Life Story / Obituary
Intelligent, patient, and generous, James Wesley Davis lived his life gladly serving others. A deeply learned man, Jim was a natural teacher for many. Jim’s drive and commitment to constant improvement coupled with his willingness to share with others in a sincere and respectful manner proved a powerful inspiration to others. Though he will be sadly missed, Jim’s legacy will live on in the hearts and lives of many.
The 1920’s were marked by tremendous confidence, prosperity, and previously unknown comforts. The economy boomed, wages rose for most Americans and prices fell, resulting in a higher standard of living for most. With the inventions of the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, self-winding watch, bulldozer, the instant camera, drive-in restaurants, Band-Aids, and the convertible the post-war, era marked significant advancement and morale flourished throughout the land. While the US census reported for the first time in history that more Americans lived in urban areas than rural ones, the wave of sweeping social and economic growth grew exponentially with the ratification of the 19th amendment which granted women the right to vote. More than a million women worked in white collar jobs while the automobile industry nearly doubled. This vibrant time grew even more brilliant on May 29, 1926, when Stanley B. and Amelia G. Davis of Tallmadge, MI welcomed their son James Wesley into their family.
Growing up in Tallmadge, Jim was raised alongside his brother Jack and their sisters Maybelle and Grace. It was during Jim’s early years that his love of the outdoors, a passion for military history, and a deep capacity for learning helped set the course for Jim’s life.
Called to actively support our country in its time of need, Jim served with the United States Signal Corp from 1943-1946. Stationed in Burma along the Burma and Ledo Roads, which traveled through jungle and mountains, Jim helped assure the main supply routes to China during the war. Following his service, Jim returned to the family home in Tallmadge. He then attended the Denver School of Trades where he studied gunsmithing. After successfully completing his schooling in Colorado, Jim and his brother Jack opened Davis Brothers Gun Shop in Grand Rapids, MI where Jim worked until recently when illness kept him away.
Jim’s love of the outdoors kept him active through the years. For over 40 years Jim, Jack, and treasured friends, Carl, Blake, and Jon Forslund traveled annually to Drummond Island, MI to bag a trophy buck and share in one another’s good company. Jim also invested a goodly amount of time and energy in supporting the efforts of the North County Trail Association. The NCTA concentrates on preserving 4600 miles of wandering trail through America’s rugged northern heartlands. The trail stretches across seven states. The longest National Scenic Trail the NCTA’s preservation is the direct result of the efforts of volunteers like Jim.
With a shared lifelong passion for collecting guns and military wares, Jim and Jack enjoyed many years of adventures in search for more quality acquisitions. Not only did Jim enjoy the quest for his own collectibles, Jim took great pleasure in helping others find what they were looking for too. Jim possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of U.S. history, especially concerning the U.S. Civil War and the Westward expansion of our nation which he relished in sharing with long time friends during his meeting at the Grand Rapids Civil War Round Table. An insatiable hunger to learn more drove the course of Jim’s days. He was fascinated with machine tools; always reading, searching, and discussing with others ways improve his own skills. Without a doubt, Jim embodied the principles of a life long learner!
Jim was equally eager to share what he knew with others who were interested in learning. Jim was widely known and regarded for his patience and generosity. He listened with respect and taught with humility. His reputation as an excellent gunsmith meant he was sought after by many. Regardless of a person’s knowledge or skills, Jim was willing to be of service. An unstinting teacher, Jim took whatever time was needed to show a person how to turn a barrel taper or silver solder a lug onto a fine rifle barrel without so much as marring the metal's finish. Truly, Jim was happiest when he was giving what he knew away to others.
An inveterate “Flea Marketer,” Jim was always finding the good stuff among the fleas. He was a common and welcome sight at gun shows and loved gas and steam engine shows. For those who had the good fortune of accompanying Jim Davis to a flea market or an auction sale, there were few experiences as wondrous.
Jim passed away on May 13, 2017, in the comforts of the quality, loving care of the staff at Covenant Village of the Great Lakes. A friend to many, Jim will long be remembered as a loyal friend, trusted teacher, and honorable servant to others. While his steadfast presence, zest for learning, and generosity will be deeply missed, his loving legacy will long inspire those who were blessed to share time with him.
Jim was preceded in death by his mom and dad, Stanley and Amelia Davis, his brother Jack F. (Marillyn) Davis and sister Maybelle Yarington. Jim is survived by his sister Grace Davis, many nieces and nephews and a world of friends. His family wishes to thank all the wonderful, caring folks at Covenant Village for their love and careful attention to Jim's needs as well as Spectrum Health Hospice who gave loving counsel and care to Jim, the family, and friends. The Memorial Service will be held 11 AM on Saturday, May 20, 2017, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. The family will receive visitors from 10 AM until the time of the service. Memorial contributions may be made in Jim's honor to North Country Trail Association, 229 East Main St. Lowell, MI 49331. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read his life story, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.