FARNHAM—Lawrence Harlan Davis, PhD, 87, of Farnham passed peacefully on Sunday, January 29, 2023.
He was born on February 17, 1935, to the late Lawrence Hall Davis and Leona Virginia Packett of Richmond County. He was truly a son of the Northern Neck of Virginia, his family roots going back to the beginnings of our country.
Harlan earned a BS from Virginia Tech in 1956, an MS from the University of Maryland in 1959 and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin in 1968.
Harlan was named a foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department by President Ronald Reagan and served our country for over 30 years. He lived in six countries in Latin America, mastering fluency in both Spanish and Portuguese.
Harlan received many awards and recognitions over the years, notably from President Jimmy Carter and the President of Panama in 1985.
Harlan’s successful career was complemented by the genuine friendships he developed throughout the U.S. and Latin America, including Nobel Laureate Oscar Arias, President of Costa Rica.
Harlan also completed a distinguished academic career and taught at the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and the Federal University of Bahia in Brazil (through the Rockefeller Foundation). He served as the associate vice president of the University of Georgia from 1992-1999. Harlan delivered keynote addresses to several organizations over the years and was a published author in his expertise as a Latin American Specialist and rural agronomist. He was inducted into the Honor Society for International Scholars, Phi Beta Delta in 1993.
In his free time, he enjoyed sailing, flying, playing tennis and pickleball, and “instructing” his beloved retrievers over the years, “Rosie, Gypsy and Ginny.” Harlan was deeply devoted to his native land, the Northern Neck of Virginia, and gave tirelessly to several community and faith-based organizations. Harlan and Jean have lived on their farm near Simonson for the last 22 years.
Harlan never met a stranger and strived to share faith, joy and the love of life to all people he met; as one of his pastor’s commended, “he cast a long shadow of love.” He enjoyed genuine friendships with people from all walks of life around the world. His international colleagues called him “hermano” (brother in Spanish). He was devoted to his family and continually encouraged his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to rise to their best in all ways; academically, socially, in their faith, and in relations with friends and community.
Harlan is survived by his loving and beloved wife of 64 years, Jean Witt Davis; son, L.H. “Dan” Davis Jr. of Newnan, Georgia; daughters, Cristina D. Hamman (George) of Newnan, Georgia, and Leigh D. Purcell (Jim) of Weems; sister, Joanna D. Williamson (Fred) of Venice, Florida; eight grandchildren, Bo, Chris, Palmer, Ana, Emma, Mia, Elizabeth and Elise; and four great-grandchildren: Ava, Charlotte, Harlan, Perry, with another great on the way!
Harlan is preceded in death by his parents and brother, James Ervin Davis. A private family graveside service was held for Harlan at Totuskey Baptist Church. The family will host a Celebration of Life service at 2 p.m. Friday, April 28, at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Kilmarnock.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations in his honor to be made to the Packett-Davis Scholarship administered by The EverBless Foundation at 2828 Emerywood Parkway Richmond, VA 23294 (672-8862). To God be the Glory for the life of Lawrence Harlan Davis.