Gilbert Davis Obituary (1926 – 2022) – Fort Worth, TX

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Gilbert David Davis, Jr.
November 1, 1926 – January 17, 2022
Fort Worth, Texas – The Reverend Dr. Gilbert David Davis Jr. reluctantly left on January 17, 2022, but not before telling his last stories before slipping away, still entertaining and charming his friends and family almost until at the end, including the hospital’s nurses, doctors, and therapists, some of whom weren’t in charge of treating him, but who came by to visit their old friend.
To create a safer atmosphere for guests during the pandemic, a Celebration of Life service will be held under a large tent/blanket on the grounds of Greenwood Memorial Cemetery near the grave on Saturday, February 5 at 2:00 p.m. All are encouraged to come as we pay our respects. Under normal circumstances, the service would have taken place at the beloved Gilbert University Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the place of his ordination to the ministry in 1949 and where, for the past 50 years, he has served as elder, president of the board of directors and interim. Prime Minister. He was also the longtime teacher of the Bible Discovery Class, from which many church leaders emerged and ongoing UCC ministries sprang, including the annual Christmas Angels Project of the UCC. ‘UCC and The Children’s Closet.
Widely known as a spellbinding preacher and captivating teacher, Gilbert was first and foremost a pastor, even to those he met who had no idea who he was. He was born in Charlotte, North Carolina on November 1, 1926, and soon after won the hearts of Gilbert Sr. and Zuma at the Masonic Orphans Home. As a boy curious about his origin, he asked his doting grandmother, Alice Brinson White, “Was I adopted?” “What does it matter? We were all adopted by God,” she replied. It was enough of an answer for the rest of Gilbert’s life, both in terms of his place in his parents’ family and his relationship with everyone else, his extended family.
In Plymouth, an idyllic town by the Roanoke River, “Gibby” lived in the embrace of a small eastern North Carolina community, much like the fictional television series Mayberry, North Carolina of the 1960s. 1960 by Andy Griffith. His mother was a registered nurse whose career began in Philadelphia’s epicenter of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. She was credited by the city doctor for her intensive care that carried Gilbert through a severe case of pneumonia as a small child. His father, who served as mayor, operated two dry goods stores until they failed when the full force of the Great Depression finally came to the South in the mid-1930s. Gilbert Sr., who had previously preached occasionally in small Christian churches in the Plymouth area, took up lay ministry not far away in Bell Arthur, North Carolina, a crossroads community near Greenville. In this part of North Carolina, the Christian churches were the dominant Protestant sect. Gilbert Sr. traveled a circuit among several Christian churches, all within easy driving distance of Bell Arthur, and he became the model for Gilbert Jr.’s future ministry.
In 1943, at the age of 16, Gilbert enrolled at Atlantic Christian College, now named Barton College, in Wilson, North Carolina. To earn the money to pay for his education, he went to work as a bartender at the local Elks Club. There he was admired for his ability as a teenager to deftly cut those who had overstepped their bounds and never touch a drop himself, which remained his lifelong policy. With a healthy interest in college social life, but only a sufficient interest in academics at the start of his time at “AC”, Gilbert might have been deemed the least likely to achieve the goal, but his experience there was transformative. Decades later, his beloved Barton College honored him as Alumnus of the Year, also presented him with an Achievement Award and installed him as a member of its Board of Trustees. .
Because of the rush with which young men in college finished their classes as World War II raged, Gilbert earned his bachelor’s degree in 1946 and, still a teenager, was admitted to TCU’s Brite College of the Bible, as one then called him. After a semester-long diversion at Duke Seminary, Gilbert returned to Brite and graduated from TCU in 1949.
During Howdy week of Gilbert’s fall 1947 homecoming semester, a freshman from Crockett Texas spotted the handsome Gilbert at an event at UCC. Within a week, Hilda Lake asked her to marry him, and in June 1949, they began a 58-year marriage that lasted until Hilda’s death in 2007. After marrying Hilda, Gilbert was again adopted , this time by its Lake-Harris stretch. clan, of which he became the unofficial chaplain.
Gilbert and Hilda were joined by two little boys in 1952 and 1956 and went through happy pastorates in Camden, Arkansas; Ayden, North Carolina; Galena Park, Texas; Hereford, TX; and Shreveport, Louisiana. In 1971, Gilbert became TCU’s Director of Church Relations. He and his colleague Ed Kallenberg became legendary as development workers leading the ministry investment drive that geometrically expanded Brite’s endowment, putting Brite in a secure financial position. Ministers Week at Brite is an annual conference held each February that includes the Gilbert and Hilda Davis Workshop on Ministry as one of its major events. Gilbert attended Ministers Week for 75 consecutive years and delivered the Wells sermons there in the 1980s.
His work at TCU led Gilbert to preach in virtually every Disciple church in the Southwest, many across America, and some non-Disciple congregations including the Catholic churches of Central and South Texas and the Anglican churches of coast to coast in Canada. More often than not, he was invited to consult with congregations and religious organizations on Christian stewardship and to personally direct their stewardship events with his gifted preaching. For nine years he served as a Disciples preacher at the historic Bloys Camp Meeting near Fort Davis, Texas.
Gilbert maintained his activities, his friends and his beautiful spirit until the end of his life. He endured the pandemic restriction with elegance, even joy, particularly reveling in visits from his new great-granddaughter, Royal, who lived nearby and was born in his “bubble”. He is survived by his son Mark Brinson Davis and his wife Robin Neely Davis; granddaughter Neely Davis Douglas and husband Colin Douglas; and great-granddaughter Royal Davis Douglas; and by his son Gilbert David Davis III and his wife Anita Frost Davis; grandchildren Christopher Johnston and wife Amanda Johnston; Elizabeth Dansby and her husband Cullen Dansby; Mark Hutcheson Davis; and Michael Johnston and his wife Leah Johnston; great-grandchildren Gabrielle Johnston; Macailyn Green; Daniel Johnson; Celeste Gill-Young; and Lori Allen and her husband Taylor Allen; and great-great-grandchildren Declan Allen and Adalynn Allen. He was predeceased by his great-grandson Ethan Johnston.

Published by Star-Telegram on January 30, 2022.

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