Col. Forrest Leon Davis, USAF (Ret’d.)
Forrest Leon “Lee” Davis, 97, of Tiffin, Ohio, passed away on Tuesday, November 10th, 2020. He was preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Patricia Ann (Kelly), and a daughter, Kerry Kathleen (Schaade); and is survived by his children Kelly Davis, F. Lance (Cindy) Davis, Matt (Mary) Davis, B. Mark (Patty) Davis, Chris (Barb) Davis, Lincoln (Diane) Davis, son-in-law Kevin Schaade, grandchildren Heath Davis, Jennifer Porter, Brett Davis, Casey Stevens, Alex Strasser, Lindsay Roberts, Bryan Davis, Andrew Schaade, Matthew Schaade, Marissa Davis, Benjamin Davis, Logan Davis, and 14 ½ great-grandchildren.
Lee was born on August 29, 1923 in Altamont, Kansas to Ida Opal (Williams) and Forrest Leroy Davis. With his brothers James and Ross, and his sister Frances, Lee grew up on a tiny farm and reveled in the small-town life, excelling at all sports and graduating in 1941 as the Valedictorian of his class at Montezuma High School. He enrolled at Kansas University with a dream of becoming a doctor. Fate intervened however, and when his country needed him, he answered the call, enlisting in the Army Air Corps in December 1941. He quickly completed Flight training, and began familiarizing himself with various aircraft. At the age of 21, he was now piloting C-47’s over the Hump in the China-Burma-India Theater, now responsible for the lives of a crew that were all considerably older than him. Flying under Call Sign “Rascal One”, Lee flew over 350 missions in 13 months and logged over 1000 combat hours, over and around the Himalayan Mountains, through impenetrable jungle and enemy-filled valleys, delivering supplies to the Allied Ground Forces.
The war eventually ended and Lee returned to Kansas University, where he met and married the true love of his life, Patty Kelly. Children, and a job in Business Equipment sales, seemed to portend a quiet life of domestic tranquility – and then the Korean Conflict began, and Lee was called back to Active Military Duty and stationed in Germany. Now flying C-119’s, Lee completed missions across all of Europe as well as Greece, North Africa, Norway, and Denmark. The thrill of flying and the honor of service to his country were now in his blood, and Lee decided to make a career in the Air Force. More aircraft, more military assignments, more travel, and more children were to follow…
In 1969, Lee was assigned to be Commander of an Airlift Control Center in Bien Hoa, Vietnam. He completed a one-year Tour of Duty and was promoted to Colonel before returning stateside. His final Air Force assignment took him to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where he later retired in 1976 as Director of Operations, after more than 34 years of decorated and distinguished military service. In the course of his military career, Lee fought in 3 wars, flew 36 different aircraft, and was awarded 4 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 3 Bronze Stars, the Meritorious Service Medal, numerous Air Medals, and many other commendations. His military travels literally took him across the entire world, including duty assignments in Munich, Germany; Goose Bay, Labrador; and the Philippine Islands; in addition to a dozen stateside locales.
Retirement proved to be short-lived, however, and in 1977 Lee and Patty moved to Tiffin, where he became the Personnel Director for Tiffin Mental Health/Mental Retardation Center. In 1987, Lee ‘officially’ retired to a comfortable life with Patty as doting grandparents. Still, he continued to find ways to serve his community through leadership positions with the Hospice Board, United Way, Rotary Club, V.F.W., and the Order of Daedalians; and he was a faithful member of the 1st Presbyterian Church of Tiffin.
An avid sports fan, Lee closely followed Kansas basketball, Ohio State football, and St. Louis Cardinals baseball, meticulously charting rosters, schedules, and results right up until his passing. However, he found his greatest joy in the sporting and academic achievements of his children and grandchildren, attending every possible event and offering unceasing encouragement and support. He was very proud of his family, and his family was very proud of him.
Lee spent the final two years of his life as a resident of Seneca House, in Tiffin. The family would like to thank the staff of Seneca House for the care and compassion they showed our father, particularly the Nursing Staff. Lee was especially fond of Gladys Garcia, who often provided his primary care.
Per his wishes, there will be no public service or visitation. A graveside ceremony is planned for the Spring at the National Veteran’s Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial contributions may be made to Seneca House or Heartland Hospice. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.shookfamilyfh.com.
Even as we mourn his passing, we celebrate his remarkable life; and we take great comfort in knowing Lee is now reunited with his parents and siblings, his daughter Kerry, and his beloved wife Patty. His long life of honorable and faithful service now complete, Rascal One has slipped the surly bonds of Earth and once again dances the skies on laughter-silvered wings.