H. Denny Davis, who served more than 20 years as a foreign correspondent with United Press International before returning to his hometown to own and operate the local newspapers, died Saturday from leukemia and fungal pneumonia, according to Friemonth-Freese Funeral Service.
Davis, who had been in declining health for several years, died at Cooper County Memorial Hospital in Boonville. He was 79.
He worked in Peru, Brazil and Mexico for UPI from 1956 to 1975 before becoming a regional executive with the news service in Charlotte, N.C., from 1975 to 1978.
He returned to his hometown of Fayette in 1978 and operated a printing business until 1984, when he bought the Fayette Advertiser and the Democrat-Leader.
After retiring in 2000, he continued to work several hours a week for both papers until May 2005. He was inducted into the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame in 2005.
James H. Steele, who bought the Fayette newspapers, said Davis was the prototypical community newspaper editor who did everything from reporting news to selling advertising.
?He was highly competent, fiercely independent and on occasion, cantankerous,? Steele said. ?But behind his gruff exterior, Denny was passionately dedicated to his hometown, his staff and family, his country, and particularly to preserving the legacy of the Boonslick area. He was a mentor and friend who will be sorely missed.?
Davis began his newspaper career with the Fayette newspapers during World War II as a printer’s apprentice. He received a journalism degree in 1949 from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
He also served two stints in the Navy, 1945-46 and 1950-51. After leaving the Navy the second time, he worked for the Southeast Missourian in Cape Girardeau until joining UPI in Oklahoma City in 1954.
Davis was a founder of a civic group that gained state and federal recognition of Old Franklin in Howard County as the birthplace of the Santa Fe Trail. He served for 10 years on the U.S. secretary of interior’s advisory council on that trail.
Davis willed his body to the University of Missouri School of Medicine. There will be no visitation. A private memorial service will be held at a later date.