August 31, 1920 - August 18, 2018
Bill Jim Davis, 97, of Covington, passed away on Saturday, August 18. Born on August 31, 1920 to the late Jesse and Johnnie H. Davis, he graduated from Byars Hall High School in May of 1938 as a four-year honor student. He enlisted in the Navy in 1938. He and his brother, Roy, were aboard the U. S. S. Helena when it was torpedoed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. They both survived the sinking of the Helena which took place 18 months later following a battle with Japanese destroyers in the South Pacific. During his World War II naval service, he held every enlisted rank from Seaman to Chief Petty Officer, having received a combat commission to Ensign in 1943. He was discharged from the Navy in January of 1946. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean War in February of 1950. During that time he served as an Assistant Technical Training officer at the Naval Air Station in Atlanta. He was discharged from active duty in January, 1954 and retired from the Naval Reserve as a Lt. Commander in 1969 having served a total of 31 years. In 1957, he became a State Farm Insurance agent and served in his Covington office for 51 years, retiring in 2008. Mr. Davis entered politics in 1969 when he ran for Congress and placed second in a field of nine. In November of 1970, he was elected to the Tennessee State Senate as the only Independent and served a total of three terms. Due to re-districting, he could not run for re-election in 1982. During his lifetime, he served as commander of the American Legion and VFW post in Covington. A member of the First United Methodist Church in Covington since 1947, he served, over the years, as president of his Sunday School Class and as chairman of numerous committees. In 1988, he helped organize and was Chairman of the Tipton County Veterans Council and held their first Veterans Day luncheon that year. He also organized the first Veterans Day Parade and Luncheon in 1989 and the first Memorial Day Service in 1990. Both events continue to this day. In 1994, working with the City of Covington, he began raising funds to build a Veterans Memorial Museum which opened in 1998. In December of 2009, he wrote and published a book entitled “Abandon Ship” which chronicled his life experiences. It has sold over 800 copies and is currently available on Amazon.com. Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, August 21 at the Covington Funeral Home chapel with interment to follow in Covington Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends two hours prior to the service at the funeral home. He is survived by his wife, Helen Oliver Davis; two daughters, Billie Jean Kennedy of Whiteville, TN and Debbie Alsup of Piperton; two step-sons, Jerry Oliver of Fairfield, IA and Aubrey Oliver of Lakeland; one sister, Shirley Davie of Covington; three grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; three great grandchildren and two step-great grandchildren. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife Jean Davis; one brother, Rob Roy Davis and one sister, Joy Davis Caplena. The family requests that memorials be made to the Tipton County Veterans Museum, Honor Flight or the Wounded Warrior Project.
For a personal interview and recollections of Mr. Davis, please see the following: