Floral 11

Ronald Douglas Davis, Sr.

May 28, 1950 ~ October 17, 2023 (age 73) 73 Years Old

Ronald Davis, Sr. Obituary

Ronald D. Davis, Sr. had a remarkable life.  It was filled with commitment, service, and love for his community and his family.  He transitioned peacefully to heaven on Tuesday, October 17, 2023. Ron was 73 years old. His beloved mother, Mary Murray Davis, father William Edward Davis, Jr., and sisters Syliva Murphy and Rosella Hobbs, preceded him in death.

Ron was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on May 28, 1950, to Mary Murray Davis and William Edward Davis, Jr. He grew up one of seven children in the historically African American West Knoxville community of Lyons View.

From a young age, Ron’s dad taught him and his siblings the joy that comes from time in nature as he also found joy when working outside. As scoutmaster for the local Boy Scouts troop, Papa Will often took the boys out hunting, fishing, and camping. Ron enjoyed visiting a cabin in the Elkmont area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

In the spring of 1967, Ron was offered a summer job at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in Norris, Tennessee, through the Youth Opportunity Program. Ron’s duties included working in the fisheries group where he was out on the TVA lakes almost daily helping to conduct fisheries and aquatic research with some of the most world-renown biologists. 

Ron’s hard work and dedication landed him a full-time position at TVA immediately following his summer job. Ron’s job offer included a scholarship to attend Haywood Technical Institute in Clyde, North Carolina, to study forestry.

Upon completion of his associate degree in 1969, Ron became one of the first five African Americans in the United States to receive a forestry degree. Then in 1975, he then became the first African American to be awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry from the University of Tennessee. 

Ron will be remembered for his numerous accomplishments and work ethic. He held a variety of positions at TVA, including managing over 50 employees and associated budgets. Ron retired in 2004 as Manager of Environmental Compliance for River Systems Operations.  He worked for nearly 38 years.

Ron’s compassion for his community led him to becoming the co-founder of Minorities in Natural Resources (MINRC), an organization that endeavors to promote academic and professional advancement by empowering people of color in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences. 

Those left to cherish his memories include his beloved wife, Dr. Maxine Thompson Davis, daughter Renee Kelly (Todd), sons Ron Davis, Jr., and Khary Thompson (Christina), brothers Edward (Liane), Stanford (Alecia), Stephen (Tanya), and Theodore (Sheila) Davis, his beloved eight grandchildren, Clarke Kelly, Britney Davis, Todd Kelly Jr. (Makenzie), Kamariah Thompson, Trey Davis, Nia, Avani, and Ellura Thompson,  three great-grandchildren, D.J. and Baleigh Booker, and Tenn C. Kelly, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.

We all look forward to the day when we are greeted by Ron in heaven where he will be walking in the most beautiful gardens and finding joy in the stunning nature of heaven. 

Ron, you will forever be in our hearts. We love you!

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the TKJ Foundation at tkjfoundation.com. On the website, you may give under the “Donate” tab on the home page. Checks should be made payable to the TKJ Foundation and mailed to 3053 Creekbend Lane, Knoxville, TN 37931.


The Repast will be held at WillSon’s Farm, 3346 Rankin Ferry Loop, Louisville, TN following the burial.

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Receiving Friends
October 26, 2023

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Greater Warner Tabernacle AME Zion Church

Funeral Service
October 26, 2023

12:00 PM
Greater Warner Tabernacle AME Zion Church

October 26, 2023

3:00 PM
Sherwood Memorial Gardens
3176 Airport Hwy
Alcoa, TN 37701


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