Last week, someone called Russell Davis to extend gratitude.
The caller had been sober five years. For that, a thank-you seemed appropriate.
Relatives say the call is just one example of the impact Mr. Davis has had on people's lives. Its depth, they say, is unknown.
Mr. Davis gave up alcohol about 10 years ago. It took a family intervention.
"Get help," they advised. He did.
"He could have said ‘no', but he didn't," said older brother Drew Davis of Springfield, Ill. "His treatment was a success, turned his life around and created a calling for him."
Indeed, treatment at the Ridgeview Institute, a psychiatry and addiction hospital in Smyrna, marked his genesis. It launched a mission, too.
At Ridgeview, he oversaw addiction recovery meetings and programs. He gave speeches and presentations on the subject across the metropolis as well as the Southeast. Passion may sound cliche; in this case, it's apropos. Mr. Davis had a desire to extend the reality of recovery to others.
"His legacy is certainly his family, his young son and his wife, Elizabeth," his brother said. "But there's no question that there's an immeasurable number of people he touched and successfully help turn their lives around. To leave that impact is quite a legacy, and it's one that will continue forward."
On Friday, Russell Lloyd Davis of Smyrna died from heart failure at Cobb General Hospital. He was 53. The funeral will be 4 p.m. today at Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta. H.M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill chapel, is handling arrangements.
Mr. Davis graduated from Sacred Heart Griffin High in Springfield, Ill., and attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. In the late 1970s, he moved to Atlanta with his parents, Helen Frances and the now-deceased John Norris Davis.
For a period, Mr. Davis ran his own business, Southeast Landscaping, Inc. For the last several years, he was employed with the Smyrna Parks and Recreation Department where he helped establish parks and greenspace.
Mr. Davis had a health check-up about a month ago. An EKG detected something irregular. Three weeks ago, he underwent by-pass surgery. He was recovering but apparently had an acute heart attack.
In his final hours, Mr. Davis' standing in and outside of Ridgeview was evident by the number of visitors who filed through the hospital.
"He was a quite a leader at Ridgeview," said brother-in-law Clay Jackson of Atlanta. "He has improved so many lives. "That became his mission in life."
Additional survivors include, his wife, Elizabeth Scott Davis and a son, John Keeley Davis, both of Smyrna; two other brothers, Stephen Davis of Rockville, Md.; and Mark Davis of Bronxville, N.Y.; two sisters, Pamela Davis-Schpero of Rowayton, Conn.; and Jane Jackson of Atlanta.
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