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Academy of Achievement William E (Bill) Davis

William E (Bill) Davis*


Inducted 1989


Bill was born on March 12, 1916, in David City, NE to Edgar Croysdale and Artelia Maude Davis. He graduated from high school in Brock, NE; attended Drake University for a year; and transferred to Nebraska, where he was Big Six tennis champ in his division. Upon graduation, Bill was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. While training in South Carolina in 1940, he met his future wife, Margaret Porter Haskell.


He was at Schofield Barracks when Pearl Harbor was attacked. In 1943 Captain Davis was transferred to the mainland, where he married Margaret after three years of writing and one week of dating. As a major, he transferred to England, where he served as ground liaison officer for the Army Air Corps, helping with the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge. He retired after 20 years in the Reserve as a lieutenant colonel. In 1947, they moved to Oklahoma City, where Bill went to work with the John Sexton Co. to learn the food service distribution business.


In 1953, he and Margaret started Davis Wholesale Grocery. With the help of hundreds of loyal employees and thousands of customers, they built a successful business, Wm. E. Davis & Sons. All the children worked in the business at some capacity at some time. They sold in 1986. Bill continued with the successor company, US Food Service, for another 14 years. In 1987, they established the first directed fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Since then, they’ve given away more than $1.5 million in over 1,000 grants.


Bill was an avid tennis player, winning the OKC Pro-Am with Dennis Ralston in 1965. He later took up golf and loved dancing and playing bridge. He was an avid Oklahoma Sooner football fan. In 1989, he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Sales and Marketing Executives International. Oklahoma State University established the Wm. E. Davis Distinguished Chair endowed professorship. 


*Deceased member