Jimmie Lewis Davis, 60: Retired custodian known to all as "Uncle Butch"

Jimmie Lewis Davis provided the bulk of the labor necessary for his niece to obtain a Habitat for Humanity home. He knew that, as a single working mom, Briana Turner would be hard-pressed to meet the necessary sweat equity.

So Uncle Butch stepped up.

"I wouldn't have been able to do this without him," Ms. Turner said. "He came to the [work days] with me and put in a lot of time. He had two sisters and never married, so we were his children."

Mr. Davis had endured stomach problems for sometime and, in early March, went to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center to find out what ailed him. Initially doctors diagnosed an ulcer, but it turned out to be gastric cancer. He died Saturday from complications of the disease at his niece's home in Atlanta. He was 60.

Mr. Davis' body was cremated. At his request, family and friends will gather in his memory 3 p.m. Friday at his niece's house, 88 Holly Road, Atlanta. Stocks Funeral Home handled arrangements.

Uncle Butch was born in Atlanta and attended Howard High, but never graduated. He quit school to join the Army, where he spent two years. When he was discharged, he returned home, worked odd jobs and became a custodian at DeKalb's Chamblee High.

"He took pride in what he did as a custodian because he kept the grounds safe for the students," his niece said. "He liked his job. To him, Chamblee High was part of his family and he was a big family person."

The job suited Mr. Davis because he enjoyed being around young people. And in the Kirkwood community, he'd always been the go-to guy for repairs. Everybody called him Uncle Butch.

When the boys played a pick-up football or basketball game, the custodian would occasionally join in, despite his age. Sean Turner of Stone Mountain said his uncle would give teens rides to practices and attend games.

"He was the neighborhood uncle and the only father I ever knew," Mr. Turner said. "I was an athlete growing up and he supported me, and he taught me to be a man. I'm hurting now."

Mr. Davis never had any children of his own and, despite serious relationships through the years, never wed. His sister, Barbara Turner of Atlanta, called him a "Momma's Boy," and her best friend.

"If he had married, his bride would have had to live with us," she said. "He was really close to me and has always been kind. Extremely kind."

Mr. Davis had looked forward to landscaping his niece's yard this summer.

"He'd already made plans for what he was going to do," she said. "He always had our  backs."

Additional survivors include a sister, Willie Ruth Parker of Maui, Hawaii.