Saturday, March 4, 2023
2:00 PM EST
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Visitation from 1PM until the start of the service.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
PO Box 220
Hudsonville, MI 49426
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Life Story / Obituary
Loving and kind, John E. Davis lived a life devoted to serving others and the world. He was a man who embodied the principles he believed in, embracing each moment as a gift and every person as a friend. Whether enjoying quiet companionship with his beloved, sharing a meal at one of his favorite restaurants, indulging in chocolate chip cookies or ice cream, cheering on his loved ones’ endeavors, or sharing his ministry, John proved a powerful role model. He radiated joy, happiness, and compassion, listened wholeheartedly, and consciously nurtured a harmonious God-Nature-Human relationship. Cherished and revered by many, John will long be remembered and so very deeply missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1936 held much to celebrate. Jesse Owens dominated the Summer Olympics in Berlin, winning four gold medals, BBC First Public Television broadcasts began, and Gone With The Wind was first published. The rays of hope continued to shined steadily through the clouds of despair in America as unemployment decreased to 16%. Nowhere was there a greater sense of hope than in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as Everett John and Viola Mae (Hitsman) Davis as they welcomed their son John to their family on April 11.
Originally from Coopersville, John’s parents, 1548 Groton Rd SE, East Grand Rapids. His father was the manager of Richmond Brothers Men’s Clothing Store, and his mother was a homemaker and worked at Eastern Floral. John was very close with his sister Jane who was 14 years older and who took care of him a lot. Daily life centered around rich family traditions. Holidays were spent at home, and vacations were spent exploring Michigan. John often spoke of his summers at the cottage of his good friend, Bob Eleveld, and the time the Eleveld family took him along on a memorable trip out west. They also invited him to attend church at East Congregational, where he and Bob Eleveld sang in the choir. Once Jane married George, holidays grew to include their five children, Terry, Brett, Craig, Rick, and Marilyn. John’s mother would prepare dinner, and the entire family would have lots of fun together.
John attended Breton Downs Elementary in East Grand Rapids and, at the age of eight, developed a severe stutter. Fortunately, he loved and excelled at all sports. A natural athlete, he eventually played pitcher on his high school baseball team and enjoyed being on the football team too. In his early high school days, John worked at Cascade Country Club as a groundskeeper and was committed to saving money so he could buy a car. At 16, he proudly bought his first car, a Ford Coupe with a rumble seat. He and his good friend, Gary Verhey, would often double date, and Gary recalled sitting with his date in the rumble seat while traveling down to Holland, Michigan for the tulip festival. John and Gary also enjoyed listening to all kinds of music together in the small listening booths of the time or while sitting in John’s car. They often tuned the radio in to the music coming to them all the way from Randy’s Record Shop in Gallatin, Tennessee. John amassed a collection of hundreds of LPs and 45s; his favorite artist was Elvis, and he probably owned a recording of every song Elvis ever recorded. A true fan, he honed a good impersonation of the King and made a tradition of calling his friends on their birthday and crooning happy birthday to them. John also enjoyed fishing and drag racing with his nephews.
After graduating from East Grand Rapids High School with the class of 1954, John furthered his education at Michigan State University, where he also played intermural sports at Michigan State University. When he courageously chose to run for class president during his sophomore year, he overcame his stuttering! Following his schooling, John served in the Army Reserves. John loved sports cars and had several Corvettes, an Austin Healey, and Jaguar in his 20’s and early 30’s.
John’s brother-in-law, George Wells, was a golf professional and instrumental in teaching John how to play golf. As with all sports, it didn’t take long for John to excel at the game. He was a scratch golfer and played in many golf tournaments. On June 20, 1970, John met his great-love, Nancy, on a blind date. Their first date was at Blythefield Country Club, where John won the Club Championship that day and was the guest of honor.
Nancy worked at McNaughton Greenawalt Brokerage Firm as a receptionist and secretary. The couple dated for one year and three months and married on September 25, 1971, the date they chose because it didn’t interfere with any football games. After exchanging their marriage vows at Faith Lutheran Church, and settled into their new life together in an apartment in Grand Rapids. In 1975 when they had a baby on the way and needed more room, they purchased their one and only home in Wyoming, Michigan; John loved his home and never wanted to move away.
John relished in family life and thoroughly enjoyed raising his son Jim with Nancy at his side. When Jim was growing up, the family enjoyed going to Disneyland and spending summers at a cottage. Many summer weekends were spent at Blythefield Country Club, where John would golf, and Nancy and Jim would spend their afternoons at the pool. A long-treasured memory is when John and Jim won the Father-Son golf tournament. John was a loving father who modeled by example how to be a good and loving man. He often said, “if we do one good thing right, it is raising Jim to be a successful human being;” he was exceedingly proud of his son.
Moved to give of himself in service of others, John devoted his adult life to his ministry. He was ordained as a Coptic Minister by Hamid Bey on November 11, 1969. John’s favorite books were those on spirituality and world religions. His mentor, Hamid Bey, influenced his life immensely and authored several books and a volume of printed courses that John treasured. Another mentor to John was Kurt Stanley; both men were spiritual fathers to John. On July 16, 1976, John became Director of Coptic Fellowship, being named Hamid Bey’s successor and dedicating the rest of his life to continuing to teach the fundamental principles and common thread of truth inherent in and transcending all world religions, beliefs, and philosophies. He also served as President of Spiritual Unity of Nations (S.U.N.) and President of World Light Travels. The owner of “Know Yourself,” as a numerologist, he did over 10,000 readings since 1980.
A Teacher of Philosophy and Spirituality and Self Mastery, John was also a prolific writer, publishing many articles, a special daily prayer called “The Light of the World Prayer, and a book titled Be The Light of the World. He was often a guest presenter and lectured in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, and more States. With great humor. John came to introduce himself and Nancy as “Beauty and the Beast,” acknowledging his good fortune in sharing his life with his beloved. The couple shared a beautiful companionship rooted in love and friendship. They enjoyed spending many summer weekends up north near Traverse City and at Hulbert Lake Cottages near Newberry in the Upper Peninsula. Their 50th anniversary was celebrated at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Without a doubt, the world feels less certain in the absence of John’s steadfast companionship. Surely we will find much comfort in our many treasured memories and in the honor of carrying his beautiful legacy forward. As we lovingly choose truth, light, compassion, and peace, John’s spirit will continue to inspire others as he so inspired each of us.
Mr. John E. Davis, age 86, of Grand Rapids, passed away on January 31, 2023. He was preceded in death by his sister, Alta Jane (George) Wells, and sisters-in-law, Marilyn Boersma and Karen Dolan; John is survived by his wife of 51 years, Nancy; son, James DeMaar and Sylvia O’Keefe; sister-in-law, Jeanne Boersma; and several nieces and nephews. A Memorial Service will be held at 2 PM on Saturday, March 4, 2023, at Heritage Life Story – Alt and Shawmut Hills Chapel 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Family and friends will visit for one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to Coptic Fellowship. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read John’s life story, submit a favorite memory or photo, or sign the guestbook online.