April 23, 2008: Memorials
MELVILLE CAMPBELL BRANCH ’34
Mel Branch, described in a Los Angeles Times obituary as “an educator, author, and urban planner who taught at the University of Southern California for many years and served on the Los Angeles Planning Commission through the 1960s,” died Feb. 11, 2007, of complications from heart disease at his home in Pacific Palisades. A pioneer in his field, he was the first student to earn a doctoral degree in regional planning at Harvard, in 1949.
Mel was the author of more than 20 books, including Comprehensive Planning for the 21st Century: General Theory and Principles, published in 1998. He became immersed in a teaching and writing career even before he had completed his graduate studies. In the early 1940s he helped establish the Bureau of Urban Research at Princeton. He became an associate professor of planning at the University of Chicago in 1947, then taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, before joining the faculty of USC in 1966.
Mel married Hilda Rollman in 1951. Surviving, in addition to her, are a stepdaughter, Veronica Kaufman, and several nieces and nephews. A memorial service is planned for later this year.
The Class of 1934
Charles F. Burroughs Jr. ’36
Charlie, a lifelong resident of Norfolk, Va., died at home Dec. 7, 2007.
He came to Princeton via Norfolk Academy and Princeton Prep. Charlie was a member of Campus Club, where he was highly regarded for his gentlemanly Southern manner, wonderful sense of humor, and outgoing personality. He served as an officer in the Navy during World War II.
Charlie’s family owned the Royster Co., a major fertilizer distributor in the Southeast. He worked for the company for 40 years, serving as president for 20 years.
Charlie played an important role in his community and state. He was on the boards of Virginia Electric & Power and Virginia National Bank. He served as president of the Eastern Virginia Medical School and as a trustee of Norfolk Academy, and was involved with the Chrysler Museum. He served on the Norfolk Foundation board for more than 40 years. In 1985 he was named the First Citizen of Norfolk.
Charlie’s wife, Virginia, predeceased him. He is survived by his sons, Charles and Richard; a daughter, Anne Babcock; five grandchildren; and three great-granddaughters. The class extends sympathy to the family of this consummate Southern gentleman.
The Class of 1936
ROBERT SWAN MUELLER JR. ’38
Bob died Dec. 26, 2007, in Dedham, Mass.
He attended Gilman School in Baltimore, and at Princeton majored in psychology. Bob was on the varsity football, hockey, and lacrosse teams and was a member of Cap and Gown Club. He also was, for three years, our first class president and was Ivy Orator senior year.
After college Bob entered the Navy, serving as an officer in the Atlantic and Mediterranean during World War II. Postwar, Bob worked for DuPont until his retirement. He also was an avid golfer. His wife of 64 years, the former Alice Truesdale, recently predeceased him.
Bob is survived by his son, Robert S. III ’66, the current FBI director; four daughters, Susan M. Timchak, Sandra M. Dick, Joan B. and Patricia; 11 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. The class extends deep sympathy to all of Bob’s family as we share in the loss of this outstanding classmate.
The Class of 1938
Adrian Jacques Grossman ’39
Jack died March 10, 2007.
After graduating from Princeton, Jack attended MIT, where he earned a master’s degree in chemical engineering. The following year he worked on his doctorate in chemistry at Columbia University. All this prepared him for his principal occupation, which he described as solving ill-structured problems of industry through adaptation of the scientific method, for General Electric Co., Borden, the New York Stock Exchange, and finally as a semiretired consultant for the New York Clearing House banks and major brokerage firms.
Jack enjoyed helping young people develop more fully as adviser to the Liberal Religious Youth of the Unitarian Church, and as a senior officer of several Unitarian churches, social clubs, and youth-run camps. He was a member of the Princeton Schools Committee for Suffolk County.
Predeceased by his wife, Shirley, Jack is survived by their daughters, Betty Jo Pfeiffer and Amy Louise Grossman, to whom we offer our sincere sympathy.
The Class of 1939
Alan Tower Waterman Jr. ’39
Alan died of pneumonia in Palo Alto, Calif., Jan. 9, 2008.
After Princeton, Alan studied meteorology at Cal Tech, and during World War II, he worked on a research team that enabled the propagation of radar beyond the horizon. After earning a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1952, he joined the Stanford electrical engineering faculty in 1954. He retired in 1983 as a member of the STARLAB group, though he continued teaching for several years. He edited the journal Radio Science through the 1980s.
