Davis death felt statewide

Published 3:40 pm Saturday, March 27, 2010

AHOSKIE – The affects of the death of Hertford County Commissioner DuPont L. Davis early Thursday morning is being felt from Manteo to Murphy.

Davis, who served more than two decades as a commissioner, was well known throughout the state thanks to both his longevity and his service with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

Officials throughout the state have expressed their condolences for the region’s loss of its most visible public servant.

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue awarded Davis the Order of the Long Leaf Pine last year and remembered him Friday morning as a person who strived to make the state a better place.

“Commissioner Davis was a dedicated public servant who always put the best interest of his community first,” Governor Perdue said. “He always strived to make our state a better place. I will miss him and Hertford County and eastern North Carolina will miss his leadership.”

North Carolina State Senator Ed Jones (D-4th) called Davis an icon in Hertford County and said he will be truly missed.

“He was an icon in Hertford County. He was a go-to guy,” Senator Jones said. “If you wanted something done, you needed to see DuPont.

“He was always straight forward,” Senator Jones added. “He didn’t beat around the bush. If he wanted you to know something, he told you. You might be insulted at first, but you walked away knowing he was telling the truth.”

The senator also said Davis was one of the best at knowing about legislation and how it affected Hertford County and doing his homework.

Representative Annie W. Mobley (D-5th) also said she would miss serving with Davis.

“It’s difficult to put into words the shock you receive when you lose one who is a true leader in the community for so many years,” Rep. Mobley said. “It is certainly a loss to the community. I hope we can put together the pieces and move on.”

Davis was also highly respected in the judicial community. Two local judges and the district attorney called him a friend and said he was a man of great character.

“From the time I first met him, he was a natural leader,” Resident Superior Court Judge Cy Grant said. “People always gravitated toward DuPont. He was a leader in whatever situation he was in.

“He was also a person of strong character who was highly principled,” Judge Grant added. “He had a keen sense of right and wrong. He was not uncompromising, but he never compromised on matters of principal.”

Judge Grant also remembered how much Davis loved Hertford County.

“He was an advocate for Hertford County and he loved Hertford County,” he said. “That, in essence, showed his love for the people of Hertford County.”

Chief District Court Judge Alfred W. Kwasikpui also remembered Davis for his great work.

“Commissioner Davis was a giant in this community,” Judge Kwasikpui said. “He championed the needs of people who lacked a voice. Commissioner Davis was committed every day to serving his constituents.

“We have suffered a great loss, but we’ll continue to be inspired by the example he set as a public servant,” Judge Kwasikpui added.

Judicial District 6B Attorney Valerie Asbell echoed the same sentiments.

“DuPont Davis was a great man,” Asbell said. “He had a lot of wonderful character traits. The one I found particularly appealing was his ability to be truthful and direct in his words and his actions.

“DuPont had a great sense of humor and wit about him; he liked to pick on me and that is when I realized he liked me,” she added. “DuPont was a God-fearing man who loved his family and his community. I will miss him and his legacy will carry on through great memories of him.”

Two men who served with Davis both in Hertford County and statewide also remembered him as a strong man who fought for what is right.

“As a former Hertford County Manager and now as the Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, I cannot express adequately the loss that the State of North Carolina is feeling with the passing of DuPont Davis,” David Thompson said. “He has been an outstanding mentor to many of us in county government through his constant work in serving the citizens of not only Hertford County, but the entire State of North Carolina.

“We have lost one of the true community stewards of our state,” Thompson continued. “People are always trying to measure the value of a man’s life after they have passed away. Whenever I am asked in the future about the value that DuPont Davis brought to his fellow citizens through his public service, my response will be fairly easy – it was priceless.”

Tim Ware serves as Executive Director of the Mid-East Commission where Davis served for nearly 20 years.

“He’s truly someone we’re going to miss,” Ware said. “He was one of our biggest supporters in Hertford County. He was always there to support us when we needed it. DuPont saw the bigger picture and supported all five of the counties we serve.”

Ware said while Davis was sometimes a tough board member, he made everyone around him better.

“He was tough on you,” Ware said. “When he asked questions, he wanted the right answers and he rarely asked a question if he didn’t already know the answer. He made me a better executive director for it and he made the whole Mid-East Commission better.”

Where his loss will be most significant, however, is among his brethren who served as fellow county commissioners throughout North Carolina.

“In my opinion, you wouldn’t find a person who is as supportive of the citizens not only of Hertford County, but of eastern North Carolina,” Bertie County Board of Commissioners Chairman Norman M. Cherry Sr. said. “If I had to use one word to describe DuPont, it would be caring. He always cared for the people he served.”

Cherry said during his early years of service, he often received advice from Davis and he listened to what the commissioner had to say.

Bertie County Commissioner L.C. Hoggard III was also a close friend of Davis and said he was still struggling with the fact his friend and mentor had passed away.

“Personally, it was a tough loss for me,” Hoggard said. “From the time I got to know him, he was always supportive. I will miss talking to him on Saturday mornings.

“He was a mentor to me,” Hoggard added. “It’s like losing a member of my family. I know he’s gone way too soon.”

Northampton County Commission Chair Fannie Greene said she was also saddened to hear of Davis’ death.

“He was a great friend of mine,” Greene said. “We shared many special moments when we attended state and national conferences. We will certainly miss him.”

Robert Carter, who also serves as a Northampton County Commissioner, said he was shocked at the news of Davis’ passing.

“DuPont was one of the reasons I sought office in Northampton County as a commissioner,” Carter said. “He was proud of his community and serving as a Commissioner in Hertford County because of the work he was able to do for the citizens of the county.

“It inspired me to seek office in Northampton County so I could try to make a difference for our citizens,” Carter added. “He’s going to be greatly missed.”

Gates County Commissioner Carlton Nickens, who grew up in Hertford County, spoke on behalf of that group.

“I was very shocked to learn of DuPont’s death,” Nickens said. “I was born and raised in Hertford County, so I’ve known DuPont for a long, long time. He was a role model for anyone wanting to be a county commissioner or for anyone that is a county commissioner.

“He was very helpful to me when I was new to the (Gates County) board,” Nickens added. “He encouraged me to call him for advice at anytime I felt I needed his guidance.”

Two other commissioners from around the state also spoke well of Davis.

Cumberland County Commissioner Billy King called Davis a great friend and a leader in North Carolina.

“I’ve known DuPont an awfully long time,” King said. “He was a fine individual that loved his community, Hertford County and his family. His death is a great loss to eastern North Carolina in terms of political clout. He was a giant in the community.”

Person County Commissioner Ray Jeffers is the youngest commissioner in North Carolina. He said he had learned a great deal from Davis.

“I met Commissioner Davis when I came on the board a year ago,” Jeffers said. “I learned more sitting in his room listening to him speak than I did in several sessions at our conferences. He was very much a mentor with me being new and the youngest county commissioner in the state.

“His advice was beneficial and he always gave me hints and told me what I really needed to know,” Jeffers closed.