Valley County, IDGenWeb Project

Thomas Jefferson "Tom" Davis

August 30, 1915 ~ March 9, 2014

(Idaho Statesman, March 12, 2014)

Thomas Jefferson "Tom" Davis died on March 9, 2014, of natural causes, in Boise, Idaho. He was born in Boise on Aug. 30, 1915, at Saint Alphonsus Hospital, to Marcella Torrance Davis and Edwin H. Davis. He was the last living grandchild of Boise pioneers Tom and Julia Davis.

Dad was the second of four children (Julia, Tom, Marcy Kirby and Mary Kerby) and grew up in Boise. His father owned Davis Packing Plant in Garden City, and the family lived near the plant. Dad loved living among the Chinese in Garden City and often shared a meal with them. He attended Parks School, but once school was out, he and his sister Julia rode horses over the mountains and spent summers on the family's cattle ranch on land now covered by Cascade Reservoir.

Dad wrote in his autobiography, "Resurrection of the Bar O," "I always loved Long Valley, and life really began for me in 1929 when we moved from Boise to Long Valley permanently. That spring, (my) Dad worked it out with his family and gave up his interest in the Thomas J. Davis estate in Boise in exchange for the ranch in Cascade. Leaving Boise brought quite a change for my family, and I probably benefited the most from this move. Life was very different in Long Valley because we had no electricity or running water, but I loved it. The next year, however, my sister Julia died, and this really broke the family up."

After graduating from Cascade High School in 1935, Dad attended Boise Junior College (BJC had just opened, in the buildings of St. Margaret's Hall), Bakersfield Junior College, and Oregon State College. At OSC, he joined Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and graduated in March of 1940.

Tom bought the first of his 23 ranches soon thereafter. "In May of 1941, my dad told me he thought I should buy a ranch on the east side of Cascade. I met Boyd Smith in town and we sat on the curb in front of the Corner Joint and he agreed to sell me 1,320 acres and that is where I started. This ranch became known as the "Home Place". In the spring of 1942, I made the best decision of my whole life when Jemima Klein and I decided to get married on May 29, 1942."

It is hard to mention Dad without Mom. After they were married, they moved into a little house on the "home ranch" just east of Cascade on the Warm Lake Road. They built their log home some 64 years ago, and it is still part of the ranch. Summers were always spent in Cascade, with the arrival of the cattle in May. These "yearlings" were sold in the fall, when mom and dad purchased new calves to raise. They spent their first winter in Cascade, feeding cattle, but the winters proved too tough and the cattle didn't thrive. So they began moving twice a year (including the milk cow and the chickens), a pattern that continued for their entire married life. Winter homes included Baker, OR, Emmett, ID, and then Vale, OR. As their cattle herds grew and Jeff and Ed got out of school, they bought the Alvord Ranch out of Burns, OR, and the Ruby Ranch out of Jordan Valley, OR, and wintered there. They also bought other ranches in Cascade for summer range.

Cascade was a great place to summer cattle, Tom wrote. "I started irrigating early in the spring and I would irrigate on foot most of the time, walking through the ranch twice a day. I was covering most of the ranch with irrigation water about three times during the summer. Gradually we added more land to our holding in Cascade. In 2005, the cattle gained 225 lbs. in 97 days on the home place." As they added more land, dad had to learn to ride a Honda 110 to get around it on.

Summers were the high point of the year for Dad, especially Cascade's famous 4th of July Parade and Horse Races (Dad helped organize the first celebration in 1934). Then there was the Payette River Cattleman's Rodeo and Barbecue in Garden Valley over Labor Day. Bridge was a passion around the house, and we all learned to play; a card table was set up so we always had a game going when any four of us were there. Dad loved reading, and the library became his favorite stop in town. He also started golfing, at age 60.

Thirty years ago, Dad and Mom began spending time in Palm Desert, CA, eventually buying a home where they spent six months in the winter. After the cattle were shipped out in the fall, they would comment that the "palm trees were calling" and would begin preparing to head south.

Dad's world changed when mom died last June, and we are grateful they are together again. Dad was also preceded in death by his parents, his three sisters, daughter-in-law, Barbara Dahmen Davis, grandson, Corey Davis, and three great-grandchildren: Nicholas Davis, Ethan Davis and Amaya Swain.

He leaves a legacy of five children, 12 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren: Jeff (Shawn Shepherd) Davis- Tommy, Mitch and Christy House; Ed (Leilani Retzlaff) Davis- Paul, Mike and Frank; Linda (Jim) Leonard; Diane (Dave) Myklegard- Drew, Annie Craig and Jen Laubhan; Phil (Yvette Yturri) Davis- Sarah Swain, Josh and Katlin, and all of their families.

Mass of Christian Burial will be Celebrated at 1:30 pm, Thursday, March 13, 2014, at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Boise, with a Rosary Vigil service beginning at 1:00 pm. A reception will follow at the Basque Center. Graveside services will be held at 11:00 am, Friday, March 14, 2014 in Cascade at Margaret's Cemetery.

Our family would like to thank the staff at Willow Park Senior Living and the great doctors, nurses, CNAs and all the staff on 5 South at Saint Alphonsus.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Cascade Public Library, P. O. Box 10, Cascade, ID 83611, or to the City of Boise, Julia Davis Park Heritage Fund, 1104 Royal Blvd., Boise, ID 83706, for the Agriculture Pavilion.

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