“Uncle Tom,” as he affectionately became known, will be remembered by area ranchers for his quiet, easy going personality, his delight in a good herd of cattle and his fearless manner of working around cattle.
This is how Tom Davis and his wife, Sharon, describe his uncle, Thomas Davis, who passed away on Dec. 7, at Heartland Continuing Care Center in Portales.
Davis and his nephew, who was his namesake, partnered together in 1973 in ranching after Davis ranched with his brothers “without a contract and without a cross word.” This was preceded by Davis’s stint with the Bureau of Land Management in Albuquerque, prior to being drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II.
During his ranching years, Davis’s job in a branding pen was putting the brand in place.
“Although the cowboys were nervous about horses and dragging calves around him, Uncle Tom moved at his own pace, oblivious to the danger until he was 88 and his health began to fail,” Tom said of his late uncle.
Davis’s family and friends will also remember him as “a man who followed the Golden Rule.”
“He treated his neighbors exactly as he wanted to be treated,” Tom said.
He was happy living in Roosevelt County, arriving here in 1915, at age 5, with his parents, Mary Emily Howard Davis and Thomas Edward Davis, Sr., and his two brothers, Paul and Howard.
The family settled in the Eagle Hill community near Milnesand and began raising cattle. Davis held odd jobs in Elida, occasionally serving as the sheriff’s deputy. Following his graduation from Elida High School, he graduated from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces in 1934 with a degree in range science.
During his ranching career, he served on the Border Soil and Water Conservation Board and was a member of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association.
A family friend, Matt Rush, used I Thessalonians 4:11-12 to sum up the life of “Uncle Tom,” saying, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
Tom added: “This verse is perfect advice from the Lord, a great tribute to a fine person, and a remaining message to those who loved Tom. This verse will be used by the Davis family when we remember Uncle Tom.”
Tom and Sharon said their favorite memories of Uncle Tom include holidays they shared with him.
“His gift to the men would always be a new Pendleton shirt and one for himself, but the whole family would wait with a smile to see what he would get for Micah (his great-niece), since he knew so little about girls.”
“The surprise was always wonderful, including a doll that spoke Spanish, chocolate candy and a wonderful jewelry box,” Tom said.