A Life Remembered -- John A. Davies Jr.

January 16, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about John Alfred "Tom" Davies Jr., who died Jan. 6 at the age of 73. His obituary appeared in the Jan. 8 edition of The Herald-Mail.

While he always professed a love of the sea, John Alfred "Tom" Davies Jr. likely will be remembered by those who knew him best for his accomplishments on land - as a family man, juvenile court supervisor and circuit court administrator.

Others may focus on the more than 50 years "Tommy" spent chasing a little white ball around a golf course.

John Davies died Jan. 6 at the age of 73 after a 21/2-year battle with cancer.

Sue Davies, his wife of 48 years, said although John was a Hagerstown native and she hails from Pennsylvania, they met while both were students at Arizona State University.


"It was one of those chance encounters - John had a class with my roommate and she suggested the three of us go to a movie one night," Sue said. "I wasn't too keen on it, but I went."

They remained just friends for some time because Sue said she still was pining for another beau she had known in New Jersey, a lawyer more interested in marriage than she was at that stage in her life.

But her feelings began to change after John came into the picture.

Before John had headed west, he graduated from Hagerstown High School in 1949, then received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. While attending Naval Preparatory School, John learned he was colorblind.

"He transferred into the regular Navy during the Korean War," Sue said. John was in the Mediterranean Sea headed for active duty when the conflict ended and he came back to the U.S.

"John loved the Navy and the sea," Sue said. Psalm 107, which refers to "they that go down to the sea in ships" was printed in John's memorial folder at his funeral.

After his military service, John graduated from Hagerstown Junior College in 1955. He headed to Arizona because of the reputation of ASU's psychology department, his chosen major.

There, he met Sue and, in time, they married.

Sue said she found that she had married a man whose family was deeply entwined in the fabric of Washington County.

John's paternal great-grandfather, Rowland Davies, was professor of music at Kee Mar College's Conservatory of Music. Kee Mar was where Washington County Hospital now stands.

"His maternal great-grandfather was William H. Rohrer, whose family owned a lot of property in the Beaver Creek area," Sue said.

As the birth of their first child approached, Sue came "home to momma" in Pennsylvania while John stayed briefly to continue his studies. After John left Arizona, the couple and their newborn son, John III, moved to Maryland. A second son, Jeffrey, was born a year later.

Frustrated with his job at a finance company, John began looking around for something that would allow him to put his psychology background to better use.

"John always wanted to work with kids, especially boys," Sue said. To that end, he began working for the Department of Juvenile Services in the 1950s, when it still was a county agency.

Sue said she remembers many times when John would bring teenage boys home to their apartment to test and counsel them.

"He would try to steer them on a different course," she said.

John later became juvenile court supervisor, a position he held until 1974, when he was named the first circuit court administrator for Washington County on the recommendation of the late Irvine Rutledge, then a Washington County circuit judge. In 1970, Sue said, John was honored with the distinguished alumni award from Hagerstown Junior College.

With a diploma from the Institute for Court Management in Denver under his belt, John was Washington County's circuit court administrator until his retirement in 1996.

After retiring, John was free to spend more time golfing, a game he not only enjoyed, but in which he excelled. Newspaper clippings of "Tommy" and his golfing buddies dotted the Davies' kitchen and attested to his prowess.

At the Jan. 10 memorial service, Sue said, their elder son praised his father and said he wants to be just like him with his own children.

"He was a great father and grandfather," she said.

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