Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tribute Part Two

This is the eulogy for my father. I will be delivering it and my children helped me compose it.

I am here today because my Father has passed, and I would like to say a few words about him and his life. You might think of my words as a tribute to him.

When I thought about what I might say here today, I wondered how I could describe my Dad in one word. Could I find one word that sums up who he was and what he did?

The first word I thought of was integrity. If you look at his record of service to the public you know this — people who knew him, trusted him. He had many titles: Secretary, Director, and Treasurer.

The next word I thought of was confidence. He had a presence — he knew himself and he knew the right thing to do. He also had strength of character and physical strength. My sister called him her Rock.

His strength was balanced by his consideration. I have heard the minister call Dad a gentle man. And it was true – he was gentle.

Dad helped people. He would help you discover what it was you wanted to do or become — and help you find the way to achieve it. When Newfield was ready for a pool, he helped build the pool. When his wife wanted to attend college, he helped her.

Dad was loving. He loved his wife, Mrs. D, for more than sixty-two years.

Dad was optimistic. He believed in the goodness of people — and the goodness of the human spirit. He assumed the best in people — and they almost never proved him wrong.

Dad was a constant friend. His buddies regularly met for poker — for close to 50 years. The same group of friends celebrated New Years Eve with him and Mom — for nearly 40 years.

Dad was respectful. You could go to him for advice. He wouldn't gossip.

Dad was a devoted son, brother, and nephew. He took care of his mother, his sister Rae, and his Aunt Margaret.

Dad loved music. When I was a child, we had one of the first FM radios and the house was always filled with music. And if he was outside, you could almost always hear him whistling while he worked. Lately he so enjoyed driving with the XM radio tuned to the '40s station, playing tunes he hadn't heard since he was a teenager.

Dad appreciated beauty. He marveled at the lovely scenery on trips to Alaska and Hawaii — and found joy in walking with a daughter on each arm.

Dad loved making kids laugh. I think he remembered what fun it was to be a kid and to be so "precious and happy."

Dad delighted in gentle teasing and pranks, like pretending the car wouldn't make it over the hill unless his grandkids pushed on the dashboard to help — or slipping a fake cocktail to a cousin and laughing when she got all giddy.

Dad also liked to tell stories, especially funny stories. More than once I heard my mom say "Oh Richard!" in response to some tall tale.

Dad was a farmer. He prepared for the worst, hoped for the best — and watched the weather. He had a great love for the outdoors — you could see it when he went fishing from the Pier in Avalon and picking tomatoes in his garden. And he enjoyed cooking food that he had grown or caught — and feeding people.

Dad worked hard and earnestly, almost his entire life, and he enjoyed the work he did. Even after he retired, he was rarely idle — he was cooking, farming, fishing, volunteering, and spending time with his family.

Dad was happy, taking satisfaction in the hard work he did all his life — and the love and devotion returned by his immediate and extended family.

When I heard one of his great-grandkids had asked if Pop-pop was now going to be his guardian angel, I knew I had found the word — Guardian.

Dad was a guardian.

I thank him for being the great Dad he was — and I thank you all for being here today.

A Tribute to My Father

My father, Richard F. Davis, 82, passed away peacefully on February 13, 2009.

The following appeared as his obituary.

Born in Newfield and a lifelong resident, Richard Davis served the community for many decades, beginning in the 1950s. Last year Richard and his wife, Betty Jane, were honored by the Newfield Borough Council with a Proclamation recognizing their service to the community.

Richard was on the Borough Council, served 13 years as Board of Education Secretary, and was a Founding Father of the Newfield Swim Club. He was a member of the Newfield Fire Company: he served many years as a Director and was currently its Secretary. He has served on the Board of Trustees for the Newfield United Methodist Church since 1952. He was currently Treasurer of Rose Hill Cemetery and a Director of the Avalon Fishing Club; both responsibilities he took on from his father. He was a Director of the Newfield Saving and Loan.

Richard owned Dyer & Davis Squab Farm on Church Street in Newfield from the 1950s into the 1970s. He was a proud graduate of Edgarton Memorial School and an alum of Vineland High School.

Richard is survived by his wife of 62 years, Betty Jane; two daughters, Arlene Schulgen and Margaret Davis; two brothers, Edwin Davis and Herman Davis; and six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He touched many lives and will be missed by all.

The following is more personal and appears on the back of the funeral service bulletin.

A life filled with love...

Richard F. (Dick) Davis,
passed on to be with his heavenly father. Dick was born October 11, 1926 in the family home on Church Street and grew up there as a typical boy with his sister Rae and 2 brothers, Edwin and Herman. His paternal grandparents lived next door on the corner of Church and Helena and Dick got his love of seeing movies and traveling from trips with them. His father, Harry, co-owned the world's largest pigeon farm, Dyer and Davis, with farms in Newfield and Elsmere, Delaware. Dick was a bright boy, so that while attending Edgarton Memorial School, he skipped several grades, allowing him to graduate from Vineland High School in 1943 at age 16. That same year at a party on Rosemont Avenue, he met Betty Jane, who lived on the Malaga Camp Ground. Three years later they were married and had two daughters, Margaret and Arlene. Early in the fifties, they moved into the house that had been his paternal grandparents, purchasing it from his sister Rae who was moving to California with her husband and daughter June. Dick continued to work at Dyer and Davis and in the 1950's took on the responsibilities of Newfield Methodist Church trustee and Newfield Town Councilman. He also was a volunteer fireman from the 1950's. When polio was rampant closing the local lakes to summer activities, he worked with his friends to establish the Newfield Swim Club and served as a director for many years, since he lived practically next door. When his father and Mr Dyer wanted to retire, Dick took over the squab farm, reducing its size so he could almost handle it himself. When Mr. Dyer died, Dick and Betty Jane bought Mr. Dyer's sizeable home and operated White Dove Farm with Bruce and Betty Candler as a catering and restaurant there, where Kiwanis met every Thursday. The squab farm business declined severely in the 1960's and Dick worked part time and then full time for Berlin Plumbing. When his father died, Dick took inherited responsibilities for Newfield Savings and Loan, the Avalon Fishing Club, and Rose Hill Cemetary. His daughters grew up and had children and his life was full of love for grandchildren. Along the way, he helped get the Newfield Fire Company's chicken BBQ established, working many years as pit leader, as it was just an extension of his responsibility as the Fire Company Secretary. Eventually his grandchildren grew up and blessed him with great-grandchildren, which were the delight of his days, two of the great grandsons having birthdays he celebrated with them in the week before the stroke that took him from us. Typical of the man he was, he had many more people consider him their "additional" Dad, Grandfather, and Great-Grandfather because his heart was so filled with love and caring.