May 20, 1942 - April 28, 2021
Gary Davis, 78, of Pacific Junction, IA, passed away on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 at CHI Health Bergan Mercy in Omaha, NE. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at the Loess Hills Funeral Home in Glenwood with Rev. Alexis Johnson officiating. Burial will be in the Glenwood Cemetery in Glenwood, IA. Visitation will be from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 7, 2021 at the Loess Hills Funeral Home in Glenwood. Loess Hills Funeral Home in Glenwood is caring for Gary and his family.
Memorials: Nebraska Humane Society
Donald "Gary" Davis, adored husband and father, self-proclaimed bon vivant, and consummate entertainer, passed on to the big stage in the sky on April 28, 2021 after a long battle with Covid. A friend to animals and people alike, Gary never knew a stranger and considered it his personal mission to entertain wherever he went.
Anyone who crossed Gary's path - waiters, mechanics, coffee buddies, musicians, doctors, cashiers, taxi drivers - soon became dear friends and were enthusiastically welcomed into his inner circle to celebrate the many joys of his life - including traveling, four-wheeling, dancing, riding one of his many Cushman scooters, or just general frivolity. To Gary, life provided ample inspiration for amusement and joking. His mischievous smile and bright eyes signaled he was conjuring a witty remark or one of his inimitable, and plentiful, signature phrases.
Gary was born in Omaha, NE on May 20, 1942, the only child of Donald Davis and Frances (Graves) Davis. The family moved to St. Louis, MO and Beaumont, TX before ultimately returning to Omaha. Gary attended Dundee Elementary School, Central High School, and UNO, where he had his own radio show and studied pre-law until moving to Pacific Junction, IA to begin working the family farm.
Gary was always an industrious person. He had a lawn care business with his best friend Eddie Boyer while still at Dundee Elementary, which yielded enough profit for them each to buy a Cushman motor scooter, kickstarting Gary's love of all things with wheels. While studying at UNO, Gary began promoting dances such as "Arriba Fever." He became enamored of the entertainment scene, and he decided to start his own band and learn an instrument (in that order). His diligence for his tenor sax lessons was possibly due to the homemade beers his teacher offered with each lesson.
Around this time, he met Kirsty Erickson, a beautiful, shy teenager with abundant musical talent (and a large number of brothers and sisters with abundant musical talent). Kirsty and most of her siblings would ultimately be involved in the many iterations of Gary's bands: The Diplomats, Wee Willy and the Night Twisters, the Mackinaw Music Show, and various other names fueled by Gary's verdant imagination. Gary, Kirsty, and their bands would go on to play in night clubs, for the Air Force on numerous air force bases (including in Greenland and Puerto Rico), at fair grounds, at conventions, and at their own show theater in Mackinaw City, MI, for almost fifty years.
Anyone who says you can't be an entertainer and also a farmer, never met Gary Davis. Gary and his mom moved to Pacific Junction, IA after the death of his grandfather, George Graves. Gary didn't let his city upbringing and complete lack of agricultural knowledge slow him down and ultimately became a skilled and respected farmer, growing corn and soybeans and raising hogs and cattle. Farming all day and playing music all night wasn't always easy, and on more than one pre-dawn morning, Gary and Kirsty (in tuxedo and sparkly gown, respectively) had to corral errant animals upon arriving home from a night club gig.
Gary and Kirsty were married on March 19, 1966 and later welcomed two wonderful daughters (Elizabeth and Marie), who would become their pride and joy. Gary's strong love for his family was one of his most defining characteristics. Time spent with his daughters and his grandchildren was precious to him, and he was always, always, always up for a visit or a trip together.
The kindness and compassion Gary showed for all people and creatures and his enthusiastic embrace of everything life has to offer will be his enduring legacy. The world is less colorful without him, but heaven must be a lot more interesting.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Donald Davis and Frances (Graves) Davis. He is survived by his beloved wife of 55 years Kirsten Leslie (Erickson) Davis, daughter Elizabeth Ann Davis and her husband Stephen Murphy of Chicago, IL, and daughter Marie Michelle (Davis) Goodwin, her husband Patrick, and their children Elliot and Olive of Kansas City, MO.