By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun
11:48 AM EDT, April 29, 2013
Herbert A. Davis, a Baltimore real estate broker and decorated World War II veteran, died Monday of progressive supranuclear palsy at Keswick Multi-Care Center. He was 87.
"Herb was always very enthusiastic and just a great guy," said Dorothy F. "Patsy" Ross, who works in real estate sales for Chase Fitzgerald & Co.
"He was enthusiastic, positive and was always thinking on the bright side, and he really knew the business," said Mrs. Ross. "He was a great salesman."
Judy L. Bushong, a real estate agent, worked with Mr. Davis for 28 years.
"Herb was a gentleman who appreciated people's brains and the way they thought. He was genuinely interested in people, and you could see how he drew them out," said Ms. Bushong, who now works for Prudential Carruthers Realtors.
"And he never minded giving the benefit of his experience," she said. "Young agents would come to him with problems, and after talking with Herb left feeling they could take on the world."
Herbert Asbury Davis was born in Baltimore and raised on 40th Street in the Hampden-Roland Park area. His father was president of F.A. Davis & Sons, a tobacco and sundries distribution company, and his mother was a homemaker.
After graduating from Friends School in 1943, Mr. Davis enlisted in the Army and graduated that year from Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga.
He joined Gen. George S. Patton Jr.'s 3rd Army and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. He was one of only five survivors of a 196-member unit of the 26th Infantry Division. He later served with the 104th Infantry Division.
Mr. Davis was discharged in 1945. His decorations included the Bronze Star for gallantry and two Purple Hearts.
After earning a bachelor's degree in 1949 in history from Princeton University, he joined the family business, where he was a vice president and worked for a decade before he began selling insurance in 1959.
"It was then that he would find dozens of real estate leads that he would pass along to Philip W. Chase Jr., a family friend," according to a 1999 profile in The Daily Record.
In 1959, Mr. Davis and Mr. Chase formed the real estate firm of Chase and Davis Realtors, and eight years later, their firm merged with Dorothy L. Fitzgerald Co. and the Roland Park Co., which became Chase, Fitzgerald, Davis & Roland.
Mr. Davis served as vice president of Chase, Fitzgerald, Davis & Roland from 1967 until 1975, when he was named president.
He left the firm in 1979, when he established Herbert Davis Associates Inc. in the restored Rockland Mill on Falls Road in Brooklandville.
"I like the fact that there are no two transactions alike; every day is something new," Mr. Davis said in The Daily Record interview. "We're in the business of predicting human behavior. The better predictor you are, the more people will look to you for advice."
"Herb was truly the gentleman Realtor. He was well known and liked," said Carol D. Schmidt, vice president of Chase Fitzgerald & Co. who began her career working with Mr. Davis.
"He sold fine, high-end North Baltimore, Roland Park and Baltimore County properties," said Ms. Schmidt, who said Mr. Davis had a reputation for putting clients at ease. "He made them feel comfortable and looked out for them."
Mr. Davis' brother, John L. Davis, had been his partner before going into commercial real estate.
"The reason he was successful was because he was very smart. He got very close to the people he did business with, and he knew the market," said Mr. Davis, a Ruxton resident.
"He was also interested in what their needs were, and he worked hard to get them where they wanted to go," said Mr. Davis.
In addition to his work in real estates sales, Mr. Davis was also a licensed real estate mediator and had served as a member of the Maryland Association of Realtors' Mediation Oversight Committee.
"He was the ultimate mediator when it came to working with clients who were diametrically opposed to one another. He would spend so much time until it was completed," said Ms. Bushong.
In 1999, Mr. Davis was named Realtor of the Year by the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, where he had been a member of its board from 1976 to 1979 and was chairman from 1978 to 1980.
He also had served on the board of the Maryland Association of Realtors and National Association of Realtors.
In 2003, Mr. Davis merged his firm with Prudential Carruthers Realtors, where he continued working as an associate broker until retiring last year.
Mr. Davis lived at Woodhall Farms in Sparks for many years until moving in 1995 to a smaller farm in Upperco. Since last year, he had been living at Elkridge Estates in Roland Park.
Some of his many board memberships through the years included the Baltimore County Public Library, Planned Parenthood of Maryland, YMCA of Greater Baltimore, Roland Park Country School and the Transitional Living Council of Central Maryland.
Mr. Davis enjoyed wine and was a partner with several others who planted a vineyard in the 1970s at Woodhall Farm, where they established Woodhall Vineyards and Wine Cellars.
"They began commercially bottling and selling wine in 1982. Today, the vineyard, which was sold, is near Hereford," said his son, Bruce L. Davis of Hampden.
He was a longtime member of the Hamilton Street Club.
Mr. Davis was a member and former trustee of Bosley United Methodist Church, 14800 Thornton Mill Road, Sparks, where a memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. June 2.
In addition to his son and brother, Mr. Davis is survived by his wife of 63 years, the former Ruth Anne "Rufus" Emmart; three daughters, Paige H. Davis of Burnsville, N.C., Lynn E. Davis of Carrboro, N.C., and Sally C. Davis of Telluride, Colo.; another brother, H. Chace Davis of Cockeysville; a sister, Susanne D. Emory of Glen Arm; and five grandchildren. Another daughter, Carey F. Davis, died in 2005.
An earlier version of this obituary misstated the day of Mr. Davis' memorial service. The Sun regrets the error.
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