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John H. Davis Jr., retired newspaper advertising executive, dies

John Howard Davis Jr., a retired News American advertising executive and World War II veteran, died at his Towson home on May 11 from pneumonia. He was 93.

He was born in Baltimore and raised on Fulton Avenue, the son of John H. Davis Sr., a Baltimore Transit Co. streetcar motorman, and Mary Marguerita Davis, a homemaker.

He attended Baltimore Polytechnic Institute for three years before withdrawing in 1943 to enlist in the Army. He was trained at Scott Field in Madison, Wis., and at the University of Florida in Gainesville as a “high-speed radio operator,” according to his son, John H. Davis III of Red Lion, Pa.

He served with the 147th Army Airways Communication System attached to the 13th Army Air Force, stationed in the Pacific Theater. He was discharged in 1946 with the rank of corporal.

While he was serving, his father and a friend, also a Baltimore Transit motorman, urged his friend’s daughter, Mary Helen Wineke, to write to his son.

“After his discharge, he met the love of his life for the first time in person,” his son said. They eloped in 1947.

Mr. Davis obtained a General Education Diploma, but it wasn’t until 2002 that he received his formal high school diploma during a special ceremony at Poly that honored students who left school to serve during World War II.

After working in retail advertiising with several Baltimore ad agencies, he joined The Baltimore Sun’s advertising department in 1955. Then, in 1961, he left to work in a similar capacity for the News American, where he rose to asssitant advertising director.

He retired in 1986 when the News American ceased publication.

He received a private pilot’s license and enjoyed flying his Piper Colt. He also liked golfing, and in his younger days enjoyed racing stock cars at the old Westport Stadium and Ritchie Raceway. He was a member of the Maryland Timing Association, an auto racing group.

The 68-year Towson resident was a communicant of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson, where a Mass of Christian burial was held Thursday.

He is survived by his wife of 71 years, his son, and daughter Mary Kathleen Piccirilli of Marriottsville; six grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. Another son, Neal Patrick Davis, died in 2015.

--Frederick N. Rasmussen

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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