DAVIS, ALAN (10 March 1925 - 18 Sept. 1999) was the executive director of the CITY CLUB OF CLEVELAND and an activist preacher who devoted his life to fighting for the oppressed and serving the poor. Davis was born in Shelby, Ohio, to Dorthy (Judkins) and Thoburn Davis. Davis, who grew up in Cleveland Heights, served in the signal corps in WORLD WAR II. Following the war, Davis entered Yale University and played on the baseball team captained by George Bush. He earned his bachelors degree in 1949 and entered Yale Divinity School, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity in 1953. From 1953 to 1961, Davis served at the North Royalton Methodist Church. From 1961 to 1968 he served at Aldersgate Methodist Church in WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, one of the first suburban churches to have an integrated congregation. Davis was reassigned to the prestigious United Methodist Church of Berea in 1968, but left 18 months later following the breakup of his marriage to his second wife, Lois E. Fejes. He served as the public affairs director for the former WKBF-TV and then became the 11th executive director of the City Club in 1970. The same year, he accepted a position as interim pastor at St. Phillip's Christian Church, Disciples of Christ - a position that became permanent. Davis retired from the City Club and St. Phillips in 1993.
The trauma of World War II influenced Davis to address civil rights and peace issues from the pulpit. He became an associate of Martin Luther King Jr. and a long time co-chairman of the Emergency Clergy Committee for Civil Rights. St. Phillip's, which traditionally emphasized social activism, continued that role under Davis' leadership. A tiny church located in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, Cedar-Central, St. Phillip's provided emergency food supplies and tutoring for neighborhood children. Every Easter, Davis led an early-morning march to draw attention to the problems of the poor. Davis also lobbied for better health services in the neighborhood.
While his work at St. Phillip's placed Davis in direct contact with the poor, his position as executive director of the City Club resulted in Davis developing close contacts with local businessmen and public officials. Davis recruited speakers of diverse philosophies and backgrounds from around the nation and across the world to speak at the City Club. After retirement, Davis devoted some time to the Volgograd Forum, a free speech forum similar to the City Club in Volgograd, Russia.
Davis married three times; his first two marriages to Neva J. Foley and Lois E. Fejes failed. His marriage to Beatrice Jones continued until his death. Davis had three children with his first wife, Neva: Marilyn, Catherine (Whitfield), and Jeffrey Alan. After suffering a stroke, Davis died after suffering a stroke and is buried in Lakewood Park Cemetery in Rocky River, OH.
View image at Cleveland Public Library.
View photo gallery at Cleveland Public Library.