An outdoorsman since his youth, having made long canoe trips in Maine and alone in the boundary waters of Minnesota, he could still handle a canoe at 89. An active member of the Rock Climbing Section of the Sierra Club, he climbed in all the major ranges in the Americas and Europe. He totaled his car in a rollover crash in Nevada on the way to join the Princeton alumni climb at Mount Princeton, and then was disappointed he did not summit the peak. He ran the Boston Marathon, among others, and set the world record for steeplechases in the over-55 group.
Alan’s wife, Lori, died in 2001. He is survived by two daughters, two sons, 12 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. With them we celebrate the life of this extraordinary man.
The Class of 1939
Charles D. Compton ’40
Charlie died Jan. 5, 2008, in Bradenton, Fla., having devoted his life to education and writing chemistry textbooks.
He prepared at Rahway (N.J.) High School. At Princeton he majored in chemistry, was a member of the Chemistry Club, and graduated with honors as a member of Sigma Xi and Phi Beta Kappa. In 1943, he earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at Yale.
Charlie was an instructor and research associate at Princeton, serving as an assistant to Sir Hugh Taylor, dean of the Graduate School, while working during World War II on the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb.
After the war, Charlie joined the chemistry faculty at Williams College, becoming a professor and then chairman of the chemistry department and the Ebenezer Fitch Professor in 1957. He was also secretary of the faculty. Upon retirement he came to Bradenton in 1979, serving as a lecturer at New College.
He authored two chemistry texts: Introduction to Chemistry, published in 1956, and Inside Chemistry, published in 1979, a college-level book for non-chemistry majors. Charlie was gratified to see these texts translated into Spanish and Japanese editions.
His wife, Ida Lightman Kay, died in 1985. Charlie leaves no survivors. The class cherishes the memory of this loyal Princetonian.
The Class of 1940
CHARLES SINNICKSON JR. ’44
Charlie died Dec. 5, 2007, in his apartment in London.
We knew him as “Tiger,” a name familiar to his family. He lived in England since around 1960, when he worked for the bishop of Oxford, then went to a seminary and was ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1963.
Born in Rosemont, Pa., his father was Charles Sinnickson, Class of 1895. Charlie prepped at Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia and St. George’s School in Newport, R.I., where he managed sports teams and was active in dramatics. At Princeton, he majored in modern languages and was a member of Theatre Intime and Terrace Club.
Tiger graduated in 1943, was assistant music critic for the Philadelphia Record, then studied at the Sorbonne before moving to London. He served as vicar in parishes in Soho and Chelsea, and ran a successful drama group for young people at the latter. Before retiring in the 1990s, he often subbed for area ministers.
Burial was next to his parents in Bryn Mawr, Pa. Tiger’s closest survivors are his nephew, Mike DaCosta, and his niece, Ruth M. Hicks. Our sincere condolences also go to a godson, his cousins, and many friends.
The Class of 1944
Charles Howard Reeves ’48
Howie Reeves died Jan. 21, 2008, in Naples, Fla., where he and Shirlee were winter residents.
Known as “Charlie” in recent years — especially in Louisville, where the couple resided for most of the year — he was Howie in his undergraduate years and among Princeton friends.
Howie joined us by way of Scarsdale (N.Y.) High School. At Princeton he captained the freshman basketball team, was active in intramural sports, was a member of Cap and Gown, and graduated in June 1949 with honors in economics. He was at King’s Point Merchant Marine Academy from 1945 to 1946 and served in the Army from 1950 to 1952.
Howie’s career was in banking. After his Army service he joined the First National City Bank in New York City and became a vice president in 1956. He served what became Citicorp for 24 years. In 1978 he moved to Louisville and its First National Bank. At age 56, he and Shirlee Frazier were married.
Howie always enjoyed tennis and was a top player in his age group. He was a Giants football fan.
The class extends its sympathy to Shirlee and to Howie’s two stepsons.
The Class of 1948
ELZEY GALLATIN BURKHAM JR. ’48
Elzey Burkham died Oct. 12, 2006, at his home in Rye Beach, N.H., after a brief illness.
Born in St. Louis, Elzey attended St. Louis Country Day School and entered Princeton after his graduation from St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H. His brother was the late James Burkham ’41.
