Leon Davis Obituary

Service Information

 
In Memory of

Col. Leon Davis

November 15, 1918 - November 21, 2013
Obituary

Leon Davis, was born on the 15th of November 1918, in Arkansas City, Kansas and died on the 21st of November 2013, as he had lived, nobly and peacefully, less than a week after celebrating his 95th birth­day with Elene, his devoted and beloved wife of 61 years, their children and grandchildren. Leon was a patriot, a deco­rated soldier, a quiet philan­thropist, a believer in civic ac­tivism, a proud oilman and son of a wildcatter, and a devoted tennis player. He believed in and will be remembered for having lived a life of absolute integrity, which was the hall­mark of all of his public and private endeavors, and...
Leon Davis, was born on the 15th of November 1918, in Arkansas City, Kansas and died on the 21st of November 2013, as he had lived, nobly and peacefully, less than a week after celebrating his 95th birth­day with Elene, his devoted and beloved wife of 61 years, their children and grandchildren.

Leon was a patriot, a deco­rated soldier, a quiet philan­thropist, a believer in civic ac­tivism, a proud oilman and son of a wildcatter, and a devoted tennis player. He believed in and will be remembered for having lived a life of absolute integrity, which was the hall­mark of all of his public and private endeavors, and was the single thing, besides his undy­ing love for his family, that gave his life meaning.

After graduating from The University of Oklahoma, Leon enlisted in the Army Air Corps, sensing the inevitabil­ity of WWII. He served with the 97th bomb group where he became assistant A-4 and was based in Polebrook, England. He was the duty officer when the British conducted the first daylight raid in occupied Eu­rope, an event which the War Museum of London document­ed as one of the 300 most im­portant events of World War II conducted in Europe. He later served in multiple locations in North Africa and received the Bronze Star for his service there. He achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel and was later nomi­nated for a second Bronze Star after having helped plan the in­vasion of Southern France. He later quipped that he had been chosen to plan the invasion be­cause at the age of 24 he had so much experience planning in­vasions. After the War ended, he was promoted to the rank of full Colonel and was one of 12 Allied officers to receive com­mendations from Pope Pius XII in a private audience.

Leon and his brother El­liott started Davis Bros. in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after the War ended. They discovered the well-known Chunchula Field in Mobile County, Alabama and the Waveland Field in Hancock County, Mississippi. Two of El­liott's four sons and Leon's two sons joined Davis Bros., which also became active in venture capital and real estate devel­opment. They also formed Al­liance Business Investment Company, the first SBIC in Oklahoma.

Tulsa was the scene of the worst race riots in United States history in 1908. On prin­ciple, Leon became a pioneer in the civil rights movement, motivated by his sense of fair­ness and believing fervently in equal rights and equal oppor­tunity. He was President of the Urban League of Tulsa and lat­er became Co-Chairman with Winthrop Rockefeller of the South-Wide Advisory Council for the National Urban League. In 1966, he was appointed by then Governor Henry Bellmon as Chairman of the Civil Rights Commission of the State of Oklahoma. By that time, he had received death threats from the Ku Klux Klan who threatened to bomb his house. They were evidently deterred when seeing a "Goldwater for President" sticker on the family car and concluded they must have had the wrong address. In Tulsa, Leon became President of the Kiwanis Club, head of the an­nual drive for the United Jew­ish Appeal, President of B'nai Brith, Chairman of the Boys Club of the Salvation Army and tennis partner to his four children.

In 1968, Davis Bros. opened a second office in Houston in part to satisfy Leon's home­sick, Texas born wife. Leon was an oilman at heart and he was especially proud of the achievements of Davis Bros. af­ter his sons joined him and be­came third generation oilmen. Their efforts together led to the discovery of the northern extension of the Alabama Ferry Field in Leon County, Texas, the largest Cretaceous-aged discovery of its kind since the Giant Fairway Field, which was discovered in 1960. In 1995, Davis Bros. consummated an exploration agreement with the Osage Indian Tribe of Okla­homa which was the first major exploration agreement signed by the Indian nation since 1916. In 2001, Davis Bros. discovered the largest field in the non-pressured Yegua formation in southeast Texas in the last 30 years. Leon's sons named the field The Lucky Leon Field, which was a constant source of delight and pleasure to him. Printed on a plaque affixed to his office door were the words, "Lucky Leon".

