Davis Honored for 30-plus Years of Service on QC
Most of Monday night's Gosnell School Board meeting was dedicated to honoring the late Robert Earl Davis who served on the school board and as a Mississippi County Quorum Court justice of the peace for more than three decades.
Davis was recognized by not only school leaders, but by county and state officials as well.
State Rep. Johnny Rye (R-Trumann) presented Davis' family with a legislative citation as well as a capitol citation during the meeting.
Mississippi County Judge John Alan Nelson honored Davis with a proclamation from the quorum court recognizing his work as a justice of the peace from January 1981 to December 2004 and January 2011 through December 2014.
Gosnell School Board president Donnie Wright also presented a framed photo of Robert Earl from his time on the school board, and his wife, Gail, accepted as the oldest son, Robert Bubba" Davis, and his wife, Linda, looked on with gratitude.
Robert Earl passed away on Sept. 16, 2019, at the age of 83.
He lived most of his life in Gosnell and served his country in the U.S. National Guard. He was a retired farmer and of the Department of Agriculture Research Center. Along with serving on the Gosnell School Board for more than 30 years and the quorum court for 17 terms (34 years), Robert Earl was a past president of the Mississippi County Electric Co-op Board and secretary for the AECC Board. He was well known for his humorous stories and quick wit.
"We couldn't do enough to honor him for what all he's done for our school," Wright said.
Wright recalled Robert Earl fighting for school funding in Washington.
"He would try to get every penny he could for our school," Wright said, adding Davis would usually leave D.C. with needed support from lawmakers.
"On a personal note, he has influenced me, and he has influenced this board for years to come," Wright said. "I can remember back in '93, he and Neil Burge came and knocked on my door and said, 'we want you to consider running for school board.' I did and got on the board. He and Neil took me under their wing and taught me a lot of things, opened my eyes on a lot of stuff on politics. You wouldn't think politics gets involved here but it does. He basically taught me just do what you think is right. You don't have to agree with everybody every time. but just do what's right where you can lay your head on that pillow at night and go to sleep knowing that you did what you thought was best."
Wright noted Robert Earl wouldn't miss meetings or even ball games, adding he would pay someone to take him to meetings when he couldn't drive.
"He was very dedicated," Wright said.
Gosnell School Board vice president Gary Payne said he appreciates all that Robert Earl did for Gosnell.
"He had to make some tough decisions some times," Gosnell superintendent Bonard Mace said.
Mace noted Robert Earl hired him, and he remembers him caring about people.
"On your worst day, he made you feel like a person," Mace said.
Rye offered kinds words about Robert Earl before reading the two citations.
"There are different kinds of folks in this world; there are people with their hands open, and there are other folks reaching out to help folks," Rye said. "And that's the kind of dude he was. He cared about people, and he cared about this area."
Rye said Robert Earl would often brag on the school and Mace's leadership.
"The school is doing good, Mr. Mace," Rye said. "This is known statewide how good of a school you operate here."
Rye pointed out that Robert Earl donated much of his time to public service.
He said the legislature wanted to thank him with a citation, which was scheduled to be presented to Davis the day after he died.
"We thought we were going to get it in in time but we didn't," Rye said. "We went to see him, Mrs. Davis, and you were right there standing right with him. You didn't leave him."
The capitol citation was penned by the secretary of state and also honors Robert Earl for his work.
"Mrs. Davis, we don't do this very often," Rye said of the capitol citation. "This is one that actually represents the governor and represents the attorney general, secretary of state, lieutenant governor and the entire senate and the entire legislature. This is one that we don't do very often. This is for special, special folks. "
Judge Nelson shared a few words before presenting the proclamation from the quorum court.
"I have no idea how he had time to do everything that he did because he was 100 percent in everything," Judge Nelson said. "He was my mentor on the quorum court, and it was really confusing to me for a while. It was complicated and there was a lot of terminology that I wasn't used to, and Robert Earl would come over and he would take about five minutes or less and tell me what it meant and I'd say ok because he would put it to you in language that you could understand. We appreciate him being up there very much. He loved the county and if you were to see him up there in his work, you would think that's the only thing that he did because he was 100 percent invested. He didn't say a whole lot at times but when he spoke, you knew to listen, because either he was really for it or he was really against it, and he wasn't going to let go."
Gail said Robert Earl loved people and attended nearly every event in Blytheville and Gosnell.
She added the family was showered with support after his death, thanking everyone for those kind acts during the difficult time.
"I appreciate your support," Gail said. "When Robert passed away, you can't believe the support that we got...I remember Robert telling me about a year ago, he said, 'Boy, we sure do have a good school board now.' I know he appreciated y'all."