Elzey was a psychology major and a member of Colonial Club. During his senior year he married Nancy Floyd. His career at Princeton was interrupted by Navy service aboard the USS Mango during World War II.
Returning to St. Louis, Elzey spent his entire career in the municipal bond business, first with G.H. Walker & Co. and then with J.A. Glynn & Co. For many years he was an officer of the Municipal Bond Dealers Association in St. Louis. He was on the board of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Red Cross, and was an active volunteer for children in need with the St. Louis Juvenile Court System for many years.
In 1983, Elzey and Nancy took up permanent residence at their summer home in Rye Beach, returning to an apartment in Clayton, Mo., for the winter months every year.
Nancy died in 1996. Elzey is survived by two sons, Elzey G. III and Scott C.; a daughter, Elizabeth B. Kenney; and four grandchildren. To them all, the class extends its sincerest sympathy.
The Class of 1948
MELVIN PAUL ANTELL ’49
Mel died Nov. 12, 2007, after a sudden flare-up of the lymphoma he had battled successfully for years. He was 82.
He prepared for Princeton at Hillside (N.J.) High School and served as a bombardier in the Army Air Corps during World War II. At Princeton he majored in English and was a member of the Debate Panel, the Student Employment Agency, and Prospect Club.
Mel entered Yale Law School immediately after graduation. After earning his law degree from Yale, he joined the Newark Law firm of Lorenz & Stamler, where he stayed until 1961. He also served as an assistant prosecutor and deputy attorney general. In 1961 he was appointed to the New Jersey Appellate Court, where he remained until his retirement as the appellate division presiding judge. He also served on the Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Education and was its chairman for three years. He was instrumental in establishing the New Jersey Judicial College in which the entire state judiciary participates annually.
Mel is survived by his wife, Bebe; his sons, Donal and Gordon; a daughter, Nancy Nitka; and four grandchildren. The class extends sincere sympathy to them on their loss of this fine public servant.
The Class of 1949
DONALD M. HALSTED JR. ’49
Don died Nov. 20, 2007, after a long fight with emphysema. He was 80.
He prepared for Princeton at the Gunnery School and Lawrenceville. At Princeton he majored in economics. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II in the Pacific theater. Don was a member of Tiger Inn.
After graduation, Bob joined Lehigh Portland Cement Co. in the sales department. In 1961 he moved to the Atlantic Cement Co. as assistant vice president of marketing. He subsequently became president, CEO, and director. In 1979 he joined Lone Star Industries as president and CEO, working in this capacity until his retirement in 1984.
After retirement, Bob served on the boards of numerous organizations and companies. In 1997 he moved to Bonita Springs, Fla., to fully enjoy fishing, hunting, and golf.
Don was preceded in death by his wife, Helen, in 1996 and a daughter, Dana, in 1964. He is survived by his wife, Joan; a son, Donald M. III; a stepson, Kevin Edwards; a daughter, Amy; a stepdaughter, Cynthia Tuttle; and five grandchildren. The class joins with them in their loss and extends its deepest sympathy.
The Class of 1949
J. WILSON BORDEN JR. ’50
Bill Borden died of cancer Aug. 17, 2007, in Bryn Mawr, Pa. “He brought to all his activities a lovely sense of humor, diligence, and integrity,” said his daughter Cynthia.
He was born in Philadelphia, graduated from the Haverford School, and served in the Army in the Philippines from 1945 to 1946. At Princeton, Bill studied basic engineering and was a member of Tower Club.
After graduation he joined John Borden & Bro. Inc., the mechanical engineering firm his great-grandfather founded in 1835. He later headed the company, which completed several Center City Philadelphia high-rises. When the firm closed, he earned a master’s at Penn’s Wharton School in 1979 and became a consulting engineer
Bill was a classic-car enthusiast, buying his first, a 1923 Rolls-Royce, while in high school. He owned other classic cars, driving his 1954 Bristol until six months before his death. He was active in several classic-auto clubs. He was past president, treasurer, and board member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Ardmore, Pa., and a member of Rotary International.
Our condolences go to his daughters, Cynthia and Ardis; son Peter; and five grandchildren. Joan, his wife of 48 years, died in 1999.
