Coping with Grief
We would like to offer our sincere support to anyone coping with grief. Enter your email below for our complimentary daily grief messages. Messages run for up to one year and you can stop at any time. Your email will not be used for any other purpose.
Barbara Jean Davis died January 19, 2024 at Givens Highland Farms in Black Mountain, North Carolina. She was 95. She was born April 2, 1928 in Orlando, Florida, the daughter of Fannie Mae and Charlton Crawford Morgan. She joined older brother Charlton in their Orlando home, where she lived until college.
Barbara Jean graduated with a B.S. in Social Studies from Florida State University, where she held leadership positions in a number of campus organizations, with extensive involvement in FSU Student Government. She also had leadership roles in Garnet Key and Mortar Board, all of which prepared her for a life of impact.
Following college, she attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where she received a Master of Religious Education. In the 1950s, female enrollment in seminaries was unusual, however Barbara Jean felt the clear call of God to pursue this higher learning opportunity. While there, she met Cornelius Davis, and they were married June 20, 1952, in Orlando. Barbara Jean and Cornelius were married for 70 years, until his death in 2022.
While Cornelius was completing his seminary degree in Louisville, Barbara Jean taught high school History. Following his graduation, she began a lengthy and significant calling as a Pastor’s wife. Cornelius and Barbara Jean served churches in Canaan, Indiana; Cumberland, Maryland; and then Florida churches in Live Oak, Lakeland, Jacksonville, and Wauchula. After retiring from full-time pastoral ministry in 1994, Cornelius and Barbara Jean split time between Jacksonville and their home in Gerton, North Carolina. They moved to Black Mountain as their permanent home in 2014.
Barbara Jean’s nine-plus decades on this earth had deep meaning in the lives of countless souls, as she beautifully and enthusiastically embraced serving people in the churches and communities where she lived. Her consequential roles included being a teacher, mentor, writer, speaker, tutor, volunteer, and, of course, a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother (Gran!), and friend.
Any investment in peoples’ lives was a passion for Barbara Jean. For instance, in addition to the many responsibilities of being a Pastor’s wife, she taught English as a second language at a church’s Spanish ministry, served as a hospital volunteer, taught Sunday School, and was an academic tutor for students. Following Cornelius’ retirement, they were faithful volunteers at The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, in Asheville, for more than 20 years.
Barbara Jean was always up for an adventure with Cornelius, and with her children and grandchildren. She enjoyed hiking and camping, and would be the first to hop on a scooter, swing from a tree branch, speed down a zipline, ride her son’s motorcycle, and she even went snow skiing in her 60s. She also loved to play tennis and golf, travel, cook (especially hosting others), garden, make candy, and she assisted Cornelius in his woodworking projects. Even with all the activity, she prioritized being involved in the lives of her children and grandchildren, especially in their many sporting activities, theatre, and musical performances.
As she lived her full life, she was indelibly marked by her attentive presence with whoever was before her at the time. She connected with people by being a good listener, truly caring inquisitively about what they had to say. Barbara Jean was also marked by her ability to encourage others, and make them feel important, and loved.
Her genuine contentedness was especially evident in her later months and days, as she continued to make anyone in her presence feel better, by an encouraging word, or even just by offering her smile. Even then, she was happy and pleasant and still looking ahead to the next thing. Barbara Jean’s resilience was clearly evident throughout her life, yet was best expressed in a comment she made when asked of what she was most proud about herself – “When I fall down, I get back up!” What a legacy she leaves with all who were blessed to know and love her.
Barbara Jean was predeceased by her parents, brother, and Cornelius; she is survived by her daughters, Chris Elam, and her husband Jim, of Port St. Lucie, Florida; Mae Beth Ragland, and her husband Chuck, of Jacksonville, Florida; her sons, David Davis, and his wife Tammy, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida; and Dan Davis, and his wife Karen, of Black Mountain. She is survived by eleven grandchildren, Morgan Sargeant (Harry), Matthew Ragland (Morgan), Neil Ragland (Casey), Josh Elam (Lindsay), Laura Campbell, Jeremy Davis (Diana), Mark Ragland (Carolyn), Melissa Kirker (Ralph), Sarah Kimmey (Jordan), Micah Davis, and Josie Davis. She is also survived by eleven great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, February 18, 2024 at 2:00 p.m. in the Chapel at Givens Highland Farms, in Black Mountain. Memorial gifts may be provided to the Givens Highland Farms Staff Assistance Fund, which supports the emergency needs of employees who have cared for Barbara Jean and Cornelius, and many others. Checks may be made payable to Givens Highland Farms (with a Staff Assistance Fund notation), and mailed to 200 Tabernacle Road, Black Mountain, North Carolina, 28711.