William ‘Bill’ Ames Davis, Jr. – Obituary

By  | May 13, 2017 | Filed under: Laughlin Service Funeral Home, Obituaries

 Dr. William ‘Bill’ Ames Davis, Jr. passed away May 4th at the Floyd E. ‘Tut’ Fann State Veterans Home in Huntsville, AL at the age of 89. He was preceded in death by his parents, Era Pearl ‘Peggy’ Davis and William Ames Davis, Sr.; his wife, Bernice Janene Noffsinger; brother, Richard Norfleet Davis; daughter, Janet Sue McArthur, half- brother, William E. Satterfield; and sister-in-law, Miki Cooke Davis.

He is survived by his wife, Ann Terrell Davis of Guntersville (formerly of Huntsville);  children, Virginia Lane Pappafotis (Joe Chittaphong)  Smyrna, TN, and William ‘Bill’ Ames Davis III, (Dawn) Brentwood, TN; stepdaughters, Sarah Latham (Isaac  Davis, Jr.)  Huntsville, AL,  Ann ‘Amy’ Latham (Mike Ford) Huntsville, AL; grandchildren,  Nathan Penland, (Lori) Azle, TX,  Holly Penland Clark (Bryant), New Orleans,  LA, Christina Pappafotis, Lewisburg, TN, Jason Michael Pappafotis (Stacie) Madison, AL, and Tara Brooke Davis, Brentwood TN;  step grandchildren, Joseph “Joey” Drake Latham, Huntsville, AL, and Kristen Gama (Ruben), Smyrna, TN; and great-grandchildren,  Suzannah Penland, Azle, TX, Cameron Bogle, Lewisburg, TN,  Justice Bogle, Lewisburg, TN,  Sophia,  Olivia, and Stella  Pappafotis, all of Madison, AL, and Ruben Gama, Smyrna, TN.

Bill was born in Sebring, FL., and graduated from East Nashville High School in 1945. After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army and served as a Staff Sgt. with the Signal Corps under Gen MacArthur during the occupation of Japan.  He was promoted to 2nd Lt., but chose to return to Nashville and continue his education. He enrolled at Vanderbilt and graduated with a BS Degree from the School of Engineering in 1950. He was a member of the Fred J. Lewis Society at Vanderbilt and served on The Committee of Visitors Board. After completing his education, he married Janene Noffsinger and accepted a job as a test engineer at the Charleston Naval Shipyard.  Four years later, they moved to Huntsville, AL where he began his career working with the fledgling missile defense industry.

Bill was a distinguished leader in Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) for the United States Army at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Al. Davis was an inaugural member of The United States Senior Executive Service (SES) and recipient of numerous accolades and awards from the Army including the Meritorious Civilian Service Award (1980) and the Department of the Army Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service (1982).  Davis served most notably as Director of the U. S. Army Advanced Ballistic Missile Defense Agency (ABMDA) from 1967-1971,  Director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Advanced Technology Center (BMDATC) from 1971-1977,  The Deputy Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program Manager (SES, Senior civilian for U. S. Army BMD programs and management of Kwajalein Missile Range) from 1977-1982, and: after retiring from civilian service; Vice-President of Space Defense at Teledyne Brown Engineering from 1982-1986.  Davis holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree and Distinguished Alumnus from Vanderbilt School of Engineering, a Sloan Fellowship leading to a Master of Science degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and an honorary PhD from the Southeastern Institute of Technology.  Dr. Davis is featured on the Air, Space and Missile Defense Association Wall on Honor at the U. S. Space & Rocket Center. Davis continued to serve as an esteemed independent consultant until the early 2010s when he began suffering from the advanced stage effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Ann and Bill enjoyed boating on Lake Guntersville, family vacations, and just spending time with all who loved to share the joy of life. We should mention that the last Vanderbilt bowl game was the ONLY ONE he missed in history!

Bill will be remembered as a man who loved his family, friends and country with great passion.   He was gifted in many ways.  He was an engineer, artist, actor (or ham), story teller, dancer, singer, and orator (and could make faces better than Jim Carey!).  He loved to play pranks on unsuspecting people and he thoroughly enjoyed being the target for slings and arrows thrown his way. Those who knew him, loved to be the beneficiary of his smile.

Visitation will be from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 20, 2017 at Laughlin Service Funeral Home. The memorial service will follow in the chapel with David Edwards and the Rev. Gerald Noffsinger officiating.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to The Floyd E. ‘Tut’ Fann State Veterans Home, Alzheimer’s Association or Vanderbilt School of Engineering.

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