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Bethune Chief Davis dies Tuesday

Posted: March 13, 2012 3:56 p.m.
Updated: March 14, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Just weeks after learning their police chief was battling esophageal cancer, citizens of Bethune learned he had lost the fight. Larry Davis, 58, died Tuesday, according to longtime friend Don Witham. He said Davis passed away at his home at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Witham said Davis was very well liked throughout the community.

“He was always willing to help people, especially when they were in a bind,” Witham said. “We’re missing a good man.”   

Davis retired as Bethune’s police chief and only officer just three weeks ago after learning of his illness.

Jackie Knight, who knew Davis for nearly four decades, said he heard a number of stories that illustrated his friend’s strong character. One in particular involved a couple in Bethune who saw a homeless person in town who was trying to make his way to New York.

Knight said the couple saw the man making a shelter near their home, but felt he was likely just stopping nearby to rest for the night.  

“They called Larry the next morning and he went by to check on him. He talked with him a little bit and carried him over to McBee to the Huddle House and bought him breakfast,” Knight said. “He then asked the Chesterfield County officers if they’d make sure he got through there OK.”

Knight noted that several other similar incidents took place in the community, which showed Davis’ very giving nature.

“He was always willing to help and impacted so many different lives,” Knight said.

A gospel singing in Davis’ honor will be held at Bethune Baptist Church at 7 p.m. March 23. A love offering will be accepted to benefit his family.

Family and friends had gathered at the Bethune Woman’s Club Friday for a benefit for Davis and his family, raising some $33,000 in his honor. Elgin Police Chief Harold Brown, another of Davis’ friends, said the amount of money raised at the event showed the strong level of Davis’ character.

“That’s unbelievable for a small town or really any town to do something like that. He was obviously loved by a lot of people,” Brown said. “Everywhere he went he made friends.”

Davis served Bethune as police chief for a decade, which according to Brown is much longer than the average career of a small town policeman.

“For an officer to survive in a small town for 10 years like he did, that says volumes for him. That just doesn’t happen,” Brown said. “He went well above that.”

He said they became close friends during that 10-year period.

“We came from basically the same sized towns, had the same problems. We helped each other out a lot.”  

Brown echoed Knight’s and Witham’s sentiments about Davis and noted he always took the time to care for others.

“He actually called me two weeks ago worrying about my back even in the shape he was in. That’s the kind of person he was,” Brown said. “He was a really good friend.”

Camden Police Chief Joe Floyd said Davis had a relationship within his community that police departments across the country wish they could possess.

“He was never heavy handed. He looked after people. He knew everybody and everybody knew him,” Floyd said.  

Davis retired from DuPont and became police chief in 2002. He also served as an emergency technician for nearly 20 years and with the Bethune Fire Department for 30 years, including 22 as chief.

He was a lifelong resident of Bethune with three children and four grandchildren.


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