FSD 19-13 Memorial for John Davis

February 27, 2020

Purdue University Northwest Faculty Senate

Faculty Senate Document 19-13

Memorial for Professor Emeritus John Davis

For information: December 13, 2019


John E. Davis, Ed.D., passed from this life on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at the age of 85. He was born December 28, 1933 and raised by his parents in Bend, Oregon. His is survived by his wife of 63 years, Betty J. David, a Purdue Calumet professor emerita of human services, and his children Barbara and Jeff, several grandchildren, and a great granddaughter. He and Betty made their home in Highland.

John held a bachelor’s degree from Oregon College of Education and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Oregon. All of his degrees were in elementary education.

Before coming to Purdue, he served as an associate professor of education at Central Washington State College and taught in elementary schools in Oregon.

John came to Purdue University, Calumet Campus (now Purdue University Northwest) in 1969 as an associate professor of education and was promoted to full professor of education in 1978. John retired in 1998 as Professor Emeritus of Education.

He taught graduate and undergraduate courses in elementary reading, language arts, children’s literature, and education research. His favorite course to teach was children’s literature. He also served as an advisor for graduate students in education and a teacher education certification officer. The latter, an administrative job, was not his favorite assignment, but he did it with good humor.

John received recognition as an outstanding undergraduate teacher five times. On one occasion, in 1972, he received the Standard Oil Outstanding Teacher Award which, at the time, was voted on by students. His students saw him as an extremely effective, caring, and thoughtful teacher. He had a self-deprecating, dry wit, loved by everyone: faculty, staff, and students. He used to say, jokingly, “I can’t talk now, I’m on my way to ‘clash.’” A favorite story told to his aspiring elementary education students was about one of his 5th grade students, when asked about his homework, who said, “A cow ate it.” And it was apparently true.

John authored numerous articles published in scholarly journals and consistently presented papers at professional meetings throughout his university career. He was in high demand as a workshop presenter on reading and creative teaching. He regularly used his voice accompanied by a guitar to make his point to undergraduate elementary education majors on motivating elementary children to read. He was a compelling storyteller, especially with children.

He served as a consultant in reading and language arts for school corporations throughout Indiana and helped coordinate teacher workshops and in-service programs in remedial reading in several other states. Active in the Indiana State Reading Council and the International Reading Association, Professor Davis held offices in reading organizations at both state and national levels.

John was not only a gifted teacher, but he was also artistically talented, received recognition for his artistic pursuits throughout his life. While a college student, he was invited to present a one-man show in mixed media at the University of Oregon. Later in his life, he created a beautiful quilt out of men’s ties and used music and poetry to stimulate learning and just plain fun.

John’s influence as a professor and teacher has profoundly affected the practice of teachers, principals, and school superintendents who now serve, and those who will serve, regional and state schools. That is his legacy.