By Barney Blakeney
A man alone – since 1991 Dorchester County Councilman Willie Davis filled the role as the council’s only African American and Democrat. It was a role he filled quietly and competently. Last week he died surrounded by family. He was 68.
Davis, a St. George native, was a quiet storm and a discerning negotiator. Summerville Town Councilman Aaron Brown described him as a caring person and great family man – qualities that sustained Davis over nearly three decades as he worked to keep the predominantly Black and rural communities of upper Dorchester County competitive with its more urbane and rapidly growing neighbors to the south in Summerville.
Davis’ political style was in stark contrast to his predecessor on the council, the late Rollins Edwards, Dorchester County’s first African American representative – a soft-spoken, but steadfast and unpretentious advocate for Blacks in Dorchester County. An educator and public schools administrator in adjacent Colleton County, Davis applied skills used to teach and supervise to the task of insuring upper Dorchester County residents were served. In a changing economy he made sure his constituents weren’t left out, Brown said.
“He will be missed,” said Angie Crum founder and Executive Director of the Ridgeville Community Resource Center. Dorchester County Democratic Party Chair Sean Wilson said, “Councilman Davis was a giant in Dorchester County and the State of South Carolina. He fought for better opportunities and equal rights.” Sixth Dist. Cong. James Clyburn said, “I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my good friend, Councilman Willie Davis. He served the citizens of Dorchester County with honor and distinction for 27 years.”
Davis earned a bachelor’s degree from Claflin University and a master’s in counseling from South Carolina State University. He worked in Colleton County schools as a teacher and administrator for 36 years. During his tenure on Dorchester County Council, he served as Vice Chairman and served on the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency, Dorchester Seniors Inc., St. George NAACP, the Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Rural Transportation Management Association and the Rosenwald School Board of Directors.
Davis is survived by his wife and children. A wake service will be held Friday from 6pm to 8pm at St. Mark UM Church, 1201 St. Mark Bowman Road, St. George. The funeral service will be held August 4, 2018, at 12 p.m. at Lovely Hill Baptist Center, 5905 West Jim Bilton Boulevard, St. George, S.C.