From his childhood in the projects of Oakland and Richmond, Dr. George W. Davis learned the value of community. He grew up in an era when neighbors looked out for each other and elders were given their rightful respect. He has always maintained this strong sense of community in everything he does.
A high school counselor once told him that his highest expectation would be to become a janitor. Like the true Mac-ite he was, he used this “advice” as his inspiration to earn his PhD and become a leading African American gerontologist who was widely respected for his leadership and advocacy throughout the Bay Area.
He was a community leader in the true sense of the spirit of community. He had been in the trenches of community work for over 30 years. Day in and day out he remained dedicated to making life better for the underserved, African American elders in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point district.
The neighborhood knew him as “Doc”, and “Doc” was known everywhere from the neighborhood to City Hall. He had been the Executive Director of Bayview Hunters Point Multipurpose Senior Services for the past thirty-two years, during which time he concentrated his fight for the entire community, creating programs for the seniors.
Innovation and creativity were his hallmarks. For the past thirty years, Bayview Hunters Point has celebrated Black Cuisine, an event that attracts hundreds of people from all over the Bay Area to celebrate the cultural heritage of soul food. This celebration brings people of all races and incomes together and is the only event of its kind that celebrates the neighborhood’s cultural strengths.
Dr. Davis always integrated his intellectual skill with practical solutions that benefit people. His master’s thesis was written on senior inmates in prison and in 1999 he initiated the first senior ex-offender program in the United States. This program has made a difference in the lives of the seniors themselves; as well as pointed out the need to reach out to ex-offenders as they re-enter the community as seniors.
As a leader, Dr. Davis remained an advocate, true to the cause. He had been working on a comprehensive, innovative plan for seniors in the neighborhood known as the “Aging Campus”, for the past ten years. The first of its kind in the United States, the Aging Campus will provide housing and services throughout the neighborhood. This dream is about to become reality, as Dr. Davis united the community to create something positive, with a lasting impact.
Dr. Davis received numerous awards and recognition for his 32 years of service, including awards from Senator Feinstein, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Mark Leno, Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, the National Council of Negro Women, just to name a few. He is the founder of the National Black Aging Network. He had been active in the field of gerontology, including serving as an associate faculty member at Stanford’s Geriatric Education center.
Humbled by any recognition and accolades, he kept his focus on the causes of his people. His gentle, yet vital advocacy for seniors included creating programs and services for their benefit, improving their health, enabling them to live independently, and remaining active in their communities. He did this by bringing together individuals, organizations, businesses and the government agencies who serve them. The best expression of his leadership was the fact that when people wanted to see something get done in Bayview Hunters Point, they came to see him.
Ordained as a minister in 2000, Rev. Dr. Davis found joy serving as Associate Pastor of the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in San Francisco. Dr. Davis endured many health challenges, including diabetes, being legally blind and three cancers. He always lived by the scripture “you walk by faith, not by sight”. He took on his health challenges as a test of his faith and showed others how to be courageous and strong.
Recognizing, connecting and celebrating family was of the upmost importance to Dr. Davis. He loved his family and was a great role model and mentor to all of them. He leaves a legacy in his wife Catherine Davis; brother Wesley Davis and Gloria; children Lola Gerine Allen, William George Davis, II and Micki; Tonya Davis, Kristy Davis, Matthew Davis, Teri Jordan; brothers-in-law Carl and Robert Koechlin; Grandchildren: Cassadine Davis, Jalani Davis, Jalen Davis, Jaliyah Davis, Marcus Davis; Jordan Green and Jonique Green; Nieces and Nephews Katrina Mix, Diana Evans and husband Virgil Evans, Cornelius Boney and wife Noretta, Renee Broom, Keith Dowdell, Rochelle Salary and husband Warren; Arlanda Graves; and a host of grandnieces and grandnephews; as well as Bayview Senior Services staff; the Metropolitan Church family and the Bayview Hunter’s Point community.