For Ken Davis, public service seemed to run in the family.
The son of an FBI agent who pursued moonshiners and bank robbers, Mr. Davis spent two summers clerking for the agency and worked for the FBI in Meridian, Miss., at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. He majored in political science in college, a degree he later put to use when he was elected to serve District 4 as a DeKalb County commissioner.
Mr. Davis served as a commissioner from 1993 to 2000 and was eventually succeeded by another student of politics: current DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.
"Ken Davis was a close friend and a dedicated public servant for the people of District 4," Mr. Ellis said. "I had the pleasure of working with him on a multitude of initiatives when he was the county commissioner and later as he helped me take office. ... the citizens of DeKalb County have lost a true advocate and statesman, but he set a standard of excellence to which we should all aspire."
Davis, 68, of Loganville, died last Thursday of complications of Alzheimer's disease. A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church of Decatur. Davis-Struempf Funeral Home and Crematory of Austell is in charge of arrangements.
Davis' serving spirit came as no surprise to those who knew him best. His wife, Lynn, first got to know Mr. Davis through mutual friends when the pair attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana.
"His passion was helping people," she said. While her husband's interest in public life also stemmed from a love of politics and history, she said he "... believed in making people be okay."
Mr. Davis was also the owner of Davis Planning. John Joyner, who knew Davis for nearly 40 years, was Mr. Davis' attorney. Mr. Davis, in turn, was his insurance rep.
"The first thing that came to my mind when Lynn asked me to speak at his memorial was 'service,'" said Mr. Joyner, who attended First Baptist Church with Davis. He recalled his friend offering professional guidance when a fire gutted the church sanctuary and said Mr. Davis also promoted the building of an activity center at the church.
Fred Palmer, a golf partner and a member of Mr. Davis' Sunday school class, called him, "... a real fine guy. He was completely straight-up and direct. And he did everything he could to help people."
Mr. Palmer recalled that during the Atlanta Olympics, Mr. Davis was concerned about the appearance of county commissioners getting favors. So for a time in that summer of 1996, Mr. Davis retreated to his family's property in Hartwell.
His friend's reputation also extended to his business practices, said Mr. Palmer.
"He didn't really 'sell' insurance," he added. "He did not push anything."
In addition to golf, Mr. Davis also enjoyed scuba diving and flying his own airplane. He was a former deacon at First Baptist and a member of the board at the Clairmont Oaks retirement community.
In addition to his wife, survivors include a daughter, Kathryn Davis, of Cumming; a son, Andy Davis, of Portland, Ore., and a brother, Phil Davis, of Snellville.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.