After a very sweet Sunday vigil at his side, our family watched the peaceful passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, brother and friend, Robert Edward Davis, on April 22, 2018. He would have celebrated his 66th wedding anniversary the next day with his childhood sweetheart and lifetime companion, Beverly Backman.
Dad was born on the kitchen table, a bouncing baby boy of 10 pounds, on September 23, 1931, to Edward Bone Davis and Ardella Ethel Ottley Davis, in Sugarhouse, Utah. From the very beginning he was full of energy, curiosity, fun, and an innate ability to persevere. He was a loving brother to his three siblings who always looked up to him.
As a child of the Great Depression, he learned how to initiate, innovate and create - be it raising puppies, crafting toy airplanes, composing music, building motorized scooters, or tinkering with motorcycles and cars. Dad was a jack of all trades who learned the joy of working with his hands.
During his teens he bought an old Model A car, took it apart for repairs, placed the parts in bushel baskets and proceeded to rework the engine. His father thought he’d never be able to put it all back into one working automobile, but he did! And proudly drove it up and down 1300 East to the amazement of his friends. He loved repairing motorcycles and taking his beloved Beverly on rides throughout the hills of Sugarhouse.
Dad attended Forrest Elementary, Irving Junior High, East High School, and graduated from the University of Utah, playing trombone for the marching band. After marrying the love of his life, Dad and Mom moved to Ft. Lee, Virginia, where Dad served in the military. He joined the army band and would write arrangements without the aid of any musical instrument, getting it pitch perfect each time.
As a young child Dad took classical piano lessons and later found his passion for jazz. At age 11, he landed his first gig with the jazz band he formed, playing for a church New Year’s Eve Dance. Thus began a lifelong career of playing his music at many venues including Hotel Utah (6 years), Club Manhattan (20 years), Ft. Douglas Country Club (8 years), and the Salt Lake Country Club (6 years).
He became Salt Lake’s premier jazz pianist, playing for the likes of Nelson Eddy, John Davidson, Dennis Day, Robert Peterson, Osmonds, King Sisters, and Bob Hope. For 20 years his band played for the March of Dimes Telerama. Through his music, he created lifelong friendships that are treasured and honored to this day.
Dad worked for many years as a salesman for Utah Bank Note Company, later creating his own business, Davis Printing. In its 30-year history, it provided employment for over 500 people. His hallmark was excellence in his product, and his attention to detail and artistic bent colored his years of printing production. It became a family business as his wife, sons, and son-in-law worked tirelessly at his side. Dad’s work ethic was evident every single day. He taught his children to work with integrity, to be fair and honest, to do your best.
As an active member of the Valley View 11th Ward Dad served faithfully in many capacities. He dearly loved the members of this ward who became lifetime cherished friends.
Dad bequeathed to us a life of goodness. He taught us what is meaningful, how to go to church, be dependable, and cheer for the underdog. He was proud of his family.
Dad is survived by his devoted wife, Beverly, his sons Scott (Terri) Davis, Gary Davis, and daughters Martsie (Dennis) Webb, and Julie (David) Blanton. His memory will live on in his 14 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren, and by his surviving siblings Beverley Tingey, Jeron (Annette) Davis, and Ann (Joe) Pettit. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers-in-law Burton S. Tingey and John R. Alley, and Richard and Gloria Backman.
We are beholden to the many loving caregivers of the William E. Christoffersen Veterans Home, who helped in Dad’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. To our family they brought hope, sunshine, relief and a feeling of family. We love you for your service to our Father.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, April 30 at 11:00 am at the Valley View 11th Ward building, 1925 E. Gundersen Lane (4140 So.). A visitation will be held Sunday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the 11th Ward building, and also 9:30 to 10:30 Monday morning prior to the service. Guestbook to post messages for the family available at: HolbrookMortuary.com
Dad, with your passing, the music has died, but there will be opportunities beyond the veil for you to play your beautiful music for others to listen to and love.