By Gary Ruegsegger
Downtowner Senior Editor
After a long and very productive life, Frank
Augustus Davis Jr. passed away on December
2, 2016. He was Norfolks best friend
by his given name or any other.
The only trouble is nobody knew who Frank
Augustus Davis Jr. was. Buddy Davis now was
a very different story. He was everybodys
buddy. If you ever needed a friend, Buddy
Davis was the man.
His son Geoffrey delivered his fathers
eulogy and began by saying, For those
here who never met Buddy, he was an amazing
man and for those who did know him, you already
Truer words were never spoken. To say Buddy
was an amazing man is truly an understatement.
He kept us all amazed with his knowledge,
wisdom and especially his kindness.
Buddy loved music and he loved jazz like the
publisher of the Downtowner loves rock and
As a kid, the Saturday morning wakeup call
at home for Geoffrey was not an alarm clock,
it was a rousing, cranked up dose of "Take
The A Train" or "One O'clock Jump
Theres never been a shortage of Buddy
Davis stories. His late pal Johnny Brown had
more Buddy Davis stories than the law allows
and the law allows plenty. Like Johnny, Geoffrey
has more than his share of stories about his
Like the time he decided to turn the
tables on my siblings and I when we were toddlers.
There's a photo of him seated in a folding
chair he placed inside the playpen, reading
the Sunday newspaper in his pork pie hat.
We little ones on the outside now suddenly
wanted to be inside because, now, it was apparently
THE place to be, related Georey in
Wherever Buddy was, it was the place to be.
Or the time he was trying to cash a
check back in the days when our social security
numbers were printed on our checks; he'd forgotten
his ID and some quick thinking prompted him
to pop the (his) partial dental plate . .
. and showed it to the clerk because his social
security number was laminated into the roof
of the partial. It worked, continued
Geoff in the eulogy.
My favorite Buddy Davis story was when he
was stationed on a remote island during World
War II. Back then, Buddy had a stubborn streak
and didnt particularly pay much attention
The commanding ocer had about enough
of Buddy Davis and called him into the oce,
Buddy told me on more than one occasion.
He took me over to the window and pointed
outside the fence. 'Davis, a man could get
lost out there (a jungle).' That straightened
me right out, continued Buddy.
Nobody could tell a joke better than Buddy
Davis. Johnny Brown was always amazed that
Buddy could tell any joke in mixed company
and the ladies would never complain. Johnny
could get away with a lot, but he couldnt
get away with that.
I wish I could tell a joke like Buddy,
butmore than thatId like
to be able to get away with telling some of
his jokes, Johnny told me in 2010.
My wife and I once had lunch with Buddy, his
beautiful wife Jackie and Skip Wilkins
widow at Max and Ermas at MacArthur
Mall. Before and after our lunch, Buddy and
Jackie never stopped holding hands.
For those of you who dont remember Skip,
he authored the book The Real Race.
His dreams of playing professional football
ended with a water skiing accident in 1967
shortly after his high school graduation.
Skip eventually took up wheelchair athletics
and earned lots of gold medals and a spot
in the National Wheelchair Hall of Fame.
Skip was a good friend of Buddy who often
helped Skip to wheelchair events. Preferring
to talk about Skips wife Daphne and
others, Buddy never took any credit for Skips
great success. That was just a way of Buddys.
In another footnote, Buddy never took any
credit for helping to start the ODU Foundation,
but curiously theres a building at ODU
which bears the name Davis Hall in his honor.
For years, Buddy was in the trucking business.
Many say he was the best there was, but you
would never hear that for him. He managed
a good part of the renovation at Maury in
the eighties using all teenage employees,
but Buddy always preferred to help others
Buddy married Jackie Austin in what he termed
the smartest move I ever made.
They were married 67 years. In 1947, Jackie
was elected the prettiest girl in her
high school class (Maury High School).
They were longtime members of Freemason Baptist
Buddys good friend Johnny Brown always
commented that he couldnt understand
how Buddy got such a pretty wife. That was
about the only point that Johnny and Buddy
Her obituary read: Jackie was a loving
wife and devoted mother to not only her five
children, but any nieces, nephews, or friends
that came through her door. She was quick
with a smile, clever, and beloved of everyone
who met her.
But Buddy was her biggest fan and she was
his greatest admirer. They would sit for
hours on the balcony of their downtown home
looking up and admiring Norfolks ever-changing
Today Buddy and his beloved Jackie are holding
hands again, but now theyre looking
down on the Norfolk skyline from heaven.