Levin “Lev” Venoy Davis was born in Comanche County, Texas on November 3, 1926. He was one of the eight children born to Isaac Mitchell Davis and Ruth Davis. The Davis family moved to O’Donnell, Texas in the 1930’s where they were cotton farmers.
Lev met his lifelong friend Dan Blocker (1928-1971) in O’Donnell, where Dan’s parents owned and operated a grocery store. Dan Blocker later became “Hoss” Cartwright on the TV series Bonanza. Lev and Dan remained close personal friends throughout their lives.
Lev had to pick cotton for most of the year and was only able to attend school after New Year’s Day; however, he graduated as valedictorian of his class and went on to attend Texas Tech and Texas A&M on football scholarships. He was drafted into the army and arrived in Germany where he served as a constabulary during the time that WWII was coming to an end.
Davis returned to Texas and attended Sul Ross College in Alpine in 1947 on the GI Bill and a football scholarship. Lev met the love of his life, Sara Joyce (1932-2006), in Alpine. He and Sara were married in the spring of 1949, and they raised four children: Jack, Bozeman, Montana, Dana, Helena, Montana, Lonnie, Helena, Montana, and Micky Bozeman, Montana.
Levin and Sara began their lives together in O’Donnell and later on the Pecos River as cotton farmers. Lev became foreman of a Brahmas bull ranch in Honey Grove, Texas before moving back to Sara’s hometown of Alpine. While in Alpine, Lev and Sara both attended Sul Ross College, held full time jobs, and raised four preschool children.
Levin Davis became the president of the Chamber of Commerce and was active in promoting visitation to Big Bend National Park. He was also the acting Commissioner of Semi-Professional Baseball in Texas in 1955-56. He was responsible for exhibition games played at Kokernut Field in Alpine between the Boston Red Socks and the Chicago Cubs. Herbert Kokernut and Lev worked together and were instrumental in establishing the first World Series of College Baseball in Wichita, Kansas. Lev was then hired as the special representative of the president of the Lone Star Brewing Company from 1960-1965.
The Davis family moved to Southern California in 1965. Lev and Dan Blocker were best friends and business partners for much of their professional lives. Lev worked with the television stars of Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and The Virginian when they made public appearances in the southwest. He and Sara became acquainted with many television personalities and musicians through their association with Dan Blocker, including Johnny Cash, “Ramblin,” Jack Elliott, Lester Flatt and Earl Scrugs, Dick Van Dyke, Milburn Stone, Ken Curtis, Michael Landon, Loren Green, Wally Cox, and others. Lev and Dan were lifelong Democrats and worked closely with a number of politicians, including John Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, Alan Cranston, and Pat Brown.
The Davises owned and operated a Bonanza Sirloin Pit and then Lev’s Steak House in Los Angeles from 1967 through 1970. They then relocated to Lake Tahoe and established a resort management and concessionaire company. There they managed and operated the concessions at the Ponderosa Ranch, Mount Rose Ski Lodge, Zephyr Cove Beach, Greenhorn Guest Ranch, and several restaurants in the Reno-Lake Tahoe area.
In 1975, the Davis family moved again, this time to Montana where they established a building maintenance company. Davis Maintenance provided maintenance services for more than 250 locations throughout Montana over the next twenty-five years, Mountain Bell / US West / Qwest Communications was their largest client and presented Davis Maintenance an award for best contract services in eleven states.
Levin Venoy Davis died in Helena, Montana on April 17, 2006. He loved bluegrass music, and everyone enjoyed his famous Texas chili, beans, and cornbread. He achieved many things in his life, but Lev will be remembered best for being a devoted husband, a loving father, a caring grandfather, and a faithful friend. Lev was a champion of the little guy and always tried to help those less fortunate than himself. He lost his eyesight ten years before his passing, yet he never expressed self-pity; instead, he constantly reminded everyone how great life is and how fortunate we are. Lev was an inspiration to many, and those who knew him will miss him.
Lev and Sara passed away within six weeks of each other in 2006. They left behind four children, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.