April 11, 1936 - March 5, 2017
Mary Jean Davis, 80, of Gainesville, Florida passed away peacefully Sunday, March 5, 2017 with her family by her side after suffering an unexpected and devastating stroke five days earlier.
She was born April 11, 1936 in Bisbee, Arizona to Ina and Eugene Davis. Following the death of her father at an early age, her mother and family moved to Ashland, Oregon where she would spend the formative years of her life. A popular student with a sparkling personality, she was an honor student, cheerleader, majorette, and voted one of the Outstanding Seniors of the 1954 graduating class of Ashland High School. One of her proudest high school achievements was winning the Oregon State Debate Championship in 1953, a talent that would serve her well throughout her life. The friendships and experiences of her youth in Ashland would be the springboard that would lead to a rich and fulfilling 80 years of life.
Mary Jean Davis and Robert Myrick, also an Ashland native, were married in 1955, together raising three children and all eventually settling in Gainesville, Florida in 1967. A strong believer in higher education, Mary Jean would earn her bachelor degree in education from Southern Oregon College, master degree in education from Arizona State University, and Ph.D in educational leadership from the University of Florida, all while working part time, full time, and being a wonderful mother to her children.
These degrees would lead her to the honorable field of education, in which she would work in a variety of positions for 41 years. She began her teaching career in 1968 at Littlewood Elementary School, and continued her classroom teaching and supervision until 1983, with positions at Williams Elementary and Ft. Clarke Middle School along the way. In the summer of 1983 Mary Jean was named supervisor of Beginning Teacher and Special Programs for Alachua county, a position she would hold for 12 years. From 1995 until 1998 she served as an Assistant Principal at Westwood Middle School, and in the summer of 1998 was named Principal of High Springs Elementary, a position she held until her retirement in 2003. After taking some time off, she returned to work in 2004 as a grant specialist and principal consultant for the State of Florida, a position that over the next six years would take her throughout the state to assist school districts with curriculum and administrative leadership. Over all these years in education, the students she taught were always a source of inspiration to her, and the professional educators and administrators with whom she worked would be the foundation of friendships that would last her entire life.
The last years of her boundless energy was spent with a very special group that always provided friendship, love, and purpose - the Gainesville Chapter of the Altrusa International Community Service Organization. Mary Jean served many roles, including President from 2011 - '12 and Altrusa House Board of Directors in 2016. She was honored in 2015 with the Unsung Hero Award for her years of help with numerous community service projects.
An avid Gator Fan, Mary Jean attended nearly every home Florida football game for the past 25 years, with tailgating among family and friends among her most treasured memories. Her love of travel and cruises was shared with Bill Shreve, forming a special relationship between them that lasted for 30 years. Her love of the beach was highlighted by the annual two-week family gathering she sponsored at Crescent Beach for children, grandchildren, and extended family, where love, laughter, games, and many exaggerated stories ruled the day.
She is survived by her son, Mark Myrick; daughters, Susan Myrick and Karen Smith.; grandchildren, Clint Geer, Lyndsey Blanks, Chad Easterly, Lauren Easterly, and Justin Myrick; and three great-grandchildren, Matthew, Muriel, and Kyle Geer.
Services will be held at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, March 16, 2017 at the Trinity United Methodist Church, Gainesville Fla. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the MJ Davis Memorial Scholarship sponsored by Gainesville chapter of Altrusa International or Haven Hospice of Gainesville.