In 1979, Leon and Roy Huffington formed The Inter­feron Foundation, of which Leon became Chairman. To­gether they raised over $20 million from their friends in the oil business, and from various public and private oil companies to fund clinical tri­als of interferon. These funds were the largest amount ever raised for clinical trials for a single drug in medical history. All administrative costs for the decade long fund raising effort were underwritten by Leon and Roy and the Foundation's Board, thus ensuring that the stated purpose of the effort was honored. A rare and costly body protein, because it had to be extracted from white blood cells, interferon was a revolu­tionary treatment for certain forms of cancer. It remains an effective treatment for hairy cell leukemia and chronic my­elogenous leukemia and is also effective in the treatment of viral hepatitis, and laryn­geal papilloma. Its use has since saved the lives of thou­sands worldwide. Dr. Jordan U. Gutterman of M. D. Anderson who led the clinical trials was quoted in an interview at the time: "Interferon was the first biologic. This is a Texas story. Only with Texas-style philan­thropy could this have been carried out." In 1990, when the Foundation was disbanded, its mission accomplished, The Houston Chronicle wrote in its editorial pages, " The Interfer­on Foundation was in the best Houston tradition of private-sector civic-mindedness and philanthropy and the oil indus­try's involvement in the com­munity workings of its capital city…One of the pleasures of a newspaper's editorial page is to be able to drop the objective, facts-only approach of its news pages and, in the name of the community, compliment those who deserve it. Our compli­ments to The Interferon Foun­dation, to Davis and Huffington and all involved. They deserve it."

Leon was a member of the Board of Trustees of M.D. An­derson and was also a senior advisory Board member, a past Board member of Congregation Beth Israel, a member of the downtown Kiwanis Club, the River Oaks Breakfast Associa­tion and The Houston Racquet Club where he played tennis with his children and grand­children for fifty years.

Leon was predeceased by his parents, Herman and Miriam Davis; brother, Elliott Davis; and daughter, Evan Car­ole Davis. He is survived by his loving wife, Elene Meyer Da­vis who will miss, more than anything, holding his hand ev­ery night. He is also survived by his daughter, Lynn Davis Lasher and her children, Reese, Hayden McGuiness and hus­band, David, and William; his son, Lance Harrison Davis and wife Barbara Fain Davis and their children, Whit, Parker, Natalie and George; and Ross Meyer Davis and wife, Gail Al­exander Davis, and their chil­dren, Allie, Kate and Emmie.

The family would like to thank the members of the staff of Davis Bros. in Houston and Tulsa. They would also like to recognize with gratitude the many nurses and doctors who cared for Leon at St. Luke's Hospital and at home.
Serving as honorary pall­bearers are Dr. Earl Beard, Da­vid B. Chalmers, Martin Fein, James E. Fischer, Gary F. Gib­son, Dr. Jordan U. Gutterman and Charles Weiner.

Friends are cordially invit­ed to a visitation with the fam­ily from six o'clock until eight o'clock in the evening, on Mon­day, the 25th of November in the library of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering in Houston.

A memorial service is to be conducted at eleven o'clock in the morning on Tuesday, the 26th of November, at the Hous­ton Congregation for Reform Judaism, 801 Bering in Hous­ton, where Rabbi Steven M. Gross, is to officiate. A recep­tion is to follow at a venue to be announced during the service.

Prior to the memorial ser­vice, the family will have gath­ered for a private interment at Beth Israel Memorial Garden, on Antoine, in Houston.

In lieu of customary re­membrances, and for those de­siring, the family requests with gratitude that memorial con­tributions in Leon's name be directed to The University of Texas M

Guest Book

The Guest Book for Col. Leon Davis is no longer available online.

If you would like to reopen this Guest Book allowing further messages from loved ones, click here.


More Obituaries

Houston Chronicle
Leon Davis, was born on the 15th of November 1918, in Arkansas City, Kansas and died on the 21st of November 2013, as he had lived, nobly and...

Read obituary at Houston Chronicle.

Personalize Your Tribute

Share photos, videos and more with Legacy Memorial Websites. Find out more.

 

Dignity Memorial Personal Planning Guide

Start Planning Today
Record your choices for your final arrangements along with essential estate and personal information.