Cover photo for Robert P. Davis's Obituary
Robert P. Davis Profile Photo
1930 Robert 2022

Robert P. Davis

March 14, 1930 — September 15, 2022

  Robert Paul Davis, formerly of 25th St., Pottsville, died Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2022. He was 92. Born March 14, 1930, in Cressona, Pa., he was the son of the late Paul E. and Claudia Davis.

  A graduate of Pottsville Area High School, Class of 1947, Bob (as he was known to all) played football, basketball and baseball, landing himself an athletic scholarship to Duke University. He was graduated from Duke in 1953 with degrees in education and business.

  As Bob told it, it was a last minute scramble to get him to Duke. A scout lucked into seeing him pitch late in the summer. Wowed by his arm, the scout told him to pack his bags and get on a train to North Carolina that weekend—he's pitching for Duke. Bob delivered for the Blue Devils, leading the team to the 1951, 1952 and 1953 Southern Conference championships and to the 1952 and 1953 College World Series. Bob's record was 25-5 and he was named MVP of the Southern Conference in 1951.  His team was featured in a 1952 Life magazine article.   Bob was elected into the Duke Hall of Fame. He loved his alma mater so much his grandchildren called him "Pop Pop Duke."

  After college, Bob played professional baseball for the storied Durham Bulls, pitching in the minor league teams for the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers until an injury took him in a different direction. It was around this time Bob met his wife, Velma, in the Pottsville Hospital—Bob, a patient, and Velma, a phlebotomist. They married in 1956 and had three children.

  Early in their marriage, the couple lived in New Jersey, where Bob worked at Clayton High School as a teacher, vice principal, and head coach of the basketball and baseball teams. While teaching, Bob continued his studies at Temple University, earning a master’s degree in education administration and completed 36 hrs towards his doctorate. He briefly switched careers to work in sales for IBM, but his love of sports and for his hometown prompted him to return to Schuylkill County, where he joined forces with his brother, Donald, to open Davis Sporting Goods. Bob would become sole owner and operator of the store until 1985, moving it from Market Street to the Fairlane Village Mall in later years. He provided to the community a personal service—fitting youngsters for their first baseball glove, for example—that would become his hallmark. Bob worked with high school teams across the county, supplying them with uniforms, team jackets and equipment, and even outfitted Muhammad Ali's training camp in Deer Lake.

  Bob was a man of the community, always striving for the betterment of Schuylkill County. He served as the first executive director of Pottsville Area School District/City Recreation and was instrumental in creating a new community swimming pool (JFK Memorial) and refurbrishing area playgrounds. He developed swim programs and summer playground programs, winter events such as ice skating, as well as other activities. Bob brainstormed and helped create the beloved Pottsville Winter Carnival, acting as its executive director in 1967. Pottsvillians will remember Bob as "MC" of the carnival pageant and ball, cheerfully bearing the brunt of the mascot Vulcan’s shenanigans. Bob also got heavily involved in youth coaching and American Legion Baseball. He even helped bring lights to the 16th Street baseball field. Bob was everywhere.

 In addition to these major accomplishments, Bob found time to volunteer for a wide range of community organizations. He was a lifelong member and president of the Pottsville Lions Club; president of the Pottsville Downtown Business Association; president of the Fairlane Village Mall Merchants' Association; head coach and co-coach (1965-1987) of the Pottsville Lions American Legion baseball team; and vice president (1965-1985) and president (1985-2010) of Schuylkill County American Legion Baseball League. He started the Schuylkill-Berks American Legion Baseball League and was founder and president of the Pottsville Girls Slo-Pitch Softball League. Bob served on the boards of the Pottsville HARB and the Area Agency on Aging.

  Bob was inducted into the Pennsylvania American Legion Sports Hall of Fame in 1979 for his dedication, time and talent working with youth athletic programs in Pennsylvania. The Robert P Davis Award was created in his honor recently for the Schuylkill-Berks American Legion Summer Tournament.

  In later years, Bob was president and owner of the Davis Travel Center, and as manager of the Yuengling Brewery Museum and Gift Shop. In retirement, he reembraced his love of education as a substitute teacher, known affectionally as "Mr. Bob." He never gave up his love of coaching and sports, always rooting for his Blue Devils.

  Bob was preceded in death by his wife, Velma Sabol Davis, his son, Robert (Bobby) Glenn Davis, his brother, Donald E. Davis, and his sister, Betty Jean Davis Lessard. Surviving him are his daughter Dr. Janine Davis Watkins and husband Atty. Kent Watkins; daughter Atty. Liane Davis Anderson and husband John Anderson; four grandchildren: Rhys Watkins (CFO Flow, Cincinnati), Celeste Watkins (MBA student at Yale), Danny Anderson (Ph.D. candidate at Brown) and Josie Anderson (Memorial Sloan Kettering, New York City); and many loved nieces and nephews.

  Throughout his adult life, Robert was a member of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. Robert will rest in the Calvary Cemetery of the parish. Funeral arrangements are under the care James E. Humphrey Funeral Home. A memorial service will be held Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Church, with interment at the Calvary Cemetery to follow.

  Please share your memories and condolences with Bob’s family by signing the guest book at www.jehumphreyfuneralhome.com

 

 


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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Mass of Christian Burial

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Starts at 10:30 am (Eastern time)

St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church

319 Mahantongo Street, Pottsville, PA 17901

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Interment

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Starts at 11:30 am (Eastern time)

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