Occupation: Retired from Alcoa, Inc., in 1986.
Family: Widower, wife, Haleen Davis, died in 1991; five children: Glen Davis, Gail Hill, Robin McDaniel, Becky Davis and Steve Davis; six grandchildren; four great-grandchildren and number five will arrive in December.
One of Robert Davis’ favorite quotes told a lot about who he is and how he looks at life.
“I don’t know where it came from,” Davis said, “but it is: ‘People won’t always remember what you said to them, but they will remember how you made them feel.’”
While people often want to impress others with knowledge, Davis says what is most impressive is being of service to others. “You can tell a person a bunch of stuff about yourself, but it doesn’t mean a thing until you realize I care about you.”
Here is Robert Davis.
What was your first paying job?
“Working for the local farmers in tobacco, gathering crops.”
If you could do one impulsive thing, unrestricted by cost, what would it be?
“Spend some time in Alaska in the summertime. I just want to see the country and the mountains, but not while it is cold.”
What are you guilty of?
“Procrastination. I do that a lot especially when it comes to cleaning up my place.”
What is one thing you have always wanted to do but haven’t?’
“Go to Niagara Falls. I’ve seen pictures of the falls and heard people talk about them.”
Do you think there is life on other planets?
“Not as we know it.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“After my truck (a 1985 Silverado) was stolen several years ago, I just stopped placing a lot of value on material possessions. That changed my outlook on possessions a great deal.”
Who has been the most influential person in the 20th century?
“Ronald Reagan and the Rev. Billy Graham. I think Ronald Reagan turned the country around or, if he didn’t, he kept it stable. Rev. Graham has influenced people in foreign countries as much as anyone or maybe more so.”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“Passing out while donating blood while I was in the service during World War II. You had no choice. Everyone had to donate. When blood banks would get low, they rounded up everybody and got a pint of blood. I was in the European Theater of operations in 1943, 1944 and part of 1945.”
When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
“That was 80 years ago. I don’t remember-- maybe just to be normal.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“Be a better housekeeper.”
What is your passion?
“My wood-carving. I don’t claim to be a woodcarver, but I do like to carve and I’ve done this for years, ever since I was a small boy. As soon as I was allowed to carry a knife, I’d be whittling something. Lots of people whittle to make shavings. I thought that was a waste, but I liked to make something to benefit someone. I mostly make spoons and back-scratchers.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“My brother, Sonny Davis. He died in 1995. He sold Grit papers in Blount County and was noted for that. There are a lot of things I’ve thought about since he passed that I would like to know, so if I could talk to him, he could tell me all about it.”
What do you hate?
“Hate is a strong word. I dislike people who try to make themselves appear a better than the common folk.”
What is your all-time favorite movie?
“ ‘Gone with the Wind’ or ‘Sea Biscuit.’ ”
What is the best book you’ve ever read?
“ ‘The Greatest Generation,’ by Tom Brokow. I recommend reading it. It covers my entire life. All the things he writes about, I’ve been there. The book really that had an effect on me. The older I get, the more I realize I don’t know.”
Would you travel in space?
“Under certain circumstances, yes. I would want a crowd to go with me. I wouldn’t want to be up there by myself.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“Early 20th century. Times were hard, but if a person would work, he could have something. I was born in 1923, and I remember people saying, ‘There is money to be made if a body would work.’”
What character in a book or movie would you most like to be?
“Sgt. Alvin York. Everything he did, he did for the glory of his country, not himself. When he came back, he was a hero, and they offered him everything in the world - good jobs and such, but he came back to Tennessee.”
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“Everything has been good to me. Life has been good to me.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“Being a Christian mother, she just wanted us to do good. She wanted us to be good and do good.”
Did you ever get paddled in school and if so, why?
“Yes, for sassing. I think it happened twice. I learned quick.”
What was your first car?
“A 1937 Chevrolet Master Deluxe. That thing had knee-action and that was a headache. The front wheels would lean in. They didn’t have power steering.”
What’s your favorite all time song?
“ ‘Amazing Grace.’ I would say its pretty well known world around and anywhere the Christian faith is practiced.”
Is the glass half full or half empty?
“Half full, and filling up all the time.”