Ex-Rep. Davis of Michigan Dies at 77

Posted October 16, 2009 at 4:57pm

Correction Appended

Former Michigan Rep. Bob Davis (R), known for his work on behalf of issues important to the Upper Peninsula, died early Friday morning after his heart and kidneys failed. He was 77.

[IMGCAP(1)]Davis started his career in public service in 1964 when he served on the St. Ignace City Council. He was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1966. He climbed the political ladder deliberately, getting a promotion to the state Senate in 1970 and later leading that chamber’s Republicans from 1974 to 1978.

In 1978 Davis was elected to the House from the UP, becoming the latest in a long line of Republicans representing the region. He racked up seniority in the House over seven terms, taking a particular interest in issues related to the Great Lakes and to military bases in his district. He became influential on the Armed Services Committee and served as ranking member on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, a post important to his district, which laid along what he called “America’s fourth coast.— Among his proudest accomplishments in the House were establishing the first national marine sanctuary on the Great Lakes near Alpena and creating the Keweenaw National Historical Park.

Davis was ultimately implicated in the House Bank scandal, in which hundreds of Members overdrew from their House Bank accounts. The 1994 Almanac of American Politics noted that “he had 878 overdrafts on the House bank, totalling some $350,000, and his attempts to explain them fell flat.— In the face of the controversy and redistricting, he chose in May 1992 not to run for re-election. Rep. Bart Stupak (D) currently represents much of the area Davis represented.

Most recently Davis worked as a lobbyist specializing in Department of Defense procurement at K&L Gates. He lived in Arlington, Va., and traveled back to Gaylord, Mich., regularly.

Davis was born in Marquette, Mich., on July 31, 1932. He attended Northern Michigan University and Hillsdale College but ultimately graduated from Wayne State University in 1954. He owned and operated a funeral home with his father in St. Ignace, where the post office is now named after him. Stupak introduced the legislation to rename the post office in 2002.

“A member of House Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, former Rep. Bob Davis worked hard to promote funding for the Coast Guard and to assist local businesses to secure federal contracts,— Stupak said on the House floor. “He was an ideal Representative, always looking after the needs of his constituents.—

Davis’ survivors include his wife, Brook, and five children. Memorial contributions can be made to the Bob Davis Fund at Northern Michigan University. A funeral will be held at 4:30 p.m. today at Grace Episcopal Church (3601 Russell Road) in Alexandria, Va., followed by a reception.

Correction: Oct. 19, 2009

The story incorrectly stated that Davis resigned his House seat. He served to the end of his term and did not run for re-election.