Father William F. Davis, former School Superintendent of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, dies at 82


ARLINGTON, Va. -- Oblate of St. Francis de Sales Fr. William F. Davis died July 4, 2016 at Annecy Hall at the De Sales Centre in Childs, Maryland, where he had been cared for during his six month struggle with pancreatic cancer. He was 82.

Fr. Davis was born October 23, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, son of the late William F. and Agnes Allen Davis.  He attended Niagara University in Lewiston, New York, and it was there where he was inspired by seminarian classmates to enter their Oblate seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 1961 for the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales (O.S.F.S) at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Delaware.

Known as a distinguished educator, Fr. Davis began his educational career at Father Judge High School in Philadelphia where he spent 15 years serving as a as teacher, athletic director, academic dean, and principal, respectively. He served as Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington for eight years, followed by seventeen years in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's Office of Catholic Education where he worked on public policy issues.

Fr. Davis left an indelible mark on education while serving as Superintendent of Catholic Schools at the Catholic Diocese of Arlington from September 1, 1978, to June 30, 1986. For example, several schools opened under his leadership including Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax.  During his tenure, Fr. Davis placed lay people as Catholic school administrators at a time when Catholic school leaders were limited to clergy, and religious brothers and sisters. He was prominent on the state level as President of the Virginia Counsel of Private Education (VCPE), and testified before the state legislature on issues pertaining to Catholic and private schools, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and the Individual Disabilities and Education Act (IDEA). He also managed to secure federal funding for private schools which had been affected by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

"On behalf of our diocesan family I offer sincere sympathy and the pledge of prayer to Very Rev. James J. Greenfield, O.S.F.S., Oblate provincial, and to all the Oblates of the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province on the death of Fr. William F. Davis, O.S.F.S." says the Most Reverend Bishop Paul Loverde of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. He adds, "Although I did not know Fr. Davis while he served here, I am aware of his many contributions to Catholic education in this Diocese and beyond. I did meet him on a number of occasions later after my arrival in 1999 and saw clearly his continuing love for Catholic education and his priestly pastoral care. May the Good Shepherd now give him eternal life in His presence forever."

In additional to his confreres in the Oblates, Fr. Davis is survived by his nieces and nephews. His brother and sister-in-law, Donald and Claire Davis, preceded him in death.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Fr. Davis Friday, July 8, 2016, at 11:15 a.m. at Our Lady of Light Chapel, 1120 Blue Ball Road, Elkton, Maryland, 21921. A viewing from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. will precede the Mass. Interment will follow the Mass. In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Fr. Davis' name are requested to the Oblate Development Fund, 2200 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, Delaware, 19806.