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Davis, dedicated to Greer's heritage, dies

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

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Gerald Davis, behind the wheel, drove the 1941 Chevy Southern Pumper Fire Truck, to pick up toys from the Syl Syl Toy Drive at the Clock restaurant.
 

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Gerald Davis, behind the wheel, drove the 1941 Chevy Southern Pumper Fire Truck, to pick up toys from the Syl Syl Toy Drive at the Clock restaurant.

 



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Retired Greer Fire Chief Chris Harvey and Gerald Davis.
 

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Retired Greer Fire Chief Chris Harvey and Gerald Davis.

 



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Gerald Davis explains some of the gauges and instruments to children.
 

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Gerald Davis explains some of the gauges and instruments to children.

 



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Gerald Davis, not pictured, helped assemble and polish the fire truck to its vintage appearance.
 

File Photo

Gerald Davis, not pictured, helped assemble and polish the fire truck to its vintage appearance.

 



Gerald Davis loved fire trucks, preserving the city of Greer’s history, photographing people and nature. His dry sense of humor captivated those around him.

“I would call Gerald a renaissance man,” said Joada Hiatt. “He was dedicated to a lot of things.”

“He has meant a lot to Greer and to me presenting and preserving our history. People, a hundred years from now, will be able to look back and see what Greer was like in the 1990s and 2000s because of Gerald’s contributions.”

Davis played the organ at Fairview Baptist Church and had one at home that was used to add music to historic videos of pictures and stories scripted by Hiatt.

Davis has the key to city presented to him by Mayor Rick Danner, although Davis didn’t need it. He was welcomed everywhere.

Davis, a native of Greer, retired employee of J.P. Stevens and the Greer City Fire Department as a volunteer, died Wednesday at his home. He was 73. Read obituary here.

A 1941 Chevy Southern Pumper Fire Truck used in Greer and donated back to the city in 2012 by Allen Cullum, years after he bought it and transported it to Dallas, truly was Davis’s pride and joy. “It probably helped keep (Gerald) alive the past couple of years,” Carl Howell, Greer Deputy Fire Marshal, said.

“I don’t know if that fire truck would still have been finished if Gerald had not helped,” Howell said. “He would enjoy working on it, strip off the old finish and polish the chrome. He contributed parts and loved working on it.”

It was when Davis retired when he and Hiatt began a partnership in restoring old pictures, creating videos and researching photos depicting Greer’s heritage. “I ran into Gerald and said, ‘you’re retired and I’m retired, so why don’t we work together on the preservation of Greer’s past,’” Hiatt said.

Davis already had logged thousands of photos he had taken of Greer through the years including the building of the new Greer City Hall. “Gerald would be flown over Greer every couple of weeks and take photos of the new (Greer Memorial) hospital and City Hall. It was always at his expense. He never charged,” Hiatt said.

Davis, while a volunteer fireman, also took photos that represent an era of firefighting.

“He was just amazing,” Hiatt said. “Gerald showed me his photographs and the pictures of beautiful hummingbirds he took. When I asked him why, he just said it was something he liked to do.”

Hiatt, a writer who specialized in the history of Greer and the Upstate, its people, heritage and architecture, remembered a video package assembled for the museum. “I wrote the script and Gerald, because he had the technology, put together the photos, narration, music and recorded it. He virtually did the entire production,” Hiatt said.

The videos are still used to illustrate Greer’s heritage. Community leaders voiced the narrative written by Hiatt. And in some, the organ background is that of Davis produced at his home.

Hiatt laughed at an assignment that she and Davis was producing for a magazine on Haygood Mill in Pickens. On the way, “Gerald said, ‘I want to show you something. Pull over at the church graveyard. He took me to two tombstones, side by side. They looked like they could be brothers because the years were so close together,” Hiatt said.

“He pointed to a pair of hands praying. On one tombstone were hands praying to heaven and the other showed a hand with the middle index finger pointing down,” Hiatt said. “We laughed and laughed and said we had to find out the story behind that.” They never did.

“I loved that about Gerald,” Hiatt said. “He had such a good, dry sense of humor.”

 

 

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