Paul Robinson Davis

Published 9:26am Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Paul Robinson Davis

Auburn

Paul Robinson Davis, 74, died Sept. 23 at his home in Auburn after a short illness.

He was the son of W.M. and Una Belle Davis of Montevallo and Tuscaloosa, who preceded him in death.

An award-winning journalist and the owner of several newspapers, Davis was president and publisher of Davis Newspapers of Auburn. Davis and his wife, Gayle, owned the Auburn Bulletin for many years and the Tallassee Tribune for several years. The Tuskegee News has been owned by Davis Newspapers for more than 25 years.

The Auburn Bulletin and Tuskegee News combined to win more than 60 awards for news coverage, editorial excellence and column writing under Davis’ ownership. Davis also owned and published The Lee County Eagle and Spirit Magazine for years and wrote a Sunday column for the Opelika-Auburn News that also appeared in The Tuskegee News.

In 2006, Davis was presented the Alabama Press Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award by his peers in the newspaper industry. He was also one of the first recipients of the Community Service Journalism Award from Auburn University. The American Association of University Professors chapter at Auburn University presented Davis its Meritorious Service Award in 2004 for his coverage of issues related to higher education. The Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program in 2008 honored Davis with a lifetime achievement award. At that time, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby read the story of Davis’ career into the Congressional Record.

Davis’ work as a reporter at The Tuscaloosa News in the late 1960s and early 1970s earned him two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. His reporting on the medical beat uncovered abuses of mentally disabled children and adults at Partlow School and abuses of patients at Bryce Hospital for the mentally ill. Davis’ stories led to federal court decisions that set new national standards for the care of the mentally disabled and mentally ill. Former Governor Bob Riley appointed Davis to the Alabama Department of Mental Health Board of Directors. Davis continued to serve the board until his death.

Davis was a former president of the Alabama Press Association (APA) and was active in many of APA activities. In his journalistic career, Davis served as a reporter and associate editor of The Tuscaloosa News, editor of The Selma Times-Journal, vice president and general manager of the Natchez, Miss., Democrat and as publisher and editor of the Auburn Bulletin, The Tuskegee News and the Tallassee Tribune.

Davis was one of the founding members of the Food Bank of Lee County and served as its first president for two years. He continued to serve on the board of the organization as the facility expanded to serve five counties, including Macon County.

Davis was born Sept. 3, 1938, in Clanton. He was a member of the Auburn Church of Christ for many years.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, Willard Davis.

He is survived by his wife, Gayle Davis; their children: Alan Davis and his wife, Nancy, of Auburn, Roger Richardson and his wife, Jenny, of Acworth, Ga., Susan Davis May and her husband, Thomas, of Auburn, Keith Richardson and his wife, Cindy, of Dallas, Ga., Chris Davis and his wife, Sissy, of Auburn, and Scott Richardson of Auburn; two sisters: Peggy Davis Woods of Atlanta and Faye Davis Kennedy of Birmingham; four brothers: John Milton Davis of Beaumont, Texas, C. Wayne Davis of Morrilton, Ark., Roy W. Davis of Shreveport, La., and Hubert E. Davis of Atlanta, Ga.; 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Visitation is at Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at Auburn Church of Christ on South College Street. The family is accepting flowers, or contributions can be made to the Auburn Christian Student Center, The Food Bank of East Alabama or The Bleeker Ruritan Scholarship Program for Lee County, Salem.

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