As a sound engineer, Howard Davis was often perplexed at how little attention some churches seemed to pay to acoustics and sound quality.
Visiting churches across the country, he noted it was often hard to hear what the preacher was saying or what the choir was singing.
“It always bothered him that people couldn’t hear or understand what was going on,” said his son, David Davis, of Sandy Springs. “He felt that since so much attention was put on preparing the message and the music, that the same attention should be paid to whether or not the people could hear it clearly.”
Howard Ryerson Davis Jr., of Sandy Springs, died Saturday at Northside Hospital from complications related to pneumonia and Parkinson’s disease. He was 89.
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Feb. 23 at Mt. Vernon Towers, Sandy Springs. Sandy Spring Chapel Funeral Directors is in charge of arrangements.
Davis’ fascination with sound began in his youth, likely fueled by his love of music, especially that of the classical era. As a young man growing up in Chicago, he participated in Fenger High School’s Army ROTC program. Shortly after graduating in the ‘40s, he joined the Navy, where he trained as a radio operator and later worked on flight training systems. He also took classes at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.
After his military service, Davis took a sales job with the 3M company, which transferred him to metro Atlanta in 1965. He retired from 3M in the ‘70s and began working with several companies to consult on sound jobs, said his son, Gregory Davis, of Sandy Springs.
One project he enjoyed was the sound system at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Roswell in the ‘80s, because “of all of the different sound reinforcement systems he engineered for churches, this one was the showcase of his work,” Davis said of his father.
The elder Davis also had the chance to meet Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan and a few years later was able to provide the archdiocese with a digital copy of the 1987 dedication homily the archbishop gave, the day before the cleric had a stroke and months before he died.
In appreciation for his gift, Davis received a letter from the office of Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, his son said. The letter, which Davis cherished, explained that the recording that he’d furnished were the last known public remarks of Archbishop Donnellan.
“The end of the letter says, ‘May God bless you for this significant contribution and my our Blessed Mother keep you and your family in the safety of her maternal embrace,’” Davis said. “And that was one of the reasons he felt so strongly about his work in that church.”
In addition to his sons, Davis is survived by his wife of 67 years, Shirley Peterson Davis; son Howard R. Davis III of Sandy Springs; daughters Cindi Davis Warren of Fairfax Station, Va., and Kristina Davis Partin of Hawkinsville; brother, Robert Davis of Mokena, Ill.; sister Mickey Baumgartner of Lake Ozark, Mo.; and seven grandchildren.