Lawrence James Davis was born, in Philadelphia, on December 31, 1950. He was the third of 10 children born to Cecelia and Joseph Davis.
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Lonnie, as he was called, lived a full and happy life and was a devoted father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin and friend. Blessed with a kind and gentle disposition, Lonnie was loved and admired by his large family and many friends. He was a happy and healthy “people-person,” right up until his untimely death, February 14, 2019.
Lonnie loved life and was always a giver. He gave of his time and resources to others in need, whether he knew them or not. He could always be counted on to deliver a kind word, a sweet snack or a funny joke. He also crafted beautiful, handmade jewelry that he generously gifted to his circle of family and friends.
Lonnie started school at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic School. He was baptized at the affiliated church and served as an altar boy, helping the priests perform mass and other rituals. It was there that he began his lifelong search for knowledge of the spiritual universe. He later attended the Stevens and Harrington elementary schools, Shaw Jr. High and Bartram High School, graduating in 1968.
After his formal education, Lonnie continued his quest for knowledge. He was an avid reader and learner. He ate a primarily plant-based diet and fasted once a week for more than 30 years. In his last few years, he studied massage therapy and healing with herbal medicines.
Lonnie’s choice to be buried at sea was a testament to his love and appreciation of the environment and his desire to be a good steward of the natural world. He was a peaceful and spiritual man who sought to live in harmony with man and nature. He chose to be recycled directly into the natural world.
Lonnie pursued many avenues of employment. His jobs were almost too numerous to list. Most were consistent with his desire to serve and interact with people. Among other things, he managed a movie theater and a video game arcade, he owned and operated a newsstand, and he served for many years as a lifeguard and pool manager. His longest stints of employment included the Keebler Baking Company and the Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO), where he worked as a Work Process Clerk, for 28 years, before his retirement, in 2011.
After family, Lonnie’s two greatest loves were music and sports. An accomplished drummer and percussionist, he played hand and trap drums, with multiple ensembles, for many years. In addition to organized performances at the Wall cultural center and other venues, Lonnie was a frequent player at spontaneous jam sessions at homes, parks and street festivals, such as Odunde. He loved live concerts and recorded music of every genre, from jazz and blues, to R&B, rock and folk.
Philadelphia sports teams had no bigger fan than Lonnie Davis. He faithfully rooted for the Eagles, Sixers, Phillies and Flyers, whether they won or lost. The Eagles’ 2018 Super Bowl win was one of the happiest moments of his life. For nearly 55 years, he rarely, if ever, missed a Penn Relays.
He was rarely seen without a camera and he enjoyed photographing and videotaping family, friends, family events, concerts and excursions.
Lonnie participated in multiple sports, at Shaw, Bartram and Philadelphia recreation centers. His favorites were swimming, softball, baseball, basketball and track and field. At Bartram, he was a member of the cross country and track and field teams. His events including long distance running and the pole vault.
0A natural leader and a fierce competitor, Lonnie was often a team captain and one of the team’s top performers. In cross country, he was consistently in the lead pack.
Among his extracurricular activities, Lonnie was a member of Bartram’s Varsity Club, an exclusive club for members of varsity sports team. He proudly and frequently wore his letterman sweater, emblazoned with the Bartram “B” for his years of accomplishment.
Outside of school, Lonnie played on church, recreation and Police Athletic League teams. For years, he participated in work-related intramural and co-ed leagues, especially at PECO. He often served as the team captain, referee, umpire, organizer, manager, or player-coach. Sometimes he supplied and maintained the equipment, as well.
A strong and steady swimmer, Lonnie swam on the Sherwood Recreation swim team and was a head lifeguard at several city pools. He later won multiple medals for swimming in the Senior Olympic Games.
When he wasn’t playing himself, Lonnie coached in City of Philadelphia and Washington Township (NJ) youth sports leagues, especially any which included his son, Lon.
Lonnie was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers – James and Robert. He leaves to mourn, a daughter Danielle Davis Kramer, a son Lawrence Davis Jr. (Lon); the mothers of his children -- Michelle Morris and Lisa Branch, his siblings – Yusuf, Wadiya, Mumina, Kevin, Cheryl, Mark, Kyle and Charles; his grandchildren – Ariana, Austen and Evan who were the joy of his retirement life; a son-in-law Phil Kramer; dozens of nieces and nephews and scores of cousins and friends.