WASHINGTON – David and Inez Davis of Abilene,Texas,are a team in life and in community service.
”For 58 years we have been a team,” said David Davis,86. ”Whatever one does,the other does.
It’s that teamwork that earned the Davises recognition at the 33rd National Jefferson Awards ceremony Tuesday honoring community leaders on the national and local level.
The Davises joined 73 other local and ”unsung heroes” nominated for the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Public Service. This award was presented to five individuals who ”are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward.”
The Jefferson Awards,given by the American Institute for Public Service,are divided into five categories honoring people in various areas of service. The Onassis award is one of the categories honoring people at the local level.
The local Jefferson Awards for Community Service are sponsored by news organizations around the country,including the Abilene Reporter-News and KTXS-TV in conjunction with the Nonprofit Management Center at Abilene Christian University.
Although the Davises did not win the national Onassis award,their story will not go unnoticed.
For more than 40 years,David Davis,who was on the front line as a medic on D-Day,and his wife,Inez,86,have volunteered at Abilene’s West Texas Rehabilitation Center. Throughout the years,they visited the center’s patients and manned phones at the annual telethon,calling donors all over the United States.
Originally called the Taylor County Society for Crippled Children,its name was changed in 1956 to better define its services. The center now has branches in San Angelo and Ozona,Texas.
“You see people in need,and if you can help them,you try. The rehab center helps about 21,000 people a year and it is funded strictly by contributions,and those are just the things we try to collect,” David Davis said.
The Davises,who once ran their own general insurance company called Davis Insurance, have no children of their own,but David said,“Everybody else's children belong to us.”
However,even with national recognition,Inez Davis remained humble.
”It’s influencing other people’s lives by the attention this award is getting. We are both honored,” she said.
The awards dinner,hosted by actress Ellen Burstyn,also recognized Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning for creating the PeyBack Foundation,which donates money to help children through educational and athletic programs.
Other national award winners were Rep. John Lewis,D-Ga.,for public service by an elected or appointed official; I. King Jordan,president of Gallaudet University,for his public service benefiting the disadvantaged; and Michael Feinberg and David Levin for service by private citizens.
The Davises,visiting Washington for the first time,met with Rep. Randy Neugebauer,R-Texas. Tuesday evening,the couple had their picture taken with Sen. John Cornyn,R-Texas.
”They’ve dedicated their lives to providing for others,” Cornyn said.