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HomeNewsLocal newsElliott 'Mac' Davis Fitness Trail an Active Monument to its Activist Namesake

Elliott ‘Mac’ Davis Fitness Trail an Active Monument to its Activist Namesake

One of the soon-to-be-open workout areas on the Davis fitness trail. (Source photo by Shaun A. Pennington)
One of the soon-to-be-open workout areas on the Davis fitness trail at Magens Bay. (Source photo by Shaun A. Pennington)

It did not take long after “Mac,” as he was known by everyone, died in September 2021 for his family to determine that they needed to somehow honor his lifelong love for and deep commitment to St. Thomas’ Magens Bay.

Elliott "Mac" Davis at the New York City Marathon. (Submitted photo)
Elliott “Mac” Davis at the New York City Marathon. (Submitted photo)

His wife of 44 years, Deborah Kreke Davis, known by everyone as “Debbie,” said recently, “As a semi-government agency, Magens Bay Authority cannot accept donations.” So, back to the drawing board they went.

A fund was established at the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands where people could make donations in honor of the departed Elliott McIver Davis and where the family could deposit its monetary contribution.

After several conversations with the MBA board, it was decided that the best way to acknowledge Mac’s enormous contributions to the park, which had been deeded to the people of the Virgin Islands in perpetuity by Arthur Fairchild in 1947, would be to create a fitness trail where locals and tourists alike could enhance their physical well-being while enjoying the beauty of one of the world’s 10 most beautiful beaches.

Mac was fully committed to physical fitness, along with being a marathon runner he also biked, worked out, paddle boarded and of course swam.

Following in her father’s footsteps, daughter Elizabeth Voigt, who ran the New York City half marathon in March, said earlier this month, “Exercise is good for the soul.” Elizabeth also ran half of the eight marathons that Mac completed with her father.

Mac’s namesake, Elliott McIver Davis Jr., hit the ground running recently, and first-born son Joseph is also a runner, completing his first marathon in October.

Granddaughters Stella and Clara Voigt enjoying the beach where Mac played with them. (Source photo by Shaun A. Pennington)
Granddaughters Stella and Clara Voigt enjoying the beach where Mac played with them. (Source photo by Shaun A. Pennington)

Early this month, hoping to be present for the dedication, two of his three children and three of his five grandchildren arrived on island, along with their significant others.

Elizabeth’s oldest daughter eight-year-old Clara was exceptionally close to her grandfather. “He used to dig big holes and bury me in the sand,” she said. The pair also shared happy times swimming together in the turquoise bay.

It was around the time that Clara and his oldest grandson Gresham were born that Mac – who spent two decades fighting back what he was told early on would be fatal kidney cancer – took up saying in emails and on Facebook, while holding one of his grandchildren in his arms, “To think I might have missed this.”

You might say he won his battle and his reward would be his time on the beach he loved.

Upon retirement from decades of service as an attorney working in various capacities for the Virgin Islands government, he could be found pretty much any day of the week from 2 p.m. on basking on the beach at the far southwestern end that he called his “happy place,” playing music — Alicia Keys in particular, according to son Elliott — and deeply appreciating the life that doctors told him he would never have.

Debbie Davis speaks about her husand's love of Magens Bay (Source photo by Shaun A. Pennington)
Debbie Davis speaks about her husand’s love of Magens Bay (Source photo by Shaun A. Pennington)

It must be noted that Mac also served on the board of the Magens Bay Authority for more than a decade. “The staff loved and respected him,” Debbie noted. And he loved them.

He was also deeply committed to leaving the beach managed in the way that Fairchild had envisioned. In December 2020, less than a year before he died, Davis penned a strongly worded op-ed piece that appeared in the Source and the V.I. Daily News, roundly criticizing a bill before the V.I. Legislature that sought to politicize the MBA board.

“I consider the sanctuaries of Magens Bay Park and Smith Bay Park to be two of the most precious resources we possess as Virgin Islanders… They hold a special spot in the heart of every Virgin Islander,” no one more than Mac.

So, it will be with gratitude and love that — especially those of us who knew him well — we will utilize the fitness trail that bears his name while holding him in our hearts — which should be pumping wildly by the time we finish working out.

Elliott McIver Davis endured two decades of cancer treatments which gave him 19 years he thought he would never have. He beat the cancer only to be taken down at the age of 70 by vascular disease.

But, as Debbie put it while enjoying the company of her children and grandchildren not far from Mac’s “happy place,” we will “always feel his presence on this beach.”

The end of the day near Mac's "happy place." (Source photo by Shaun A. Pennington)
The end of the day near Mac’s “happy place.” (Source photo by Shaun A. Pennington)
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