Jack D Davis

September 6, 1935February 4, 2018
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Jack D Davis, Springfield, Illinois.

Husband, Father, Grandfather, Warrior and Patriot.

Jack D Davis, 82, of Springfield, passed away at his home surrounded by his family on February 4, 2018. To say Jack lived a wonderful life full of purpose and adventure is a vast understatement. It is far more accurate to describe Jack’s life as a storybook filled with highs and lows, triumphs and trials, heroics and hallmark moments.

Jack was born September 6, 1935 in Chicago, the son of Edna Haflei Bender and Russell Bender. Russell died when Jack was a child. After the War, the family moved south to a farm in Jefferson County, Illinois where his mother married Jack’s adoptive father, Melcher “M.C.” Davis. It was in Woodlawn where Jack developed his work ethic and his passion for hunting, fishing and the outdoors. He began college at the age of 15 at Southern Illinois University. He graduated at 19 and shipped off to Naval Officer Candidate School. He went on to serve as Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during the “Cold War”, flying EC-121 “Super Connies” on early warning barrier missions from Midway Island to Alaska, and back again. After his naval service, Jack worked as a counselor for the disabled. There he met a beautiful young woman from Shelbyville named Virginia (Ginny) Griffin. After a short courtship, they married. Ginny and Jack were married for 58 years. They soon moved to Chicago where Jack began his career in the steel industry. He built a successful steel business, Lexington Steel, which he sold in 1975 in order to focus on a life as a public servant.

Jack served 10 years in the Illinois General Assembly. He rose to the rank of Assistant Minority Leader of the Illinois House of Representatives. He was instrumental in writing scores of key legislation. He left the State House in 1986. He was elected to the United States Congress for the 4th District of Illinois. He proudly served on the House Armed Services Committee (arguably, other than his family, one of his proudest accomplishments). Following his service in Congress, he and Ginny relocated from the suburbs of Chicago to rural Sangamon County. However, it was not long before duty called again. President George H.W. Bush summoned Jack back to Washington where he was appointed to serve in the Pentagon as an Assistant Secretary of the United States Air Force. Like everything he did, Jack excelled at his post. He served during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm by managing the manpower and readiness functions of the USAF. He kept our aviators on course and with a safe vector back to base by being instrumental in updating the avionics of all aircraft in the inventory. True to form, Jack also flew a combat mission over Iraq during his time in the desert. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his combat role in Iraq. Following his tenure in Washington, Jack returned to Sangamon County. Never losing the gift of gab (until later), Jack had a successful radio program on WMAY for many years. Jack and Ginny were both bitten by the bug of wanderlust. Whether it was spending summers in their home on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico or circumnavigating the globe on the Canberra, it was tough to keep them from traveling. It’s tough to find a spot where they haven’t been! Jack had a special affinity for blue water. He was never happier than when he was standing in the stern of a sportfish or even a less than seaworthy panga watching a sailfish, marlin, dorado or tuna rise to strike a bait. Jack’s life experience formed the basis for stories…so many stories. Some of which were 100% true; some of which were embellished just a bit.

Jack’s qualities have been passed to his children and his children’s children. His love of theater and his beautiful voice to one of his daughters. His passion to close the deal and “make things happen” to another. His passion for fishing, hunting and the outdoors to his son.

Over his years, Jack fought and won many battles. But by far, his toughest opponent was dementia. It proved to be a cruel and most worthy adversary that took from Jack what he cherished most: his voice and his mobility. However, like most battles he fought, in the end, he won. He is now free to travel anywhere he wants anytime he wants. So the next time you’re having a drink at the Lor-e-Lei at sunset, speeding down a jungle river in central America chasing tarpon, on a tour of the Capitol building or just watching the waves roll in, listen close you may just hear him tell you a story.

Jack is survived by his wife of 58 years, Ginny of Springfield, three children: Jill Davis (Robert) Egizii of Springfield, Heather Davis (Charles IV) Schenck of Flossmoor and Jack D. (Carolyn) Davis II of Springfield and nine grandchildren: Martha Nessler, Jonathon Nessler, Thomas Nessler, Elizabeth Nessler, Emily, Charles V, Jack D. III, Molly and Hank. He was preceded in death by his brother Russell.

The family would be remiss without offering their heartfelt thanks to our special caregivers who helped us through Jack’s battle with dementia. Your service will not be forgotten.

A funeral service will be held at 12:30pm on Friday February 9, 2018 at Bisch and Son Funeral Home, 505 East Allen Street, with burial to follow at Camp Butler National Cemetery. The family will meet friends from 10:30am until the time of service Friday at Bisch and Son. Memorial contributions may be made to Land of Lincoln Honor Flight, 57 Country Place, Springfield, IL. 62703 and please visit the online “Life Remembered Story” at


  • Visitation Friday, February 9, 2018
  • Funeral Friday, February 9, 2018

Jack D Davis

have a memory or condolence to add?

Grace & Kevin Hughes

February 10, 2018

Dear Jill and Ginny,
Kevin and I are deeply sorry for your loss. Please know that you are in our hearts. Much love, grace and kevin.

Fran Smart

February 9, 2018

My prayers and deepest sympathy go out to all of you. Jack had a memorable life and was a wonderful, gracious man. It was an honor to have known him. He will be missed.

Peter Peters

February 8, 2018

I had the pleasure of serving with Jack in the Illinois House of Representatives. Those
were great years. He helped make them so.
He was dedicated to the people of his district. He was a good guy and his word was his bond.
May the Good Lords Holy Angels welcome him home. I was happy to know him as a friend.

Bob Winchester

February 7, 2018

I served with Jack in the Illinois House. He was a great guy and a leader. He will be missed.
Bob Winchester

Mike Vespa

February 7, 2018

Jill sorry to hear about your dad

Jess and Karen Foor

February 7, 2018

Ginny, Jack, Jill and Heather
Jess and I are saddened by your loss. At times like this, altho we grieve with you, all who knew Jack must be thankful that his time to pass from this world has come. He had a wonderful life and would not have wanted to suffer the past few years, or have his loved ones suffer the slow declining years he had to go thru. You have shared the best of times and the worse if times of his life. I pray your memories will sustain you knowing how proud he was of all of you and he had a life well lived. Our love to you.

Steve & Marilyn Brown

February 7, 2018

Marilyn & I offer prayers for comfort and strength for the Davis family during these sad times. Our paths crossed many of times and each was memorable. Jack did a lot to make IL a better place and generally had a good time doing it.

Kevin O'Dea

February 7, 2018

Jill -

What a wonderful tribute to your Dad who led quite a life. Sympathy to you and your family from all of us at Neuhoff Media Springfield. Cherish the memories and may he rest in peace.

Lynda Alagna

February 7, 2018

Jack and Family,
My heartfelt sympathy to you for the loss of your dad. I pray God will comfort you during this sad time.

Loleta Didrickson

February 7, 2018

Jack was a born leader with an intellect and personality as big as all outdoors. As a first term legislator, I considered Jack to be a calculating and worthy master of the legislative process. He was downstate and he was upstate all wrapped up into one heck of a guy. My sympathies to his family