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Wednesday, March 22, 1995 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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George L. Davis Jr. Had An Eye For Art, And A Head For Business

It was the lavender horse the family photographer remembers. That and the matching tuxes and oversized eyeglasses George L. Davis Jr. and his wife, Mary, wore to social events.

"They had a beautiful home on the water in Gig Harbor. They had trained as architects," said Jim Reuter Jr. "They had a large, unorthodox modern-art collection, as well.

"But the first time I drove up the drive and saw a life-sized, lavender, fiberglass horse in the pasture, I just couldn't get over it."

Mr. Davis, 71, who died of a brain tumor Monday at his Sun Valley vacation home, was known not only for his humor and his artist's eye, but for his caring for individuals and the larger community.

"He was a good businessman, and serious when he needed to be," said Dick Bangert, who was chairman of First Interstate Bank when Mr. Davis was on the board of directors. "But he also was a lot of fun."

Alice Rooney, former director of Pilchuck Glass School, noted Mr. Davis' work on the board of the American Craft Council, and at Pilchuck. "Artists of the Northwest will miss him; he was so supportive," she said.

His friend Phyllis Yes said Mr. Davis' generosity of spirit manifested itself as a gentlemanly manner. She said he served on boards of banks and businesses such as Stewart Title Insurance and Brady Hardwoods, and also of educational institutions such as Annie Wright School, Pacific Lutheran University and Charles Wright Academy.

"He got so much done for the community because he worked for a purpose higher than himself," said Yes. "He had a lot of foresight for future generations, not just for the here and now, not just for himself and his family."

She praised his chairmanship of Lakewold Gardens, for which he helped establish an endowment fund.

Born in Tacoma, Mr. Davis earned his architecture degree, and met his future wife, at the University of Washington.

He managed the family-owned Tacoma Millwork Supply Co. for several years, seeing it transformed into a cabinetry firm that pioneered the use of computers to design and build products.

Gail Stickney of Sun Valley said her father felt strongly about leading by example, whether raising a family or doing business. She also remembers his writing long letters to her on sensitive issues when he wasn't comfortable speaking directly with her.

He was as fastidious at home as he was in business and the arts: He was the one who kept the house spotless, washed the dishes and vacuumed dog hair from his beloved mastiffs.

"He loved animals," said his daughter. "Except horses. He and my mother went riding on their honeymoon, and his horse lay down with him. He hated them ever since."

She said that when her mother wanted a horse, he bought a fake one - the kind sometimes found outside tack stores - and had it shipped to her in a box. "She painted it lavender and stuck it in the pasture, looking over the fence," she said.

Other survivors include his wife; daughter Katharine Granum, Southworth, Kitsap County; sister Virginia Johnson, Seattle; and three grandchildren.

A memorial gathering will be held later. Remembrances may be made to Lakewold Gardens, P.O. Box 98092, Tacoma WA, 98498.

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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