Walter Lee Davis Jr

November 10, 1942 ~ January 3, 2020

Born in: Memphis, Tennessee
Resided in: Johnson City, Tennessee

Lee Davis went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Friday, January 3, 2020, following complications from a form of Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS). He will be remembered for his kindness, generosity, selfless service, legal acumen, thirst for knowledge, love of history, sense of humor (including the story about his “Texas Ranger” belt buckle) and passion for roadsters (especially Mazda Miatas, of which he owned two). A long-time resident of Johnson City, the 77-year old was born in Memphis, TN.

Lee was an active member of Central Church of Christ in Johnson City. He also was active in the community, including as a long-time member of the Rotary Club of Johnson City (where he served as a Director and President) and a former member of the Rotary Club of Mountain City, TN (where he served as President), the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce, and the Johnson City Regional Planning Commission (where he served as Chairman). He was involved in the ETSU Foundation (Director), Boy Scouts of America (Sequoyah Council and Troop 78), Tipton-Haynes Historical Association (Director), Johnson City Medical Center Hospital Foundation (Director), and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Lee was life-long learner who studied accounting and real estate at Memphis State University (B.B.A. Cum Laude 1964) and then attended law school at Vanderbilt University (J.D. 1967) on academic scholarship. He was an attorney, certified public accountant, real estate broker and certified specialist in estate law. In retirement, he attended auto mechanic school, in part so he could work on his Miatas.

Lee was an avid professional. After stints with a “Big 8” accounting firm and a publicly-owned real estate developer, Lee entered the private practice of law in 1974 in Mountain City, TN. In 1978, he moved his practice to Johnson City, where he practiced in various capacities until his retirement from Hunter, Smith & Davis in 2014. His practice focused on estate planning and probate, real estate, and business and tax matters. He was active in the American, Tennessee, and Washington County Bar Associations, the Tri-Cities Estate Planning Council (where he served as President), and the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils (where he served as a Director, Secretary, and President).

Lee will be remembered by his loving wife of 53 years, Carla (nee Gates); sons, Tripp of Alpharetta, GA, and Jeff (Gretchen) of Arlington, VA; daughter, Ginger Anderson of Brentwood, TN; and four grandchildren, Sierra Anderson, and Coleman, Caleb and Naomi Davis. He also will be remembered by his sister, Kay Finley of Lavaca, AR; his brother, Bill Davis of Memphis, TN; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and extended family. He was preceded in death by his mother, Kathryn Bell Davis; his father, Walter Lee Davis; and his sister, Linda Dulin.

Lee was extremely accomplished and received numerous awards, honors and accolades during his lifetime. However, he remained humble and did not want be the center of attention. Accordingly, at his request, there will not be a funeral service, although it is certain that many will celebrate Lee’s life. Memorial donations may be made to Central Church of Christ in Johnson City, TN, The Rotary Foundation, or The MDS Foundation, Inc.


The family greatly appreciates donations made to these charities in Walter Lee Davis's name.

Central Church of Christ

2722 E. Oakland Ave
Johnson City , TN

The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International

1560 Sherman Ave
Evanston, IL

The MDS Foundation, Inc

4573 South Broad St., Suite 150
Yardville, NJ

Memories Timeline


  1. Our deepest condolences.
    Will and Lori Bishop, Fellow Rotarians

  2. Teresa Murray Smith says:

    Lee was a respected member of the Bar and shall be missed by all of his fellow attorneys.

  3. Tim Haywood says:

    Lee was a cherished friend. Always a kind word of encouragement. I felt like he was always rooting for my success. Until we meet again, my friend.

  4. Mark Mears says:

    When I was a new insurance agent Lee helped mentor me in the business community I will forever be thankful for his friendship–Mark Mears

  5. Larry and Joyce Owings says:

    We have fond memories of Lee from the years spent as neighbors. Our thoughts are with you Carla as are with the children and their families.,

  6. Jim Surface says:

    Lee was a good friend. He had many wonderful traits, especially his active mind. He will be missed.

  7. Kenneth Moffett says:

    Carla and family–
    We were sorry to learn of Lee’s illness and passing,
    but are thankful for his life and friendship. Know that you
    have been and continue to be in our thoughts are prayers.

    Ken & Judy Moffett

  8. Debbie Fogle says:

    Carla and family,
    You are in my thoughts and prayers at this time. I will always remember Walter’s kind words and smile whenever I saw him. Debbie Fogle

  9. Debbie Foster says:

    Much love and prayers for the family. Butch and I are thinking of you.

  10. Debbie Foster says:

    Carla, and family, so sorry to hear of Lee’s passing and illness.
    Butch and I will always remember the great times we had in the Miata club with you both!
    Prayers and thoughts during this difficult time.

  11. Lori Fatherree says:

    Carla and family, our deepest sympathy in our loss of Lee. He was a great friend. He was my sponsor for Rotary. He will be missed. Lori Fatherree

  12. Leo and Aletha Misenheimer says:

    Carla and family, Our thoughts and prayers to you during this difficult time. We are saddened to hear about Lee’s passing. We have many wonderful memories of you both with the Miata Club! Lee will be greatly missed. Aletha and Leo

  13. Leo and Aletha Misenheimer says:

    Carla and family, Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. We are so saddened to hear of Lee’s passing. We have many wonderful memories of you both with the Miata Club. Lee will be missed.

  14. Brenda McKinnis says:

    We are so sorry for your loss. Lee was a wonderful man. He was always willing to help those in need. He was so encouraging and interested in everyone. We will be praying for comfort for you and your family

    John and Brenda

  15. Hardie and Marion Lord says:

    Carla, there are no words to e press the
    Sadness we feel over the loss of Lee. We
    Will always remember him as a wonderful
    Friend that we never got to see enough of.
    We have missed him at the Miata club
    Meetings and road trips. Our love and sympathy
    Go out to you and your family


    Carla and family,

    Lee was such a wonderful man, always had a smile when he walked into church. Our deepest sympathy for you as you go forward. Prayers for God to comfort and keep you always. Lee will be remembered always with a smile. In Christian Love, Mike and Bev Stephens

  17. Karen Curtis says:

    Carla & family,
    I join you in mourning the loss of a friend. He will be deeply missed by his Church Family. Take heart that he was a man after God’s own heart and that he has his place in glory. Holding your family close in thought and prayer.

    Karen Curtis

  18. Wesley Alan Taylor says:

    So sorry to hear this news. Lee was a special and kind individual who always took the time to talk with everyone. I remember first meeting him at a monthly chapter meeting of the Tennessee Society of CPAs (Appalachian Chapter) many, many years ago. He was true professional. Prayers for your family during this difficult time.

  19. Josh Hayes says:

    Lee was a good man, a faithful follower of the Lord, always welcoming. When I attended church with him as a little kid, I always think about his consistency, thankful for his unwavering faith and leadership in the church and the community. Even as kid, probably 40 years ago, remembering his smile, welcoming drawl! And his suit! Thankful for him in my life.

  20. Joseph McCormack says:

    Lee was a lifelong friend. I attended Jr. High and High School with Lee and thought the world of him. He will be remembered as a smart caring and talented man. His wife Carla and family were his foundation. So sorry to hear of his passing.

  21. Kate Rhodes says:

    As a college student at ETSU I was privileged to work for Lee Davis. I learned so much from that job and from Mr. Davis. As the office staff gathered around, Lee opened my acceptance letter from the UT College of Law (as I was afraid to) and we all celebrated. I have now been practicing business law for 18 years and am often reminded of different experiences I had working for Mr. Davis. I was honored to know Mr. Davis, his family, and the work family at his office. Prayers for peace for the family.

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