Posted: Oct. 19, 2006

Edward R. “Ned” Davis, 78, passed away peacefully at his Dover home Thursday, Oct. 18, after a long illness. Mr. Davis was born in the Sussex County town of Laurel on July 7, 1928, one of four children of Henry Clay Davis and his wife, the former Mary Eliza Carey. Both his parents were members of old, long-established Sussex County families. 

He was educated at Laurel High School, after which he served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1946 to 1947. Upon his discharge, he attended Gettysburg and Kenyon Colleges, majoring in English, philosophy, and journalism. 

Following his college years, he worked as a reporter for the East Liverpool, Ohio, Review, the Los Angeles Mirror, the Thompsonville, Conn., Press and the Springfield, Mass. Daily News. 

He later returned to Delaware as a columnist and reporter for the Delaware State News from 1956 to 1962, covering the General Assembly and state government. He was named the Dover Bureau chief and capital correspondent for the Wilmington News Journal in 1962, serving in that capacity for the next three years. 

In 1965, Mr. Davis was named press secretary and chief assistant to Governor Charles L. Terry Jr. Though he retained the title of press secretary by choice, he later became the governor’s chief of staff. 

Following the end of the Terry administration, Mr. Davis was named by his good friend, the late John W. Rollins, as vice president for corporate relations of Rollins International, later RLC Corporation, in which capacity he served from 1969 to 1974. 

Mr. Davis served from 1972 until 1988 as Delaware’s Democratic national committeeman and was an elder statesman among Delaware Democrats. He was the owner and manager of the Dover public relations and legislative services firm, Ned Davis Associates, which he founded in 1974. Among his earliest clients were two companies in which Mr. Rollins had a large interest, Brandywine Raceway and Dover Downs. 

A public-spirited citizen, Mr. Davis was also active as a board member and volunteer with such charitable organizations as the Delaware Heart Association, the Delaware Arthritis Association, and United Way. 

A gifted poet, writer and raconteur, Mr. Davis was the author of the 2000 work, Charles L. Terry, Governor of Delaware: 1965-1969, published as part of the Delaware Heritage Commission’s series of oral histories on past Delaware governors. Therein, he writes of his family’s warm personal friendship with Gov. Terry and Mrs. Terry, for whom he and his wife named their youngest daughter, Jessica. He recalled that he first met Terry in the late 1940s when, as a college student, he was hitchhiking back to Gettysburg College from his Laurel home. 

“Since hitchhiking rides was commonplace, I was not surprised when a distinguished looking man in a late-model car pulled over for me,” Mr. Davis wrote. “We had a very stimulating conversation in which he asked me about my boyhood in Laurel and about figures I knew, including [then Gov.] Carvel, and particularly about the local baseball team. His range of interests was remarkable and the conversation very enjoyable, though it passed very quickly. When he let me out he told me that his name was Judge Charles Terry and I was a bit amazed that an actual judge had deigned to pick up a hitchhiker.” 

Mr. Davis never lost his love for his native Sussex County, where he had learned to love hunting and fishing as a boy. Each autumn his family held a pig roast there along the banks of Broad Creek on a tract of land for which his father, a tombstone cutter and gentleman farmer, had traded several tombstones in the early 1900s. The annual Davis family picnics were widely attended, not only by Mr. Davis and his children, but by his many nieces and nephews, friends, acquaintances and loved ones. 

Mr. Davis was preceded in death by his wife, Ivyane D.F. Davis, who passed away in 1989, as well as by his brothers, Henry and Bill. Among his survivors are his sister, Eliza Davis of Wilmington, his six children, Victoria McAllister, Elizabeth Johnson, Deborah Lynn Carter (and her fiancé, Greg Newman), Robb Carter (and his wife, Donna), Mary Carey Davis and Jessica Terry Davis. Mr. Davis is also survived by six grandchildren, Bryan Reed, Alicia MacDonald, Douglas McAllister, Alexis Carter, Tiphani McEvoy and Ryan Davis, by two nephews, Judge Edward G. Davis and H. Clay Davis, Esq., and by several great nephews and great nieces, among other family members and loved ones. 

In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial contributions to the Ivyane D.F. Davis Memorial Scholarship, which is administered by the Delaware Child Placement Review Board. Checks should be made payable to the “Child Placement Review Board,” with a notation on the “memo” line of the check that the contribution is for the Davis Memorial Scholarship. Contributions may be sent to: Child Placement Review Board, Carvel State Office Building, 820 N. French St., Wilmington, Del. 19801. 

Friends may call from 6 to 8 p.m., Saturday evening, Oct. 20, at Torbert Funeral Chapel, 61 S. Bradford St., Dover. Funeral services will be held at 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 21, in the Rollins Center at Dover Downs.