The Class of 1950
JAMES HENRY GLENN III ’51
Jim was born March 11, 1929, in Philadelphia, raised in Meadowbrook, Pa., and came to us from the William Penn Charter School. He roomed with Charlie Ganoe, George Nesbitt, and Woozy Supplee, and after freshman year, he transferred to Amherst, where he studied economics and history and earned a bachelor’s in 1951.
He served as a lieutenant on board the USS Baltimore until 1955, when he went to work for McCormick and Co., the spice dealers, and became a regional sales manager. In 1961 he established Chesapeake Food Brokers, which later became the Chesapeake Randall Co. He was its CEO until several years ago, when he sold the business.
Jim’s hobby was thoroughbred racing: His horse, Jorgie Stover, came in third in the Maryland Million at Laurel Park. He was president of Big Brothers of Baltimore from 1967 to 1970, and served as a trustee of St. Paul’s School from 1970 to 1980.
Jim died Oct. 10, 2007, of colon cancer. He is survived by his wife, the former Catherine Boone; their son, Michael; their daughter, Dana Larrabee; and four grandchildren.
The Class of 1951
JOHN DUNHAM GRISWOLD ’51
John was born Nov. 24, 1928, in Montclair, N.J., and came to us from Blair.
At Princeton he majored in biology, was active in the Chapel Choir, and was a member of the premed society and Tower. He roomed with Dick Hayes and Dick Haury. John graduated magna cum laude and went on to the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. After five years in the Army Medical Corps, with the rank of captain, he went into private practice and retired in 1997.
His marriage to Elizabeth Rowe Griswold ended in divorce, and his second wife, Dolores Wahl Griswold, died in 1986.
John died June 3, 2007. He is survived by a daughter and son from his first marriage, Elizabeth Van Wagenen and Kettner J. F. Griswold; his sister, Enid G. Hyde; his brother, Robert; and five grandchildren. Another brother, Frederick, predeceased him.
In 1982, John established the Kettner Gadebusch Class of 1927 Scholarship at Princeton in honor of his medical school benefactor.
John was a survivor, having fought for many years with bipolar illness and its related medication dependencies that eventually took him from us. We join his family in remembering this gifted man who not only faced major personal challenges but did so much to help others.
The Class of 1951
FRANK F. PEARD JR. ’52
Frank Peard died peacefully May 25, 2007, at his home in Duxbury, Mass., from complications of acute leukemia. During his brief stay at the cancer center in Boston, Frank was visited by two of his best friends and roommates, Gough Thompson and Dizzy Gillespie.
Frank graduated from the Gilman School in Baltimore, majored in politics, and belonged to Cap and Gown at Princeton. After graduation he joined more than 100 1952 ROTC artillery officers at Fort Sill, Okla., and later served in Korea at the conclusion of the war.
In 1955 he married Barbara Reifschneider and began a 40-year career as owner and board member of R.L. McCoy Lumber Co. But Frank’s core interests also sought to nurture a society that was less violent and provided opportunity for all. He exercised a passion to rescue teenage children from the despair of dysfunctional family life.
To this end, he and his wife served as guardians ad litem for the 10th Circuit Court in Florida, and spent countless weekends at the Martin County Boot Camp for Juvenile Offenders.
After the death of Frank’s first wife in 2002, he married Barbara Smith, who survives him, as do his four children and 10 grandchildren, to all of whom the class extends deepest sympathy.
The Class of 1952
WALTER JOE WILSON ’52
Joe died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease April 25, 2006, at Hudson Memorial Nursing Home in EI Dorado, Ark. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1993.
Joe’s devotion to EI Dorado was such that his local obituary cited three staff members who cared for him in the nursing home.
After a year at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., Joe entered Princeton, where he majored in economics, belonged to Dial Lodge, and was active in the Wesley Foundation. He served four years in the Navy, separating as lieutenant junior grade. During this time he married Johnette Jackson, and they had Joe Jr.
Joe then entered Harvard Business School and received his MBA in 1958. Returning to EI Dorado, he started a retail business with his father, while he and Johnette became community leaders active in Little Theatre, Junior League, and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, where Johnette was organist. Joe sold their two stores in 1991 and retired.
In our 50th book, writing about his Alzheimer’s, Joe gave tribute to Johnette, saying, “I can’t do much with figures, and . . . with facts I’m glad to have Johnette there to back me up.”
