Elliott McIver Davis, known fondly as Mac, was remembered Monday by those who knew him best for his determination, public service and love of family.
Davis, a Howard University graduate and former V.I. solicitor general, died Saturday night in Virginia. He was 70.
“We are heartbroken. Our Mac passed away peacefully and surrounded by his family. He beat cancer after battling it for more than 20 years. He pressed on regardless, as he liked to say, and we will too in his honor,” the family said in a released statement.
Davis served the St. Thomas community as a Rotarian, Salvation Army volunteer, Magens Bay Authority board member and Antilles School board of trustees president.
He served as chairman of the Rotary Club of St. Thomas II’s Person of the Year Award Committee, a post he enjoyed because of the secrecy about the recipient until the individual — much to their surprise — was announced.
The prestigious award was given annually, and in 2002, Davis was surprised to discover the tables had turned, and he was presented with the award.
During his acceptance speech, he concluded with a quote that friends and family often remember him saying, “Today is a gift; make the most of it.”
Jeni Smith remembers Davis as her “oldest and dearest friend.”
Smith's parents owned a guest house where Davis’ parents stayed when they visited St. Thomas from stateside.
When the family moved to the island, Smith and Davis became childhood friends, and would go on to celebrate many holidays and birthdays together.
“Mac was a very caring person. When we needed someone at the hospital with my dad, he was the first one to volunteer. He was that kind of person, ready to give you the shirt off his back,” Smith said Monday. Davis received his law degree from the Howard University and worked as solicitor general under Gov. John de Jongh Jr.
“His knowledge of government, the participants and understanding of our community were elegantly reflected in the letters drafted, his crafting of proposed legislation or communicating our position to the Senate,” de Jongh said in a statement.
Sharon Hupprich of Calypso Realty, another close family friend, remembered Davis fondly.
“What a great friend and family man he was, and that he loved St. Thomas more than anything, Magens Bay in particular,” Hupprich said.
Davis was invited to serve on the Magens Bay Authority Board in 2006 by then- chairman Aubrey Nelthropp and served as vice chairman for two years and secretary for nine years.
“Although his officer positions, especially that of secretary, were important, his biggest contribution was helping the authority with the acquisition of Smith Bay Park (Lindqvist Beach)” Magens Bay Authority chair Katina Coulianos said in a statement. “To view, experience and participate in the beauty of these places is to understand how Mac felt about them and this island.”
Daily News controller Juanita Young, a family friend of nearly 40 years, fondly recalled that Davis had a knack for staying on topic.
As board chair for Antilles School, he’d look at the agenda and say “‘20 minutes for this, 10 minutes for this,’ and when your 20 minutes was up, he’d take a vote to move to the next topic,” resulting in shorter meetings.
Young met Davis’ wife Debbie, when they both had children at Antilles School. She also served on the board with Davis for many years. She said he was a family man and “in my opinion, viewed every day as a gift” following his diagnosis.
“On Mother’s Day, he would always give his mother-in-law flowers to thank her for his wife,” she said, adding “he was always really proud of his children” Joseph, an attorney; Elizabeth, a veterinarian; and Elliott Davis, a former Daily News intern who now works for U.S. News and World Report.
Later in his life, Davis also became an avid cyclist and marathon runner.
Hupprich, who teared up Monday remembering Davis, said her fondest memory was “watching him run the New York Marathon” in 2004.
"My husband, Fred, and I went to New York with the family and we were all at the finish line cheering him,” she said. “It was amazing. I think what was more amazing — he did so after he was diagnosed. He was always determined that he was gong to beat it — and he did it for many years.”