Entrepreneur Sharon Davis has been active in Omaha philanthropy, community organizations | Local News
Sharon Davis was a pioneering entrepreneur from Omaha who, along with her husband, Dick CE Davis, used her success to expand equal educational and economic opportunity for others.
She and her husband co-founded the Davis Companies, which gained national recognition for their work helping minority businesses grow and grow. Sharon Davis also co-chaired the Davis-Chambers Scholarship Fund, which helps students from diverse and disadvantaged communities in Nebraska attend colleges and universities in the state.
Davis died March 4 from complications related to breast cancer. She was 76 years old. The funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at Good News Church, 7415 Hickory St. in Omaha.
Well known in Omaha’s social and philanthropic circles and many community organizations, she has not forgotten where she came from. She was an inspiration and an example, said Dr Sheritta Strong, who received a Davis-Chambers fellowship at the UN and is now a psychiatrist and deputy vice chancellor of inclusion at the University Medical Center from Nebraska.
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Strong said Davis and her family have always been an inspiration to her and an example in the community.
“They give kids examples of people who have actually achieved their goals and built businesses, providing scholarships so kids can do the same,” Strong said. “They recognized the huge wealth gap in our community and the lack of resources that many students don’t have.”
Sharon Delores Davis was born on November 27, 1945 in South Omaha. His parents were John Clayton Rose and Juanita (Jackson) Rose. She graduated in 1964 from Omaha South High School.
Davis graduated from St. Joseph’s Hospital School of X-Ray Technology and worked as an X-ray technician. In 1968, she married Dick Davis, whom she had first met at her 9th birthday. birthday, then found himself back at home plate at Rosenblatt Stadium during a football game between Omaha Central and Omaha Tech. Sharon was a South High cheerleader at the time, and Dick was an Omaha North running back en route to playing football in Nebraska and the NFL before embarking on a career in business.
Sharon Davis worked for Eastern Airlines for several years, and later obtained an insurance license and co-founded and ran the Davis Companies, running the business until Dick Davis quit his job at Enron. She was still working behind the scenes, “still a partner”, said Dick Davis, but moved into formal management roles after the death of Dick’s brother Ricky, who started the family business in 1971.
The Company’s activities include insurance and risk management services, surety and technical services and consultancy to contractors, businesses and local governments. The United States Small Business Administration named Sharon and Dick Davis as the 2012 recipients of its Minority Small Business Champion Award.
Sharon Davis was inducted into the South High School Hall of Fame in 2000, honored with an African-American Leadership Award in 2006, and received the Governor’s Nebraskaland Trailblazer Award in 2010, among many other honors. She served as a Trustee of the University of Nebraska Foundation and Honorary President of the National Council of Negro Women, among other leadership roles in community organizations.
She and Dick Davis were co-chairs of the Davis-Chambers Scholarships, which now has a $5 million endowment and awarded $3 million in scholarships to 430 students from diverse and disadvantaged communities.
The program, named after the Davis family and former state senator Ernie Chambers, is funded by a combination of money from the Davis family, other donations and state dollars.
Strong, a Davis Scholar from 1995 to 1999 at the UN, said the scholarship “helped tremendously” by easing the burden of paying for college and providing emotional support. She befriended Sharon Davis at the annual Davis Scholars banquets, and the two exchanged Christmas cards each year. That includes a year, Strong said with a laugh, when she’d been too busy to pull out cards, but then received a card from Sharon Davis with a sweet reminder note about how much she looked forward to receiving a Strong’s card.
“There’s a ripple effect in the sense that their support that they’ve given me trickles down to the community,” Strong said. This allows her to help her patients and make UNMC a more inclusive place to work.
Dick Davis described Sharon as a gracious, generous, loving, caring, warm and kind woman of faith.
Besides her husband, survivors include her son, Dick CE Davis II of Atlanta, her daughter Shaynel Williams of Omaha, and her sisters Janice Miles of Omaha, Claudia Wright of Bellevue and Melanie Rose of La Vista.
Burial will be in Graceland Park Cemetery. The family requests that memorials or donations in lieu of flowers be sent to the Davis Scholarship Fund. Donations can be made through the Omaha Community Foundation.