Cover photo for Dr. James Davis's Obituary
Dr. James Davis Profile Photo
1934 Dr. 2021

Dr. James Davis

May 18, 1934 — January 8, 2021

Athens, Ohio

Dr. James Earl Davis, 86, of Athens, Ohio died Friday, January 8, 2021, at home surrounded by his family.  Born May 18, 1934, in Morehead, Kentucky, he was the son of the late William James Davis and Oda Hazel Padgett Davis.

Professor Davis received B. A. and M. A. degrees from Morehead State University.  He taught English, Drama, and Speech at Morehead High School for 5 years where he directed several plays including “Our Town” and produced award winning students in both drama and speech.  He also taught English at Morehead State University, did graduate work at the University of Iowa and the University of Kentucky, before completing his Ph.D. degree at Florida State University.  He also received an honorary doctorate of letters degree at Morehead State University in 1998.

Other accomplishments include Chair of the Department of English at Ohio University, Athens (1978-1983), Founder and President of the Southeastern Ohio Council of Teachers of English, President of the Ohio Council of Teachers of English, and President of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Dr. Davis published well over three hundred articles and chapters in books and gave presentations around the country on such subjects as intellectual freedom, censorship, and the importance of language and literature.  He edited and co-edited a number of books and co-authored Presenting William Sleator with his wife, Hazel K. Davis.  He passed his love of teaching down to his many students and to his children and grandchildren.  His son Christopher taught English for 30 years in Troy, Ohio and granddaughter Irene currently teaches English at Athens High School.

His many interests also included antiques, yard sales, auctions, gardening, bird watching, reading mysteries, keeping up with politics, caring for a parade of dogs and cats over the years, but most of all proudly following what his grandchildren and great-grandchildren were doing.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by four sisters: Geneva Davis, Betty Fugate, Wilma Coomer, and Lovena Richardson, and a brother William C. (“Ralph”) Davis.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Hazel (Kidd); three children, James Christopher (Connie), Charles Michael, and Rebecca Laura Hancock Pickett; five grandchildren, Rachael Davis (Zach) Pate of Greencastle, Indiana, Adam Davis of Pittsboro, Indiana, Eugene Hancock of Athens, Ohio, Irene Hancock of Athens, Ohio, and Jessica Lee Davis of Athens, Ohio, five great-grandchildren, Patrick, Emma, and Caitlin Pate, and Hazel and Oliver Davis; numerous nieces and nephews including Wilma (“Sissy”) Lewis and Eugene Davis both of Morehead, Dr. David Richardson and Dr. Ronald Richardson both of Louisville, Kentucky, and Paul Richardson of Morehead.

A memorial service to celebrate Jim’s life will be held at 1:30 P.M. Saturday, July 10, 2021 in the chapel of the Michael R. Gray Funeral Home in Morehead led by Pastor Matt Richardson.

Interment will be in the Lee Cemetery.

Visitation will be from 12:30 P.M. to 1:30 P.M. Saturday at the funeral home.

The family request that attendees who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 to wear masks.

The Michael R. Gray Funeral Home in Morehead is caring for all arrangements.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. James Davis, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, July 10, 2021

12:30 - 1:30 pm (Eastern time)

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Celebration of Life Memorial Service

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Starts at 1:30 pm (Eastern time)

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