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The Honorable Judge Frank M. Davis, a Unicoi County native and a longtime resident of Dillon, Mont., died peacefully at his Montana residence Saturday evening, Jan. 1, 2011. He was 89.
Judge Davis was a long-time Dillon attorney, who served as 5th Judicial District judge from 1982 until his retirement from the bench in 2000. During his tenure, Judge Davis presided over several high profile cases, including the “Mountain Man” trial of 1984 and later the murder trial of TV star Patrick Duffy’s parents. Judge Davis also made a noted ruling in the disposition of the will of renowned media personality, Charles Kuralt.
Upon his arrival in Dillon in 1953, he joined established Dillon attorney Theodore McFadden as a junior law partner. From the beginning of his Dillon life, Judge Davis was the consummate community activist.
As president of the Dillon Jaycees, the young attorney spearheaded a project to construct a city park at its present site on Center Street. He was the first chairman of the Dillon Jaycee Rodeo, which later became known as “Montana’s Biggest Little Weekend.”
The young Davis had a love for acting and theater. He was involved in numerous productions for the Dillon Ski Club and later went on to form the popular Wapiti Players, with annual productions at the Dillon Elks Lodge.
Before becoming a judge, Mr. Davis was well known as “Voice of the Beavers” and “Voice of the Bulldogs,” his mellifluous voice calling play by play games for both the high school and college squads for local radio station KDBM.
Mr. Davis was born Nov. 2, 1921, in Unicoi. At the age of 22, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, and as a member of the 8th Air Force, served with distinction in the European Theater of Operation during World War II until his honorable discharge in 1945. His war-time service earned S.Sgt. Davis both the Good Conduct Medal and the Bronze Star. It was during his war-time service in London that Davis met his future wife WAC Corp. Joan M. Faller of Dillon. They were married by the mayor of Luxembourg on VE Day, 1945.
Following his service in the armed forces, he attended the University of Tennessee Law School. His legal career included a tenure as a law professor at Dickenson Law School in Carlisle, Pa., and 30 years as a practicing attorney in Dillon. He received the Distinguished Faculty Award from the University of Montana for his work as a visiting faculty member of the Advanced Trial Advocacy Program.
Judge Davis is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Joan, who died in 2000.
Survivors include five children: sons, Randolph of Portland, Ore.; Philip (Yoko) of Renton, Wash.; Stephen (Adrienne) of Stevensville, Mont.; daughters, Ann Davis of Billings, Mont.; Ruth Wrinkle (Mark) of Orangevale, Calif.; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; brothers, Walter Davis (Tommie) and Dean Davis, all of Unicoi; and sisters, Elizabeth (Joe) Walker of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Juanita Davis of Unicoi.
Frank had been working on his own obituary shortly before his death. It began like this: “Frank Davis was not born in a log cabin, but his parents planned to move into one as soon as they could afford to… .”
A funeral mass was celebrated at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church Friday, Jan. 7, at 12:10 p.m.
Memorials may be made to the Dillon Library, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.
Brundage Funeral Home of Dillon, Mont., was in charge.