It is with great sadness that the family of Ronald N. Davis announces his passing after a long battle with Dementia with Lewy Body, on January17, 2019, at the age of 82 years.
Ronnie, as he was known by his family and closest friends, was born and raised in Laurel Hill, Florida. He was the only surviving child of H.P. and Louise Steele Davis and grew up with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins nearby. An older brother, Ray Hugh and younger sister, Carol Jean, passed away in early childhood. He met his best friend to this day, Milton Harden, when they attended Laurel Hill School. He and Milton were both standout basketball players for Ronnie's first cousin, Coach Jason Winfred Davis. He went on to play basketball at Pensacola Junior College and then transferred to Troy State University, where he completed his bachelor's degree in 1959.
In 1957, he met Carol Adams, who became his wife on August 31, 1958. A year later, they welcomed their first daughter, then a second in 1960, a third in 1963, and a fourth in 1969.
Ronnie served his country as a member of the Florida National Guard and the Army in Florida, Alabama, and Arkansas during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963.
After graduating from Troy State, Ronnie returned home to Laurel Hill to coach basketball and teach at Laurel Hill School. In 1965, he and Carol were accepted into the masters program at Auburn University.
They loaded up their three young daughters and moved back to Alabama. Ronnie went on to earn his Masters Degree in Secondary School Administration, while Carol earned a Masters Degree in Elementary Education. This eventually led him to become the principal at Crestview High School in Crestview, Florida where he served for more than 20 years.
While at Crestview High School, Ronnie was asked to serve on the board of directors of the Florida High School Athletic Association. He was later selected as the Executive Director in 1990. During his tenure, he oversaw extensive modernization of the Association's operations and moved the association to the nation's forefront in the use of technology. He established four special recognition programs – the FHSAA Hall of Fame, the Fred E. Rozelle Sportsmanship Awards, the Floyd E. Lay All Sports Awards, and the FHSAA Academic All State Team. Upon his retirement, the academic award was named in his honor.
After leaving FHSAA, Ronnie and Carol started a school at their church with 36 students. A branch from that school, NCCS, has now grown to more than 200 students and is located in Gainesville, Florida. Susan Davis Zehner, their daughter, currently serves as the Assistant Principal for Middle and High school. Ronnie remained active in the school as headmaster and basketball coach before his health forced his retirement.
Ronnie actively served as a deacon of Forest Grove Baptist Church anda served on the Florida Mission Board for six years.
His greatest joy was time spent with his wife of 60 years, his four daughters, his seven grandchildren, and his six great grandchildren. He is survived by his wife, Carol Adams Davis; his daughters Marcia Davis, Catherine Davis Adams (Don), Susan Davis Zehner (Art), and Soni Davis; his grandchildren Andrea Adams Callies, Donald C. Adams, III, Kristen Adams Bowling, Hilary Zehner Davis, and Cameron Radler; and his great-grandchildren Evan, Xzavier, Lilly, Stella, Brixton, and Brylee Kate. He is also survived by his two sisters-in-law, Dr. Hazel Walter and Grace Sadler Pritchard, and many dear friends including Milton Harden, Bruce Crawford, Emmett Windham, and his almost daughter, Jeannine Mallory. He was predeceased by his grandson, Jordan Zehner, and granddaughter, Hannah Zehner.
A celebration of Ronnie's life will be held at the Forest Grove Baptist Church in Alachua, Florida on January 20, 2019 at 2:00 with burial to follow at the Forest Grove Cemetary. Visitation will take place one hour prior to the service at the church.
The family is extremely grateful for the care provided by Dr. Prabir Banik, Dr. Melissa Armstrong, Haven Hospice, and Mrs. Jo Buckles and the wonderful caring staff at Ayers Health and Rehabilitation Center. We cannot thank you all enough for the kindness and love shown to Dad and our family in his final days.
In lieu of flowers, the family would request donations to the Paso Fino Horse Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 1860, Alachua, Florida, 32616 to fund youth scholarships. In the past fifteen years, the foundation, which is chaired by Marcia Davis and long supported by the Davis family, has assisted children involved in the Paso Fino breed attend college or vocational school. To date, the foundation has awarded more than $180,000 in college tuition and assisted more than fifty-five young riders to purse their academic dreams.
Please visit his memorial page at www.williamsthomasfuneralhome.com
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