2024-06-18 9:18 AM

Milt Davis, Former Mason English Dept. Head, Dies

Fittingly for a high school English teacher, Milt Davis loved a good story, classics like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Of Mice and Men.” His personal favorite, the one he shared often with family and friends, was the story of how he proposed to his wife, Bettie.

The young couple was out for a drive one night in 1952 when Milt pulled to the side of a country road to nervously pop the question. Just as he finished speaking, he got a response: “MOOOOOO!” Because of the darkness, the startled couple realized that a cow was standing practically next to the car when it delivered its untimely bellow. Happily, however, Bettie said yes, and their marriage lasted almost 60 years until her death in 2012.

George Milton Davis died on Dec. 9, 2020, in Ashburn, after a long illness. He was 90 years old. Born on May 1, 1930, Milt was one of three children to Marvin and Dorothy (nee Cook) Davis in Fountain Inn, S.C. Growing up on a farm, Milt would recall having lots of pets and playing marbles with his younger brother Jack and friends. At Fountain Inn High School he played football alongside his twin brother, Wilt. After graduation, Milt went to Berea College in Kentucky, earning a bachelor’s degree in English in 1951. It was in college that Milt would meet the woman who would become his wife. He and Bettie married on Oct. 26, 1952, and went on to have three children, Lydia, Gary and Dee Dee.

College was followed by Officer Candidate School with the U.S. Navy, which led to assignment on the USS Missouri battleship during the Korean War. After leaving the service, Milt earned a master’s degree from Duke University in 1956 and embarked on a long career in education. The first four years, he taught English at Washington-Lee, Wakefield and Yorktown High Schools in Arlington. The next 30 years were spent at George Mason High School in Falls Church, Virginia, where he was head of the English department and retired in 1990.

Throughout that time he was active in his church, Columbia Baptist Church, where he was a deacon. He also taught an adult Sunday School class with the same core group of members for well over 20 years.

As a lifelong educator, Milt was beloved by his students and touched thousands of lives, something they shared in letters to the family and in social media posts. Milt and Bettie also developed a strong bond with an exchange student who lived with the family for a year. The student, Matt, considered Milt to be his second dad.

Having a father who taught high school had its benefits. As a little boy, Gary was the lucky recipient of squirt guns, super balls and other forbidden toys Milt confiscated from his students. As teenagers, attending the high school where their father taught was a mixed blessing. On one hand, “if I forgot my lunch money, I could always go to dad,” Dee Dee says. Milt attended Gary’s football games and proofread all the siblings’ essays. But there were awkward moments, too, like when Milt would come upon his son holding hands and kissing a girlfriend in the hallways. And somehow Milt knew to scold Lydia after she skipped a geometry class.

In retirement, Milt picked up many of the household duties while Bettie was still working. He also avidly followed his favorite sports teams from his La-Z-Boy recliner. Baseball was a particular passion, and the family shared his joy when the Washington Nationals finally won a World Series in 2019. The Washington Redskins and the Duke men’s basketball team were also high on Milt’s list.

Milt was predeceased by his parents, wife and twin brother, Robert Wilton Davis. He and Bettie also lost a son, Keith Ray, in infancy.

Survivors include his brother, Jack Henry Davis of Hendersonville, North Carolina, and three children. Lydia (Charlie) Pratt of Sunset, South Carolina, Gary (Maureen) Davis of Fredericksburg and Dee Dee (Mark) Sharron of Rincon, Georgia.

Also surviving him are eight grandchildren, Ryan, Joshua and Suzana Pratt; Caitlin Penning and Cole Davis; and Matthew Sharron, Stephanie Turner and Rebecca Sharron. Three great-grandchildren survive him as well: Ella and Chase Pratt and River Turner.

As per his wishes, Milt was cremated, and his remains will be interred with those of his wife in Berea, Kentucky. Because of the coronavirus, a memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial donations can be made directly to Berea College or the National Kidney Foundation. Arrangements are being handled by Money & King Funeral Home.

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