Oct. 2, 1927 — July 28, 2018
The Davis Bulletin Co., started 99 years ago by the grandfather of Harlow M. Davis Jr., was based on a vaudeville innovation.
The "annunciator" invented by Albert K. Davis was a mechanical device that displayed placards listing the name of the performer coming onstage. The annunciator replaced showgirls who had carried the identifying placards to an easel on stage.
"We joke about it being the first Power Point," said Alan Davis, a son of Harlow Davis Jr. who, with his brother, is the fourth of five generations to work in the family business, now Tapecon, which manufactures specialty printing products for the industrial, electronic and medical markets.
That keen sense of innovation continued through the years. And from 1960, when he took over as president, until 1990, Harlow M. Davis Jr. was at the helm. He also became known as a tireless Buffalo booster.
Mr. Davis, 90, died July 28, 2018, in Elderwood in Cheektowaga after a long battle with dementia.
Mr. Davis was born in Buffalo on Oct. 2, 1927, the son of Harlow M. Sr., and Emily Yoder Davis, who was an organist and choir director at Lafayette Presbyterian Church and a piano teacher.
He graduated from Bennett High School in 1945 and attended Rutgers University for one year in the pre-engineering program before enlisting in the Army. For a year, he served with the 583rd Engineer Construction Group as an architectural inspector in post-war Japan post-war occupation for a year.
After his honorable discharge in 1947, Mr. Davis went to work in the family business. The Davis Bulletin Co. was founded at 10 Lock St., a former street north of Erie Street near The Terrace. In 1949, displaced by the construction of the I-190, the company became one of the first tenants in the Larkin Center of Commerce, where it remains today.
On Jan. 27, 1951, he married Barbara Hout in Lafayette Presbyterian Church. They moved to Elma in 1958 and became active in many community organizations. After years of service with the Buffalo Junior Chamber of Commerce, or Jaycees, Mr. Davis received the JCI Senatorship Award, which goes to members with outstanding records when they reach the Jaycees’ compulsory retirement age of 36.
As president of Davis Bulletin Co., Mr. Davis is credited with building the business relationships that led to a merger with Tapecon Inc. in 1970. In 1983, he was elected chairman of Tapecon Inc.
Through the World Hospitality Organization of Buffalo, Mr. Davis and his wife opened their home to visitors from many nations, to whom he showed off the high points of Buffalo and Niagara Falls. They also were host parents for a year for three American Field Service students from Micronesia, Uganda and Sweden, but welcomed everyone from visiting dignitaries for a dinner to international students from the University at Buffalo for several weeks during holidays, when the dorms were closed.
"They were the biggest Buffalo promoters you could imagine," said Alan Davis. "They were history buffs, too."
"They were both super-proud of Buffalo and were premier tour guides, because they knew so much about the area," said their daughter, Cindy Turcot. "My dad would get mad at people for dissing Buffalo when it was such a great place."
Mr. Davis was a past president of the Elma Young Republican Club and also served as an Elma town committeeman. He was past president of the Buffalo Club of Printing House Craftsmen, the Java Lake Colony and the Gyro Club of Buffalo.
He was a longtime member of First Presbyterian Church of East Aurora and of the Sitzmarker/Buffalo Ski Club, which he joined in 1954. He graduated from the UB Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in 1991.
He had many hobbies and interests, including travel, skiing, sailing and bridge; he was active in bridge clubs in Buffalo and East Aurora for many years. He was an avid Buffalo Bills fan.
Mr. and Mrs. Davis loved socializing and hosting parties and were known for corn fritters and campfire songs at the family cabin in Java Lake, which they bought in 1953. They also supported many cultural institutions, including the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Landmark Society, the Darwin Martin House and local theater.
"They had a large circle of friends, and all the international guests they hosted became friends, too," said Alan Davis. "You look at their visitors log book and it goes on and on."
In 1998, the Davises moved to Admirals Walk downtown and joined Westminster Presbyterian Church.
After 55 years of marriage, Mrs. Davis died on June 15, 2006. Mr. Davis is survived by his two sons, Keith and Alan, and daughter Cindy Turcot; 12 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 7, in the Chapel at Forest Lawn, 1411 Delaware Ave.