In follow up to our countdown story on James E. and Claudette Davis, we asked alumni to send us recollections. We got some wonderful responses. Here are a few that we think you will enjoy.
Coach Davis was on me to play football. I told him that I was not playing. My plan was to avoid spring practice. Then my plan was to come out when the regular season started. Mr. Davis said, Robert, you are to play and I said, I’m not playing now. Coach Davis arrived at our house at 5:30 a.m. the next morning and ended up having coffee and breakfast with my mom. I ended up having to go to spring training! ~Robert Reeves ‘70
As a 1972 graduate of ZHS I had the opportunity of knowing Mr. Jimmy Davis during his days as a teacher and principal. He was the epitome of a true, southern gentleman, and I always had a tremendous amount of respect for him. However, it was not until I married into the Hill family in 1975, that I really got to know him well. He was like a third son to Ada and Ed Hill (my in-laws) and another brother to my late husband, Dale, and brother in-law, Carl. Over the years we spent many special times together as “southern” families do—great meals, celebrations of marriage, anniversaries, births, birthdays and even those times of mourning as we said farewell to our loved ones.
There was always one constant…and that was Jimmy’s presence! He was always there for us…in good times and bad. But the most wonderful memories that my family shared with Jimmy are the many special hunting trips spent together in our camp in southwest Georgia. Jimmy was by far the best friend to Ed, Ada and Dale and Carl, but as our children (Tiffani, Britni, Dustin, Heather, Kara and David) grew up, they too loved Jimmy and his family as if they were blood relatives. He was a tremendous support to my children and I during Dale’s death in 1995, and a wonderful mentor to all of our children in regard to educational endeavors. He always gave wise advice to us and it was guided by his moral compass and tremendous compassion to see others succeed in life. His educational background and loving support helped to pave the way for the success that our children have experienced in both college and their early careers. I so wish Jim and Claudette a wonderful retirement and many years of contentment that is so well deserved! I salute Jimmy Davis as both an educational mentor and a wonderful friend!! He is truly a beloved and extended part of the HILL family… and always will be. ~Judy (Alston) Hill ‘72
I was a student under Mr. Davis; he was a teacher, mentor, and without me knowing it a friend. I can clearly recall my math class with Mr. Davis. Ben Cook and Tony Neal were in the class with me, and we received some special tutoring on a regular basis. Our parents had agreed to corporal punishment as needed, and well let’s just say, we needed it more than I like to remember. He also would let me sneak away to the lunchroom where my grandmother worked (Belle Locke) to scam a couple of her best fresh-baked yeast rolls. I always shared! I left ZHS for three years to attend Brandon and returned just after Christmas break in the 11th grade. Sure enough there was Mr. Davis, and we resumed our special relationship, yet now it was more of a mentoring and coaching friendship. He often asked, “Kenny, what are you going to do with your life?” I really did not know. He helped guide me to the Air Force where I served 20 years and retired. I would often see Jim after I left school. My mother Nell Nesbit, ZHS Class of ’56, worked as a special education assistant, so I would stop in and talk with Jim. He was always interested in what I was doing, and what my plans were. He was a true example of leadership. I learned so much from him, and I hope in the end he is proud of me as a student and a person. ~Ken Nesbit ‘72
My memories of Mr. Davis are as ”Coach” because that is what he always was to us. My older brothers were on the football and track teams so I got to hang around their practices from about fourth grade on. I remember Coach giving the players instructions on running through the line in football. Then without pads on he would show them. I also remember him being the strongest person I had ever seen—lifting weights. I remember going fishing with him along with my dad and brothers. Then later on as Dean of Boys getting sent to his office; he would tell me to not do whatever it was that got me sent to the office and then we would talk about fishing. He was a very respected person growing up and a father-type figure as well. Thanks, Coach Davis! ~Keith Reeves ‘76
I remember my brother, Larry Thomas, class of 1970 who thought highly of Coach Davis as his JV football coach in the late 60’s. I had him at Junior High. You always knew he would listen and he always carried himself like an exemplary leader. Gee! He witnessed a lot of changes. He may have been old school by the one’s I see today, but had good character – Solid character! ~Cyndee Thomas ‘79
Claudette Davis is a classy southern lady! She was a wonderful co-worker who brought energy, wit, and knowledge to the worksites she served in Pasco County. My years working with Claudette were some of the most enjoyable times of my career that I spent working at West Zephyrhills Elementary School. She made it fun–not like work at all. She was truly the best of friend to me through challenging and changing times in education.~ Nancy Massey Perkins ’70
All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise
All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise