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Gregg P Davis 1926-2024

Friends and family are feeling the loss of a cherished loved one, mentor, patriot, storyteller and occasional mischief-maker with the passing of Gregg P Davis who died Thursday, February 22, 2024.

Gregg P Davis
Gregg P Davis

He was 98. Gregg was born in Altoona, PA, to Newton and Virginia Clarkson Davis, on January 20, 1926.

Raised in Depression-era Altoona, PA, Gregg was drafted into the U.S. Army right after high school and was attached to the 89th Infantry Division, the unit known as The Rolling W. He served as a mortarman in the European Theater of WWII which became a defining period in his life. As a wounded and decorated veteran, he was deeply connected to his military service and to his country, yet quick to deflect any remarks that referred to him as a hero.

While still stateside, Gregg returned to Altoona on leave to marry his high school sweetheart Mary Jane Kagarise in January, 1945. They celebrated 73 years together before her passing in 2018. After a combat injury nearly cost him his arm, he spent 13 months recovering in an Army hospital before returning to Altoona.

As a young veteran with a small family, he earned his teaching degree in 1949 from Shippensburg State Teachers College (now Shippensburg University) which led him to a history department position that same year in the Mercersburg Area School System (now known as Tuscarora Area School District). More than 5,000 students graduated during his 37-year career. Many of them passed through his classroom or homeroom, but he took pride in knowing nearly all of them from the field of commencement where he annually directed services. He retired in 1986 and always held firm to his commitment: “I’m not here to teach history. I’m here to teach students to think.”

At age 90, Gregg published his life story. As a testament to the impact their beloved teacher had made on their lives, dozens of former students lined up at every special author event to reconnect and thank him for his influence, some of them returning 50 years after their graduation.

Gregg was also well known as an avid outdoorsman, a passion he developed as a boy who helped provide food during the Depression. He looked forward to his time in the woods and enjoyed hunting and fishing with his son Jim, as well as his son-in-laws, grandsons and great grandsons well into his nineties. Those outings were another great source of material for the grand storyteller that was Gregg Davis.

Above all, he was proud of his family. He and Mary Jane raised a family of five which included Judy Layton of Mercersburg (married to Donald Layton); James Davis of Imler (married to Marla Davis); Jean Calimer of Ft. Loudon (married to Ronald Calimer); and Joan Nelling of Hagerstown, MD (married to Timothy Nelling).

The tight knit family grew into 10 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren. To their delight, the house and yard would overflow when everyone gathered at their home for Sunday dinners and holiday celebrations.

He is also survived by brother, Richard Davis (married to Marty Davis) of Corning NY, and sister in laws, Helen Davis of State College , and Nellie Hainley of Bedford, Pa. Gregg is also survived by a number of nieces and nephews.

In addition to the loss of Mary Jane in 2018, Gregg was preceded in death by infant son Gregg Dwayne in 1948, as well as a sister, Louise Shannon Smeigh (husband Harold), brothers, Newton Davis {wife Ida) and Robert Davis, brother in law George R Hainley, and his youngest sister, Virginia Johnson Thorpe.

Services will be held at Fries Funeral Home, located at 47 N. Park Avenue, Mercersburg, PA 17236. Viewing is Thursday, February 29th, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Services will be held Friday, March 1st, at 11 a.m. with viewing one hour prior to the service.

Messages of condolence can be sent to the family at P.O. Box 173, Fort Loudon, PA 17224.

Burial will be at Fairview Cemetery, Mercersburg, with full military honors. A memorial plaque honoring Gregg will also be placed in Arlington National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to the James Buchanan High School history department by way of Orrstown Bank, in care of Gregg Davis Memorial Fund, 12 S. Main Street, Mercersburg, PA 17236.

To send flowers to the family of Gregg P. Davis, please visit the Heartfelt Sympathies Store.


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Comments

Pamela K Coyle 1949-2024

Pam received her Master’s degree in library science from Clarion University in 1978. She never lost her love of reading or her enthusiasm for libraries.

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Candie worked in the Prothonotary’s office at the Fulton County Courthouse, and later at Irving Accounting and U.S.A. Cartage in Williamsport, MD.

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