On Friday, November 20, 2015, one month short of his 101st birthday celebration, Hardin King Davis left us. A fourteen year Mount Pleasant resident, eighty-seven year Long Island, New York resident and a centenarian who touched the lives of many.
Born on December 26, 1914, the day after Christmas in Brooklyn, New York, Hardin, like many, found solace and comfort in the Charleston area. A graduate of Colgate University in 1937 and Penn Dental School in 1941, Mr. Davis had a successful dental career of 36 years following in his fathers footsteps. His practice was a strong throw from the famous Belmont Racetrack, home of one of the three legs of the Triple Crown.
Along with recognition of his parents, Harden was respected among his colleagues receiving the Nassau County Dental Society’s highest award, The Herbert L. Taub Distinguished Service Award. If dentistry didn’t keep him busy enough, Hardin was on the Health Planning Board for Nassau and Suffolk Counties, the Board of Managers of the Nassau County Medical Center and the School Board of Floral Park Schools. He was also on Fidelity Bank of New York Board of Directors for 41 years and served as Board Chairman for 5 years.
In 1932, 83 years ago, Hardin and his good friend Ned Scott, in a 1928 Model A Ford (after his parents approved the trip), drove from New York to Los Angeles to attend the Summer Olympic Games. The only stipulation was that they could not exceed 35 MPH at any time. This was a round trip of almost 11,000 relying on a very early and rustic highway system. They camped the entire way both there and back. On one memorable morning, they woke to a giant bear on their camp site. Fortunately, the bear did not attack and walked away quietly. On another fateful morning, a group of men on horses stood over them as they woke and told them to move on thinking they were “vagrants”. After the Olympics and a short trip into Mexico, they headed to Washington State and then back east through Chicago. This was a trip that defined his passion for sports, commitment to a challenge and willingness to take on the unknown abyss of life with risk and abandon.
Just 20 days after Pearl Harbor and the day after his birthday on December 27, 1941, he married his first wife Margaret “Meg” Washburn. In 1958, the couple built a tennis court which became a meeting ground for singles and doubles, drinks and snacks with neighboring friends. Almost like a Long Island version of Gatsby. He also drove one of the very first cars to cross the George Washington Bridge upon completion.
Along with his three children and four grandchildren, Hardin leaves a legacy of compassion, dedication and love that stretches from coast to coast. He was a citizen of Charleston and one we were proud to call a neighbor and a friend.
*Thank you Len Fries, The Palms of Mount Pleasant Reporter and The Post and Courier for providing wonderful anecdotes of a gentleman with a storied legacy.