William E. Davis
Published in the Pensacola News Journal from 4/24/2008
WILLIAM E. "BILL"
William Elvin "Bill"
Davis, Sr., legendary sheriff of Escambia County, Florida, exchanged his
earthly body for his heavenly one on April 22, 2008 after a long and very
courageous fight against Alzheimer's Disease.
He graduated from Catholic High School in 1945, graduated from Mississippi
Gulf Coast Community College (Perkingston Campus) in 1948, and the Florida
Police Academy in 1951.
He excelled in baseball and football while attending Catholic High School
and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
In 2001, he was voted into the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Athletic Hall of Fame. He played semi-professional baseball for the Fitzgerald,
GA Pioneers, and the Cincinnati Reds in Columbia, SC. He also played for
the Pensacola Fighting Alumni (baseball) and the Pensacola Flyers (football).
He was a member of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players.
He was a third generation law enforcement officer with Escambia County,
FL, starting as a Deputy Sheriff in 1951. He was shot in the line of duty
in 1954 during an incident involving a barricaded suspect. In 1960, he
was elected Sheriff of Escambia County. When elected at the age of 33,
he was the youngest Sheriff ever elected in the state of Florida. He was
re-elected for an additional two terms.
During his tenure as Sheriff, he recognized the importance of maintaining
an open line of communication with the public he served.
Some of the many accomplishments as Sheriff, he established the first
of several programs such as the K-9 Unit, Marine Unit, Mobile Crime Scene
Unit, Juvenile Division and the first School Safety Program. He opened
Sub-Stations in Century and Pensacola Beach. He also established a Mounted
Parade Posse entertaining many
during local parades.
For many years, he assisted Father John Lacarri during the days of "Bellview
Junction" performing Western Shootouts during "St. Ann's Roundup".
He was active in many civic and charitable organizations including the
Ensley Masonic Lodge, Rotary Club and Shiner's Temple. He coached little
league softball and baseball, was very active with orphaned and disadvantaged
children where he maintained a mini-ranch to which he invited these and
other children to interact with the animals having picnics and hayrides,
and he founded the West Pensacola Volunteer Fire Department.
Following his tenure as Sheriff, he opened the Branding Iron Steak and
Lobster Ranch Restaurant, which he operated until 1975, and in 1984 he
owned and operated Davis Investigations, a private Investigative Firm.
In 1987 he owned Pine Forest Adult Elderly Care Facility.
He is preceded in death by his son, Kevin Davis, his father and mother
Roland E and Winnie A Davis, his brothers Roland Davis Jr., and Otis Davis,
and his sisters Betty Raby and Martha Pinnese.
He is survived by his loving wife Linda, his son William E Davis Jr, (Sandy),
his daughters Sally Spencer (Randy), Ramona Szuch (Kenny), Karen Gray
(Kevin), Paula Porto (Kerry) and "a very special daughter" Vera
Allen and their mother Effie Davis. Grandfather "PawPaw" to
Summer and Todd King, Devin and Jill Spencer, William E Davis III (Trey),
Alana Davis, Sarajane Szuch, Harrison Szuch, Georgia Szuch, Logan Szuch,
Caroline Szuch, and Preston Szuch, Bruce Padilla, II, Katelynn Porto,
Mitchell Porto, and Annamarie Porto. He was Great-Grandfather to Courtney,
Kaylee, and Kenna King, Isabella, Tyler and Elizabeth Spencer. He is also
survived by his sisters, Barbara NeSmith (Buddy) and Janie Seibert (Malcolm).
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 Friday, April 25, 2008 at Faith
Chapel Funeral Home North-Cantonment, FL, with the Reverend William C.
Heiden officiating. Interment will follow at Beulah Cemetery.
Serving, as pallbearers will be Members of the Escambia County Sheriff's
Office Honor Guard. Honorary pallbearers will be Gene Cook, Lonnie Stone,
Ray Wheat and Stan Friedman.
The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Thursday, April
24, 2008 from 5:00pm until 8:00pm.
The family wishes to express special appreciation to the staff of the
Specialty Center of Pensacola for the kind and loving care given to Bill
during his stay, and to Covenant Hospice for their compassion and diligence
during his last days.
Faith Chapel Funeral Home North 1000 Highway 29 South Cantonment is in
charge of arrangements.