Joe is survived by Johnette; their six children; a sister; 15 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. To them all, the class sends its sympathy.
The Class of 1952
ROGER C. PORR ’55
Roger died Sept. 1, 2007, at home in Trumbull, Conn. He came to Princeton from Bogota (N.J.) High School on a Cane Scholarship. Majoring in psychology, he played an active role in the Student Christian Association, Theatre Intime, and WPRU. Roger was a member of Dial.
As psychology graduate students at Yale, Roger and Sandy Dunn met and married. After teaching psychology for a few years at Grinnell College in Iowa, they returned to Trumbull. Roger held various positions with Yale-New Haven Hospital and West Haven VA Hospital and kept a private practice.
After a serious illness in the early ’70s, Roger was forced to retire from full-time work and his life changed drastically during that time.
Roger said, “My search for the meaning of life had ended,” and he received Jesus Christ into his life as Savior and Lord. A lightly fictionalized spiritual autobiography, Snake in the Grass, describes that change. For the rest of his life Roger was an avid student of the Bible and taught Bible study in church, Sunday school, and informally to family and friends.
To Sandy, his wife of 50 years; his sons, Clay ’82 and Gregor ’85; and the entire Porr family; the class extends deepest sympathy.
The Class of 1955
Gary David Levey ’56
Gary David Levey died Dec. 31, 2007, of pancreatic cancer in Naples, Fla.
He was born in Winthrop, Mass., and came to Princeton from Winthrop High School. He majored in mechanical engineering, played intercollegiate football, and was a member of Terrace Club.
After graduation, Gary served as engineering officer of the destroyer USS Laffey, which deployed to the Persian Gulf. Returning to Boston, he received an MBA from Northeastern University.
He was employed by Bethlehem Steel, Texas Instruments, and Polaroid Corp., where he held positions in engineering and manufacturing. After retiring in 1995, he divided his time between Wellesley, Mass., and Naples, Fla. He golfed at Wellesley Country Club and Pelican Marsh Golf Club, and, in his later years, became an accomplished sculptor.
He is survived by Elaine, his wife of 48 years; his daughter, Katherine Levey; his son, John Levey ’83; and two granddaughters, Sara and Jessica Levey. The class extends deep sympathy to them all.
The Class of 1956
George Thomas Riggs ’59
Tom was struck by a police cruiser Sept. 24, 2007, while crossing Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, D.C. He was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where he died three weeks later, on Oct. 15.
Tom was born into an Army family at West Point, N.Y. His ancestors included four military academy graduates, three of whom were general officers. Graduating at the top of his class from Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, Tom fenced and ran track with the freshmen at Princeton, headed Key and Seal’s I.A.A. program as a senior, and graduated with honors in history.
Following graduation Tom earned a master’s in history from the University of Illinois, where he also completed requirements for a Ph.D. in history. He entered the Army in 1963 and served two years as a military-intelligence officer, being decorated for service in Vietnam. Then followed service as an analyst at the State Department’s Latin American desk, and careers in classified research, teaching, antique sales, and consulting.
Tom was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Our classmate, the Rev. Kent Smith, co-celebrated a requiem eucharist, with Jon Rickert as a reader. Both had been roommates of Tom’s at Princeton.
Tom never married. He is survived by two brothers, two nieces, and two nephews.
The Class of 1959
DANA MICHAEL FRIEDMAN ’60
Dana died Dec. 27, 2007, after a one-year struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
The only child of Dr. Sumner H. Friedman and Ruth Faitsch, Dana was born in Ben-
nington, Vt., and came to Princeton from Camp Hill High School, where he excelled in football and threw hammer, discus, and shot, activities he continued at Princeton. In our junior and senior years he roomed in Henry Tower with John Gregory, Peter Harwood, Bud Ingmand, David Jones, and David Wag-
staff. He took meals at Tiger Inn, majored in economics, and graduated with high honors and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
He obtained a law degree from Harvard and practiced law for Alcoa in Pittsburgh and for four years in Switzerland. After retiring in 1992, Dana returned to Vermont, where he rehabbed a historic country inn for private use, carried out pro bono community law, and was active in power weightlifting.
One week following our 45th reunion he again met Peggy Trace, a childhood neighbor. Peggy and Dana married in 2007. Peggy survives him, as do two daughters from his first marriage, Jennifer L. Bailey and Sarah M. Brennan, and his son, Dana H. The class extends sincere sympathy to his family and friends.
