County Republicans lose cherished leader

Portsmouth Daily Times

January 2, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

The man considered by many Republican party faithful in Scioto County as Mr. Republican has died. Long time educator Sylvan Davis, 92, of Galena Pike, West Portsmouth, died Wednesday at Bridgeport Healthcare in Portsmouth.

A 1939 graduate of Portsmouth High School, he received his MA degree from Ohio University, Athens in 1947. His first teaching job was at the former Nauvoo Grade School in 1941. He then taught at Washington High School in the 1950s and was the first principal of the George F. Jenkins Elementary School when it was dedicated in 1958 and he served there until his retirement in 1978.

Always active in civic affairs, he formed the Nauvoo Water League in 1957 which extended city water to the back part of West Portsmouth; and served 48 years as secretary of the Washington Twp. Fireman Dependents Board of the Fire Department. During the late 1940s and early 1950s he was also co-owner of McDermott-Portsmouth Bus Lines. A lifetime member of the Oldtown United Methodist Church in West Portsmouth, he served in many capacities over the years and was a teacher for The Mixed M’s class for over 30 years.

Davis owned S.S. Davis Real Estate in West Portsmouth and had been a member of the Greater Portsmouth Area Board of Realtors since 1952.

A leader in the Scioto County Republican Party for over 60 years, he had been a member of the Scioto Republican Central Committee, Washington D, since 1946 and served as secretary of the Executive Committee for many years.

Since 1996 he had been Vice Chairman of the Scioto County Republican Party and, though having gone through a period of being ill over the last year, continued to be involved in party activities.

“I know this,” Scioto County Republican Party Communications co-chairman Bryan Davis said. “When he was so sick and he would miss meetings, he was so sorry, and so badly wanted to get back, and even right up to the presidential election, he had had that stroke and he was really wanting to get back really really bad, and was working toward that.”

Bryan Davis said Sylvan Davis was not just a member of the local party.

“He was very instrumental in decision-making in the party, and was well-loved and respected,” Davis said. “He always offered good advice and always worked very hard at election time. He worked his precinct very hard and was very well-respected there. It’s a great loss. It really is.”

Despite his age, Bryan Davis said Sylvan Davis left an indelible mark on Scioto County politics.

“Sylvan was amazing,” Davis said. “He was very important. He held the Committeeman’s office for 66 years, which we are pretty sure is the longest anyone has ever held a Committeeman’s job in the state of Ohio. When he came back from the war (World War II) in 1946 he signed up for the committee.”

Sylvan Davis left his mark on many different areas of community life.

“Sylvan had devoted his life to the community, which included teaching school, being a principal, and the Republican Party,” Scioto County Republican Party Co-Chairman Kay Reynolds said. “He was a very, very, very special person, and the community lost a great leader.”

Local party officials said the loss of Davis creates a hole in community.

“Everybody loved him and he’s going to be sorely missed,” Davis said. “He will be sorely missed and there will be very big shoes to fill.”

Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 at Oldtown United Methodist Church in West Portsmouth. Interment will follow at Scioto Burial Park. Graveside military rites will be provided by the American Legion Post No. 363 of Lucasville and Post No. 622 of Minford. Friends and relatives may call at Melcher Funeral Home in Portsmouth on Friday from 4-8 p.m. and again one hour before the service on Saturday at the church.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Oldtown United Methodist Church or Animal Welfare League of Scioto County.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at