Even though Jonathan Joseph Davis held a leadership position throughout his career, he was still considered by his peers as “one of the guys.”
The former Inwood resident died on July 22 from what was described as an “extended illness.” He was 77.
Born on Jan. 18, 1943 at Shelby Hospital in Shelby, N.C. to Robert & Mollie (nee Lawrence) Davis, he spent his early years until the age of seven in Cleveland County, N.C. after which the family moved to Inwood.
Davis attended Lawrence High School and graduated in the class of 1961. He was also a member of the school’s track team. After high school, he earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. Davis was also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
After college, Davis married Jacqueline Bridget Peek of Brooklyn in 1976. Davis then went on to do social work, working as the executive director for the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence. He stayed in the position for over three decades up until his retirement in 2009.
Claude Gulley is Davis’s son. He said that his father was beloved during his time at the community center. “While working at the center he was loved by many for his stern yet humble personality,” Gulley said. “Over the years he served the community through his tireless efforts by implementing policies to achieve community growth, targeted social service and leadership development.
Inwood resident Anne Rosier described Davis as a good friend she knew for over 40 years. “We always talked a few times a week as he was such a good person,” she said. “Even though he was the director of the community center, he was just like one of the guys when he would talk with you.”
Davis also worked side by side with county officials and other community leaders such as Town of Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman, Al Sharpton and Congressman Gregory Meeks on racial and socioeconomic inequality and injustice issues. He received countless accolades including the Joseph M. Sokol Memorial Award in December 2003 for his outstanding contribution to the quality of human services in the community.
Davis is survived by his only living aunt Rosia Nell Lawrence of Far Rockaway; son Claude Gulley and his wife Felicia of Warrensville Heights, Ohio; daughter Rashida Davis of Queens; two grandsons, Shane Freeman and Vance Gulley of Ohio; and cousin Ebony Heath of Hartford, Conn. Aside from his parents, Davis was predeceased by his wife of 35 years, Dr. Jacqueline Peek-Davis in 2011.
A service was held for Davis at J. Foster Phillips Funeral Home in St. Albans on July 30. He is buried at Greenfield Cemetery in West Hempstead.