The University of Pittsburgh recently named Westmoreland County native and founder of the Davis Supermarket chain Robert H. Davis one of its 2013 Legacy Laureates.
Davis received his award during a special dinner held Thursday, September 26, during the University of Pittsburgh’s Homecoming activities.
Then on October 15, Davis was recognized for this achievement by the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg when he met with students and attended a congratulatory dinner on campus. Davis served as a member of the Pitt-Greensburg Advisory Board, including a chairman from 1983 to 1985, and is now an Emeritus member.
“Bob Davis’ life experience goes above and beyond the definition of exceptional success as set forth by the University of Pittsburgh,” said Sharon P. Smith, president of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. “An outstanding representative of the ‘greatest generation,’ Bob has lived the Pitt Promise honoring the pledge to ‘contribute to the development of a caring community where compassion for others and freedom of thought and expression are valued.’ Pitt-Greensburg is grateful for the service Bob has provided to this campus and our region. He is truly deserving of the honor of being named a Legacy Laureate and we are proud to present him as a role model for our students.”
The University of Pittsburgh’s Legacy Laureate program recognizes alumni for their personal and career achievements. Legacy Laureates are individuals who have achieved exceptional success in pursuit of their life goals and who continue to inspire by their example. The goal is to recognize these individuals as living examples to Pitt students of the potential for excellence that exists within the University of Pittsburgh community, which is based on the belief, as stated by Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, that there will be no better role models for students than alumni who have been successful in their chosen fields.
Davis’s connection to the University of Pittsburgh began in 1939, after he graduated from Jeannette High School with numerous track awards. Pitt awarded him an athletic scholarship, and Davis worked a student job sweeping the steps of the Cathedral of Learning. During his college career, Davis lettered in cross country and track, serving as captain of the team as a senior. Before graduating in 1943 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business, he had earned Pitt’s coveted Gold Shoe Award and met his wife of 68 years, Phyllis (Levine) Davis.
Five days after graduating from Pitt, Davis reported for duty as a member of the U.S. Navy. A World War II veteran, he survived six months of Germany’s bombing of England and fought on Normandy’s Utah Beach during the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion.
Davis returned to the United States in 1946. He and Phyllis moved to the Greensburg area, where they raised four children: James Davis, married to Marilyn; Carole Davis; Steven Davis; and Rachel Leah “Terry” Davis. At this time, Davis began working for his father’s corner grocery store, a business he expanded into the successful Davis Supermarket chain. Serving as president of the company for nearly 50 years, he received multiple national awards, including Brand Names Outstanding Food Retailer of the Year (1966).
The Greensburg area benefited greatly from Davis’s years of service as president of the Central Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Authority. He served as president and board chairman of the Westmoreland County Society for Crippled Children and Adults and as chairman of the Greensburg-Jeannette-Irwin Committee for Employment of the Handicapped. His commitment to hiring disabled works led to his being named to President Lyndon Johnson’s Committee for the Employment of the Handicapped.
His contributions to the region and its citizens have been manifold, including involvement with the Mental Health Association (now Mental Health America of Westmoreland County), Boy Scouts of America, and the Westmoreland Girl Scout Council. Recognized as one of the initiators of the Greensburg Project Head Start Program, he also served as president of both the Congregation Emanu-El Israel and Warren Roy Laufe B’nai Brith Greensburg Lodge.
The awards, commendations, and honors Davis has received for his service to the community are too numerous to mention in detail, but they include the Fred Funari Award of Distinction, the Israel Bond Man of the Year Award, and the Pitt-Greensburg President’s Medal for Distinguished Service.