Longtime Hartford Educator Vernal Davis Dies At 74
By JODIE MOZDZER | The Hartford Courant
January 30, 2009
Vernal Paul Davis, a longtime educator in Hartford who devoted his life to helping children, died Sunday. He was 74.
Davis graduated from Weaver High School in 1953 and came back to Hartford after college to teach and coach in the public schools. He served as principal of the John C. Clark elementary school for 27 years until his retirement in 1992. Throughout his life, Davis volunteered for several civic organizations, including the Interracial Scholarship Fund committee, the American Legion Post 142 [he was a U.S. Army veteran] and the Urban League of Greater Hartford.
But in each aspect of his life, Davis seemed to find a way to help children, his son, Randal P. Davis, said.
"He was always making sure that kids were involved, making sure they contemplated their future," Randal Davis said.
It was that impact on students and children that several friends also remembered, along with Davis' quiet and humble demeanor.
Davis had the power to calm a student with the touch of his hand, recalled family friend Sharon Patterson-Stallings, whose grandchildren and children went to Hartford schools under Davis.
Davis volunteered for the city's recreation department, worked on scholarship committees and served as a role model to the young men at his church, Shiloh Baptist Church in Hartford.
Pastor Charles Turner said Davis always tried to get youths involved in church activities. The Davis family has asked that donations be made to the youth ministry at Shiloh in memory of his care for children.
"He was extremely involved in damn near everything," said Charlie Senteio, a retired assistant superintendent and principal in Hartford. "He was not one for idle time."
Five civic organizations will honor Davis today at 5 p.m. at the Shiloh Baptist Church on Albany Avenue. A second service and the burial will be Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m.
Besides his son, Davis is survived by his wife, Alice, a daughter, Shelley Marie Davis, and three grandchildren, as well as extended family.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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