Mary Davis celebrates 101st birthday | news

As 101-year-old Oconee resident Mary Davis talked about enduring the Great Depression, inspecting military equipment during World War II and traveling around the world, there was one person who found his way into all of her stories—her husband, Bob Davis.

Like a compass needle that must point north, Davis brought Bob into the conversation at every twist and at every turn. Bob died in the 1980s, but Davis is still telling their story.

“We were only married for 40 years when he passed away, and that was the end of my living,” Davis said. “I just missed him all the time, [and] though I felt that it was the end of my life, I had to recover.”

Recovering from life has been a constant for Davis, who was born in 1921 in Connecticut. She grew up with six siblings during the Great Depression and had to take care of the three youngest children when she was only 11-years-old.

Her family struggled during the Great Depression after her father lost his job.

“It was tough, but we never complained about anything,” she said. “We were just happy when we could get some food and make it.”

During this period, Davis’ sister, Annie, contracted polio, but Davis taught her how to walk. They started by walking down their cobblestone driveway.

“She would take three steps and fall. Then, get up and take three more steps and fall again until we got to the end of the street,” Davis said. “She was so happy that I was teaching her how to walk that she never shed a tear.”

But, it was hard for Davis to see Annie’s knees and legs covered in blood from falling.

“I’m the one that shed the tears,” she said.

Davis was in the early 20s when World War II was going on. She worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day as a military equipment inspector at a defense plant in Connecticut.

“I got burned out … so my mother told me to go visit my brother,” Davis said.

Her brother was at Camp Davis in North Carolina, and it was on this trip that Davis met her future husband. Bob walked up to Davis and her brother and asked to sit with them. After a lunch, dance and a show, Bob asked Davis to go to church with him.

“Well, that did it for me,” Davis said.

Davis left for Connecticut the next day, but Bob called Davis every week for five months.

“Finally, he said, ‘let’s get married,’” Davis recalled. “I knew him as well as anybody else, so I said OK.”

A few months later, Bob went overseas and fought in the Battle of the Bulge, where he got trench foot.

“I grieved all the time that he was gone, and I was afraid,” Davis said. “You worry that things are going to be all right.”

After getting discharged, Davis and Bob settled down.

“We only had one son,” Davis said. “My mother had so many children that I did not want all of that. I’d been through it once,”

Eventually, Davis and Bob moved to Oconee County in the 1970s.

“Bob wanted to come south because he was from the south,” Davis said.

When Bob died, Davis struggled but found a way to recover yet again. She joined clubs such as the Watkinsville Garden Club, the Order of the Eastern Star and the XYZ Group at Prince Avenue Baptist Church. But, it was her trips around the globe they kept her going.

For 30 years, Davis did group tours for Excursions Unlimited, a travel agency in Savannah. By the end of it, Davis had visited 13 countries.

Davis leaned on her faith to get her through as well.

“God was good,” Davis said. “With my husband being gone, I needed somebody to comfort me and let the day go by, and you can’t beat the Lord.”

As Davis turns 101 on March 26, she’s leaving all of her next steps in God’s hands.

“I said, dear Lord, I don’t know what you’re thinking for me, but I appreciate what you have done. Whatever you desire or want to do, I’m acceptable to anything and everything,” Davis said. †[And] so far, I’m still here.”

For more on this story, see the March 24 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website.

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