Davis, who has chaired Award Committee for 10 years, came to the annual Person of the Year luncheon prepared to give the award posthumously to his longtime friend and associate Mark Marin, headmaster at Antilles School for 22 years. Marin died unexpectedly last June.
In fact, Davis had casually mentioned at last week's Rotary II meeting that this year's award was "unprecedented." It has never been given posthumously.
Davis, affectionately called "Mac" by almost everyone who knows him, was visibly shaken and obviously surprised as he accepted the physical award — a statue of Don Quixote — from his committee co-chair, Chris Brathwaite. It was Brathwaite who gave the award speech, a responsibility which usually has fallen to Davis.
"Now I know how previous years' recipients felt," Davis said as he reached the lectern.
"I am a man who is richly blessed," Davis, a cancer survivor, said while acknowledging his wife, Debbie Kreke Davis, as the backbone of his life. "Every socially redeeming quality that I have is because of her," he said, adding, "She believed in me."
In introducing the yet-to-be-named honoree, Brathwaite first spoke of Marin, saying that "almost one year ago, the Rotary organization and the community lost a man of vision. The young people of St. Thomas lost an educator, the club lost a friend and the community lost a leader and builder."
Brathwaite called for a 15-second moment of silence in Marin's memory. Then he began to lay the verbal groundwork for announcement of the actual recipient.
"When one leaves this Earth," he said, "others must carry on the task started. Sometimes the person who must spearhead the effort of replacing the deceased individual is saddled with other responsibilities. But, nevertheless, he or she steps up to the plate and says, 'Yes I will. I will carry the torch.'"
Davis is the president of the Board of Trustees at Antilles School.
As is annually the case, as the presenter went on speaking, the light dawned on Davis's face as he realized who Brathwaite was talking about.
When his turn came, Davis spoke of his 18-year relationship with Marin, which began when Davis was looking for a school for his then-3-year-old son, who is now 21 and a student at Brown University.
With the recent completion of the sports center named for Marin and built in part with a $1 million donation from Randy Knight, another Person of the Year honoree, "Our dreams have come through for Antilles School," Davis said..
He said his brush with cancer had caused him to "confront my own mortality" and "appreciate life."
He added, "This is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. My heart is full of thanks."
A runner who recently completed his first two marathons, Davis said, "I've just hit my speed."
Along with being president of the Antilles Board of Trustees, Davis also is the school PTA president, a member of the V.I. Bar Association and the American Bar Association, and the recently appointed solicitor general of the Virgin Islands.
For the full text of Brathwaite's speech, click here.