The Class of 1960
Harry Poole ’62
Harry Poole III died Dec. 10, 2007, having suffered a stroke 10 years ago.
He graduated from Choate and entered Princeton with the Class of 1958. He took leave and entered the military, studying Russian at the Monterey Language Center. He served in West Germany as an interpreter in the late 1950s and joined our class in 1960. He majored in Romance languages and dined at Key and Seal.
After graduation Harry worked in New York City and San Francisco before heading to Aspen for five years. There he owned a restaurant and skied. He then earned an MBA from Georgia State University and joined Citizens and Southern Bank in 1970, specializing in employee benefits until his retirement in 1992.
With an avid interest in hunting, fishing, and skeet, Harry became a founding member of Millrock Gun Club. After losing his sight in one eye after his stroke, Harry kept reading and solving The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles. He built a library of 1,000 books at his vacation home on Lake Nottley, Ga., intense as ever in his interests.
The class extends its condolences to his widow, Mabel Youmans Poole, and to his children, Harry Poole IV and Adrian Poole Bennett.
The Class of 1962
Cynthia E. Bashford Davis ’79
Cindy died April 12, 2007, at her home, surrounded by her family, following a courageous two-and-half-year battle with breast cancer.
Her sense of humor and sensitivity to others shone through to the end. Cindy was a devoted and beloved wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. She will be sorely missed.
At Princeton, Cindy majored in chemical engineering, was an active member of the Glee Club, and was one of the first members of a rejuvenated Cloister Inn.
It was through the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship (PEF) that she found true direction in her life as a committed Christian. It also was through PEF that Cindy met her future husband, Jim Davis ’80, but it was time at Cloister that started them on the path to lifelong love.
After graduation, Cindy was employed as a chemical engineer with DuPont before taking on the role of mother and, later, home-school teacher. She was active in her church and the school attended by several of her children.
Cindy is survived by Jim; their sons, Andrew, Timothy, and Christopher; their daughters, Gwen and Ellen; her parents, Raymond and Alice Bashford; and her sister, Carol Douglass.
The class extends its sincere condolences to her entire family.
The Class of 1979
Houston Flournoy *56
Houston Flournoy, a political-science professor who spent 14 years in California state politics, died Jan. 7, 2008, of heart failure. He was 78.
A graduate of Cornell, Flournoy earned a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton in 1956. In 1957, he moved to Pomona College and quickly earned tenure. In 1960, he successfully ran for the California state assembly. At the end of his second term, Flournoy entered the 1966 race for state controller and beat the Democratic incumbent Alan Cranston, who then became a longtime U.S. senator.
Flournoy was the unlikely winner of the Republican primary for governor in 1974, and then lost to the Democratic candidate, Jerry Brown. Brown beat Flournoy by approximately 50 percent to 48 percent of the vote. The election occurred during the Watergate scandal and Brown repeatedly likened Flournoy (a moderate Republican in the tradition of former Gov. Earl Warren) to former President Nixon and sitting Gov. Reagan. President Ford’s pardon of Nixon only weeks before the election hurt Flournoy.
Flournoy then joined the USC faculty, and remained for more than two decades as a professor of public administration.
Flournoy is survived by three children and two grandchildren.
Rex D. Davis *66
Rex D. Davis, former director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) who started out by arresting “moonshiners,” died Jan. 7, 2008, of complications from an infection. He was 83.
Joining the Army Air Force after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Davis was a bombardier, flew 33 combat missions, and received a Purple Heart.
After receiving a law degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1949, he became a “revenuer” — raiding stills and busting barrels of illegal alcohol.
In 1970, Davis became director of the ATF, which was then upgraded from a division of the Internal Revenue Service to an independent bureau within the Treasury Department. According to The Washington Post, “Davis turned ATF into the country’s chief investigator of political terrorists and organized criminals in the booze business.”
Davis was a 1965-66 visiting student at the Woodrow Wilson School. Retiring from government in 1978, he went on to head three trade associations in the alcoholic-beverages industry. He was a strong supporter of the Brady campaign against gun violence.
Davis is survived by his wife of 29 years, Amelia, and two daughters from his first marriage, which ended in divorce.