George Hearn “Smokey” Davis of Lexington died on Jan. 24 at the age of 79.
Born in Birmingham, Ala. on July 26, 1944, he was the elder child of Albert Lester and Virginia Davis. In 2008, he was predeceased by his wife of 42 years, Alecia Philpott Davis, also of Lexington.
Smokey attended Baylor School in Chattanooga before graduating from Shades Valley High School in 1962. He graduated from Auburn University in 1966. At Auburn he was elected as a Freshman Senator and member of the SAE fraternity. Most importantly, he met and married Alecia Philpott while they were students at Auburn. Upon graduation, Smokey enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. While stationed at Quantico, Va. he earned a Master’s degree from George Washington University.
After the Marine Corps, Smokey combined his commitment to public service, passion for education and professional aspirations to work for Junior Achievement in Langdale, Ala. With Junior Achievement, he was transferred to Columbia, S.C.. Subsequently, he enjoyed professional success at C&S Bank, Capital Lighting and Solomon Smith Barney, as a loyal and personally devoted stock broker, providing investment information to the community through his “Signals From Smokey” weekly column in the Lexington Dispatch News and Lexington Chronicle.
The hallmark of Smokey’s life was his thorough commitment and generous devotion to his community and those he loved. He and Alecia moved to Lexington in 1973 and fully immersed themselves in the growing community. He participated in a variety of clubs including Jaycees, Toastmasters, and as President of the Rotary Club of Lexington in 1992-1993. He was also active in the Art’s Association Follie’s performances and was awarded “Best Actor” in 1983.
The concept of humble servant leadership was the cornerstone of Smokey’s life. After losing his first election for the Lexington school board, he modeled resilience and statesmanship, going on to win the next election to the Lexington District 1 School Board, serving from 1978-1982. He served as a Commissioner of Midlands Technical College from 1992-1997. He was elected to Lexington County Council four times, serving from 1997-2013 (Vice Chair, 2001-2002 and Chairman 2003-2004). He served as President of the Lexington County Development Corporation from 2010-2021; the Central Midlands Council of Governments, 2013-2023 (chairing the Environmental Planning Advisory Committee, 2015-2017); the Midlands Workforce Development Corporation 2013-2019; the Central Midlands Development Corporation, 2014-2022; and the Lexington Medical Center Board 2016-2017.
Smokey’s faith directed all aspects of his life as he led various Bible studies and small groups at his church. He served as a Stephen Minister at Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church and was active at Northside Baptist Church. Most recently, he especially enjoyed serving as a frequent substitute teacher at Northside Christian Academy.
Smokey was tirelessly dedicated to his family and friends. He was a devoted caregiver to his wife Alecia through her lengthy journey with cancer. Together, they immersed themselves in their children and grandchildren, hosting “camps,” attending all their activities and concerts, and supporting their achievements and goals. He married Donna Lang on July 2, 2013 and added her family to his. Together, they adopted their sweet dog Gracie, adding a new chapter of love and friendship to his life.
Throughout his life Smokey always kept his hands busy, diving into a multitude of projects and crafts. Many homes are dotted with his creations of needlepoint, hooked rugs, macramé, models, and others too numerous to name. His family was sometimes overwhelmed by the bounty of projects and how to display them all. At any time, you could find Smokey out on Lake Murray and walking his dog, Gracie, always ready with a kind word and friendly greeting to his neighbors and was deeply curious about and interested in other people. He enjoyed extended time on Hilton Head Island and served on the board of the Harbour Town Yacht Club starting in 2020.
Smokey was purposeful in his efforts to see the best in people and serve as a positive mentor and encourager. He had a way of making everyone in his orbit feel known and loved. A devoted correspondent, he wrote to his children and grandchildren regularly and shared kernels of his hard earned wisdom. He had “You Deserve a Gold Star” coins minted and gave them to people whom he felt deserved or needed recognition — and he made sure to tell them why he was giving them a gold star and how special they were to him. He was constantly looking for the very best in people and trying to help them achieve their goals. He displayed the unique gift of connecting with all sorts of people across generations. His idea of a healthy community was one full of the good that he so purposefully sought to nurture in each individual.
Smokey is survived by his children Carrie (Michael) Cousar and Diane (Joe) Thomas and seven grandchildren: Davis Cousar, Anne Douglas (Daniel) Tincopa, Caroline Cousar, Ella Cate Cousar, Hannah Thomas, Will Thomas and Sam Thomas. His sister, Vicki Johnson (Sonny) of Birmingham, Ala. and her son, Mark Johnson.
He is also survived by his wife of 10 years, Donna, her children Nelson and Jessica Lang, her grandchildren Walker and Kyleigh Lang, as well as Donna’s step-daughter Angela Lang Lawrence, her grandchildren Peyton Lawrence (Scott) Bowers, Harrison Lawrence and LauraLeigh Lawrence and her great grandson Cooper Bowers. He will be missed by a large and cherished collection of extended and adopted family.
Smokey will be buried at Woodridge Cemetery beside his wife, Alecia. A celebration of his life will be held at Northside Baptist Church, 4347 Sunset Blvd., Lexington, SC 29072 on Monday, Jan. 29 at 4 p.m., followed by an ice cream social.
In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to a scholarship being created in his honor for a student of Northside Academy.
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