Obituary of Mary Allen Davis
Mary Allen Davis
Mary was born on Sept 28, 1918 in Orlando, the oldest child of Edmund Henry Allen and Charlotte Gutteridge Allen. She grew up in Orlando when it was a small town of around 10,000. She graduated from Orlando High School and entered Florida State College for Women in 1936. At that time Mary’s father owned a lovely jewelry shop on Orange Avenue, but during the depression few people bought fine jewelry. Her father sold a small grove to pay her tuition, and her mother remade some of her dad’s suits into skirts and jackets for college.
Mary pledged Pi Beta Phi and was president of the sorority’s chapter in her senior year. Her younger sister, Anne, was also president when she attended Florida State; they were the only sisters to achieve this honor. In 1940 Mary graduated with a BS degree in Economics.
The Davis family also lived in Orlando. While Hal attended the Citadel, Mary often joined him in Charleston for dances, parties, and college activities. After graduation Hal joined the Army Air Corps and was stationed in Texas and Arizona. In 1940 he was able to get a leave, and they were married with 10 days’ notice!
Hal then transferred to Mather Field in Sacramento where he was a flight instructor. Hal and Mary moved to Haines City in 1949 when they bought an insurance agency from one of Mary’s uncles. Hal was called back to assignment at the Pentagon during the Korean War, and they moved to Arlington with three small children. When Bruce did not begin to use words, Mary realized that Donna had been interpreting his baby talk; he didn’t even have to try!
Housing was in short supply in the years after WWII. Mary and Hal lived in Felton and Thelma Bacon’s “garage department” as Dale called it. Then they moved to the neighborhood “Sunset” on 14th Street. Within a few blocks there were over 60 children from infants to high school age during the 50’s and 60’s.
The children rode bikes, roller skated , played softball, climbed into the Davis treehouse, and played make-believe with a sheet thrown over the dining room table. It was indeed a special childhood. Mary drove the children to Winter Haven for piano lessons and Donna’s ballet lessons.
Mary and Hal were active in the community, and these were fun years with wonderful friends. They were part of the Greatest Generation who helped build small towns like Haines City. She was active in the Women’s Club which raised funds to build a facility for private and public functions. It is now a church at the corner of Ledwith and 6th Streets.
Mary began substitute teaching when the children reached high school age. In 1964 Dan Jenkins asked her to organize the first Head Start kindergarten in Haines City in the former Evans Market on Highway 17. She agreed and attained an MA in Elementary Education from Rollins College in 1973. After a few years Mary helped develop the Title 1 program for the Polk County School Board and trained kindergarten teachers with materials to enhance early childhood education.
In 1965 Mary helped institute the Hospital Auxiliary at Heart of Florida Hospital and served as its first president. She served as president two other times that included the busy years when the “new” hospital was built on Hwy 27 near Davenport. She joked that the auxiliary was her “part time job!” She felt that service was repayment for the life she had.
In July 1993 she was chosen by the Lakeland Ledger as “a person who makes a difference in the community” for her volunteer work. Mary and her great friend, Jean Pratt, were chosen Pioneers of the Year in 2000 and rode a 1956 convertible in the Christmas parade wearing their “pink lady’ uniforms. Mary traveled with her family and friends at different times to Cuba, Hawaii, Mexico, England. France. Germany, Austria, Russia, and the Netherlands where she and Hal met and visited her childhood pen-pal. She also traveled to Ireland with a group from Heart of Florida Hospital to visit retired hospital administrator, Mary Erde, at her inn.
Mary was a member of St Marks Episcopal Church and its chapter of Episcopal Church Women. She was also a member of Lake Region Yacht and Country Club, Sandspur Garden Club, Wednesday Book Club, and served as secretary of Heart of Florida Hospital Board for many years.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Hal, who died in 1986, her brother, Edmund Allen, Jr, and her brother-in-law, John Cronin. After Hal’s passing Mary built a home at Southern Dunes Country Club and enjoyed living there for many years.
She is survived by her daughter, Dr. Dale Davis, her daughter, Donna Markuson and son-in-law, Jerry Markuson, son, Bruce Davis and daughter-in-law, Susan; three grandsons – Ben Markuson, Andrew Markuson, and Mitchell Davis; her sister, Anne Cronin of Pennsylvania, and her longtime friend and caregiver, Kate Pickett. She is also survived by nieces and nephews Wynn Davis, Susan Davis Reever, Anita Davis Turner, Jay Davis, Will Davis, Bill Cronin, Jeannie Cronin Fleck, Bob Cronin, Linda Allen, Don Allen, and Laura Allen.
The family is grateful to the staff of The Club of Haines City (formerly Savannah Court), and the staff from Vitas of Haines City, especially Michelle, for their respectful and compassionate care the past few years.
A Celebration of Mary’s Life will be held Thursday, April 20, 2023. The family will greet guests at 2:30 p.m., the service will begin at 3:00 p.m., with a reception to follow at Oak Ridge Funeral Care, Haines City.
Memorial gifts can be sent to THE HEART OF FLORIDA EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION, c/o Sara Cliett, Campbell C.P.A.’s 201 Avenue C, S.W. Winter Haven, FL 33880 or INNER WHEEL USA FOUNDATION, P.O. Box 3414 Haines City, FL 33844-3414.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mary Davis, please visit Tribute Store
Gathering of Family & Friends
Celebration of Life