Rodney Eugene Davis
Rodney Eugene Davis
  • July 22, 1937 - March 16, 2017
  • Raleigh, North Carolina

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Rodney Eugene Davis, Sr., 79, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Thursday, March 16, 2017, surrounded by family telling him how much they loved him and how proud they were of him. Born on July 22, 1937, in Greenville, S.C., to Gladys and Boyce Davis, Rodney lived an extraordinary life filled with boundless love for family, friends, and all who crossed his path.
He was passionate when talking about his love of Jesus. In Rodney's words, "When I was 12 years old, I experienced the 'Wonders of HIS love' as Jesus came to me. I knew for the first time HIS saving grace." He taught Sunday School for many years, was a lay minister in the Methodist Church, and traveled the state preaching at Lay Witness Missions.
An exceptional athlete and scholar who earned a perfect score on the math section of the SAT, he attended Furman University on a track scholarship. His Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers called him Elf - the nickname stuck. He graduated with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Mathematics. His fastest mile was 4:04, and he was invited to the Olympic Trials. Instead of going to the Olympic Trials, he was recruited to join the U.S. Army as an Intelligence Officer using his math skills to play an important role during the Cold War.
Following his military service, Rod was interviewed by IBM and offered a job on the spot. He rose in the ranks at IBM. After many years and much travel, he retired as a Senior Product Manager of the IBM PS/1 project. With amazing energy and a heart for service, Mr. D became the office manager of his son's law firm for, as he described it, "a pack of Nabs and a Coke a day." Serving as office manager and director of office morale since 2000, he loved helping his son, Gene, and worked full time until just before he passed.
Having moved to North Carolina after his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army, Rod met his future bride, Anne Fortescue; many years later, he described her as "the best thing that has ever happened to me;" going on to reflect that "Anne has been a great wife, mother and friend." Married for 53 years, he loved her tremendously and expressed his love to her daily through thoughtful acts like going out to get coffee for her each morning and happily performing every task on all of her "honey do" lists. Anne and Rod relished working on projects together - buying antiques at auction and refinishing them, maintaining their beach house, gardening, and working in the yard. He loved nothing more than surprising her with a present like a new diamond ring on their 50th Wedding Anniversary. She loved nothing more than when he called to say let's meet for dinner at the cafeteria.
GDaddy was most proud of his family. He adored his children, Gene and Kristen; he was always there to help them, cheer for them, support them, and love them no matter what. He cherished John and Mary Kaitland - in his eyes, they were his children (never viewing them as in-laws). In his view, his grandchildren, John Paul, Wynn, and Libby Ann, could do no wrong - he spoke of them with wonder, found immense joy playing with them, and treasured being a vital part of their lives on a daily basis. GDaddy loved each member of his family - he bestowed upon his family the very best of himself.
His unconditional love for family and friends manifested itself in incalculable selfless acts of kindness. If you ever needed GDaddy for anything, you only had to call, and he always cheerfully said "I'll do it" -- stopping whatever he was doing and immediately coming to your aid. If he saw anyone with a need, and he thought he could help, he always did so no matter the inconvenience or cost to him. Unquestionably, he was a Good Samaritan.
Most of his life, Dad was an avid sportsman - passionate about hunting and fishing (surf fishing, drop net fishing, fishing in the lake across from his home). He was a member and officer of several Hunt Clubs across Eastern North Carolina; he helped establish the Scranton Hunt Club and served as Treasurer and Secretary for many years.
Dad found tremendous pleasure watching sports - all sports. He took delight in attending live sporting events particularly with family and friends. He so enjoyed going to the ACC Tournament, the Big Four Tournament, and UNC basketball, football, and baseball games. While he received a full scholarship offer to run track at UNC, he opted for Furman; nevertheless, he was an ardent fan of UNC particularly once his children attended. If he couldn't watch a game in person, he would either listen on the radio while working in the garden or view on the television between chores.
Mr. D cared deeply about each person in his life - from family to friends to the mail carrier to the teller at the bank to the ushers at games to the folks at K & W Cafeteria, Bruegger's, and Moe's. He was so full of life - and lived life in his own uniquely wonderful way by spreading good cheer and love to everyone everywhere he went. When he smiled, his eyes twinkled - and he smiled all the time. He had a thunderous, infectious laugh -- you could hear him coming a mile away - and you knew that when he arrived, he was going to make you feel special and loved. Daddy had endless energy and extraordinary strength - he told his children "you can do anything, it's all in your mind." Without a doubt, his children always believed that their Daddy could do anything.
Rod is survived by his wife, Anne Fortescue Davis, and his two children: Rodney Eugene Davis, Jr. (Mary Kaitland); and Kristen Fortescue Davis Nicosia (John). In addition, Rod is