As a graduate of Mount Vernon High School, Jim Davis has been a Mount Vernon District resident for 35 years. In that time he has immersed himself in civic activities involving everything from serving on the Board of Directors of the Sulgrave Manor Civic Association to the Engineering Standard Review Committee of Fairfax County.
He has been particularly involved with a range of environmental concerns. He has been an active participant in the Little Hunting Creek Watershed Study, serves on the Environment and Recreation Committee of the Mount Vernon Council, and is a member of the newly constituted Area Plan Nominations Review Task Force.
However, his real life endeavor is a far cry from all his civic interests. As a 1978 graduate of George Mason University, Davis holds a bachelor’s degree in music for piano and composition. He operates a musical keyboard service for "mechanical action acoustic instruments" out of his Old Mount Vernon Road home, that is shared with his wife, Amy Coggins, and their 9-year-old Labrador retriever, Curley.
"I travel to private homes and institutions to tune instruments such as pianos and pipe organs. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing a beautifully played composition coming out of an instrument you have tuned to perfection," he said.
As with many entrepreneurs, Davis began his profession through happenstance.
"I was out putting up signs for composition students and went into Campbell's music store in Alexandria. The owner asked if I would be interested in tuning pianos and I said why not," Davis said.
"However, I was only there two months, and hadn't been paid, when two representatives from the parent company in Florida showed up and closed the store. They also announced no salaries would be paid," he said. "That taught me a lesson. I've been on my own ever since."
Here are Davis’ thoughts on a variety of subjects:
How would you describe yourself?
A bubbling personality. I like to think of myself as being very conscientious on tasks I undertake.
What is your favorite part of your career?
Working with new technology such as the new tuners for pianos and hearing a sound come out of an instrument being played by a real professional that is perfect. That is very rewarding. I pride myself in being not so old fashioned that I can't change with technological advancement.
What are your key ties to your community and your favorite part of community involvement?
My favorite part of community involvement is sticking my nose into everybody's business and getting involved in a variety of tasks. I really enjoy serving.
What is the one thing about your community that you enjoy that you think most people don't know about?
All the various trail connections that enable people to get to a wide range of historic sites and recreational facilities by foot and bike.
What are some of your favorite places in your area?
Gil McCutchen's Farmer's Market throughout the summer on Sherwood Hall Lane is a particular one. As for restaurants I like the Village Wharf, Hunan Royale and the Peruvian chicken place on Route 1.
If you were king of your community what would everyone have to do?
But, I am king [laughing]. They would have to live their lives to the fullest and try to truly enjoy every day.
What is the one thing you would change about your community?
The only thing I'd change here would be the addition of more sidewalks so that people could walk or bike throughout the neighborhoods without being in danger from vehicle traffic. It would also help drivers and make everything safer.
What book would you recommend to others?
"Tom the Dancing Bug Stories." It's a real hoot.
What's your favorite television show?
“Law and Order.” All of them.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Wilmington, N.C. It's a great blend of a relaxed city and being near the beach.
What is your favorite quotation?
Mark Twain's "We're all ignorant, but in different ways."