Mount Vernon Few of us at age 19 are able to forecast very far where we might be in five or 10 years. So it was with Harry Henry Davis, who at age 19 was working as a grocery delivery boy at a local market in Hollin Hall, south of Old Town Alexandria.
A church member of Plymouth Haven Baptist Church who used the market approached Davis to ask if he might be interested in a custodian position at the church. Davis was driven about a mile down Fort Hunt Road to the church, and was introduced to then Pastor Charles Nunn.
Nunn approved his hiring after a short time, and on April 12, 1964, Davis began what was to be the job of his life, 50 years of dedicated service to the same employer, and memories of friends, pastors and families who came and departed during his time with the church. Davis officially retired on May 30.
Davis and his wife, the former Dee Beam, were married in September 1979. They have two children, Derek and Marisa, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. The grandchildren, Rashad, Rasheem, and Raman were often seen with Davis at the church on Saturdays, and from a young age through their teens attended Vacation Bible School as students and later as helpers. The great-grandson, also Rashad, who Davis refers to as his pride and joy, has followed suit and is a student in the Plymouth Haven Christian Preschool. His wife is a retiree from government service following 29 years in several organizations.
On May 13, the Plymouth Haven Baptist Church family joined with many of Davis’ close friends, family members, and community members to commemorate his 50th year with the church, and to celebrate his retirement. Three of the 11 pastors Davis served with attended, including Nunn who hired him 50 years ago; the Rev. Doug Farmer who now operates a youth camp at Shenandoah Springs, and the Rev. Steve Foss, current pastor. Several letters from those who were unable to attend were read and presented to Davis with best wishes and prayers. His kindness, reliability, and help were also noted by representatives of the Alexandria Garden Club, Quarterly Quilters, and Piano Recital whose gatherings are at the church.
The master of ceremony, retired Col. Les Gilbert, led the gathering through numerous personal accounts, humorous and serious, of experiences with Davis. One story about Davis’ cars brought to mind the daily caravan of slow-moving vehicles stuck behind his 1970 Buick as he proceeded to and from work on Fort Hunt Rodd, with Redskins flags flying from the roof above the windows. He drove that car for over 340,000 miles.
A pictorial presentation of Davis’ life from beginning to near present was a highlight, and was followed by presentations of departing gifts from the community, the church, and the Properties Committee.
Davis has lived in Alexandria his entire life, and has attended Zion Baptist Church since childhood. He has been on the board of deacons for more than 40 years.