Dr. Billy D. Davis, a retired dentist who cared for his West Baltimore patients for more than 50 years, died Nov. 5 from a heart attack at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The Bare Hills resident was 87.
“Billy had one of the predominate black dental practices in the city. He was an excellent dentist and a wonderful person, and that’s not an exaggeration whatsoever,” said Dr. Donald G. Parker, a Park Heights Avenue dentist.
“When I got out of dental school, he gave me my first job. He was my mentor,” said Dr. Parker, a Mount Washington resident.
“He was very good to dental students at Howard and the University of Maryland,” he said. “And we also worked together at the Sinai Dental Clinic at North and Pennsylvania avenues.”
Billy Devone Davis, the son of Willard Davis, chief chef at what is now East Carolina University, and his wife, Georgia Lee Dawson Davis, a homemaker, was born and raised in Greenville, N.C., the youngest of four children
After graduating from C.M. Eppes High School in 1949, he began his college studies at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., where he studied chemistry and mathematics.
“Education and family were always a priority with Billy. As a sixth-grader, ‘Santa Claus’ brought him a bicycle for Christmas,” Dr. Davis wrote in an autobiographical sketch of his life. “I began delivering papers by that January, and rising at 5 a..m. before going to school.” He also said that he often assisted his father at the college.
During his freshman year at Hampton, he married his childhood sweetheart, the former Barbara Lou Morris, who was a senior at C.M. Eppes High School.
In 1950, Dr. Davis transferred to what is now St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, N.C., where he played basketball, and received his bachelor’s degree in 1953.
Dr. Davis initially entered Howard University to study organic chemistry for a master’s degree, but in 1954 enrolled in its school of dentistry, from which he graduated in 1958.
He joined Chi Delta Mu Fraternity his second year at Howard, and had been a member for more than 65 years of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
Commissioned a lieutenant in the Navy, he served in Evanston, Ill., for four years until being discharged in 1962.
In 1960, he completed Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry, and after leaving the Navy, moved to Baltimore where he established a general dentistry practice in the 4200 block of Edmondson Ave., and where he remained until retiring in 2012.
“His patients very much liked him, and when he retired several years ago, I received a lot of his former patients,” Dr. Parker said. “I was his dentist and saw him several days before he died.”
Dr. Parker said his friend was also known for his forthrightness.
“He always told you the right thing, and not just about dentistry, it was about everything,” he said. “And if you needed help, you could always go to Billy.”
In addition to playing golf, Dr. Davis was an inveterate boater. He was an active member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, where he taught training classes in boating.
Dr. Davis also owned personal boats through the years, the Candi-Bar, which were named for his wife and daughter, and used them to assist the Coast Guard in patrols.
He was a member of the Dolphin Cruising Club and the Neptune Yacht Club, both in Baltimore.
It wasn’t uncommon for Dr. Davis to sail his boat from Baltimore to Ocean City, family members said, or go off-shore fishing some 50 to 70 miles in the Atlantic.
“No, I never went on his boat because I’m not a swimmer,” Dr. Parker said, with a laugh. “I told Billy the only way I was going to get on that boat was if it was sitting in a parking lot.”
He maintained a second home in Ocean Pine, where he enjoyed spending summers.
Dr. Davis was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity for more than 55 years, serving as senior warden and vestry member.
His wife died in 2012.
Services were held Nov. 10 at his church.
He is survived by his son, Mark Brandon Davis of Severn; a daughter, Candace Laurel Davis Hawkins of Owings Mills; a sister, Marian Davis-Foster of Baltimore; and several nieces and nephews.