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Editor’s note: This story was first published in the Caprock Courier.
By Kay Ellington
PADUCAH – In 1961, not too long after President John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, a 33-year-old Arvis Davis bought a Chevrolet dealership in small-town Paducah, Texas.
In the 59 years that followed, that dealership sold 25,063 vehicles. But the longtime local firm, a Texas Treasure Business Award winner in 2015, has sold its last car. At 92, Davis is retiring and closing up shop.
A member of the Greatest Generation, Davis started as a mechanic when he was a junior at Clarendon High School in neighboring Donley County in 1944.
Back then he worked for Wayman Noblett and State Senator George Moffett. Noblett and Moffatt had been discussing establishing a school to train returning G.I.s (from World War II) in motor mechanics.
“I had received my draft notice,” said Davis, “but Moffatt told me if I was interested in a job, he would exempt me from the draft, but I would have to serve two years teaching at this school in Clarendon and Fort Sill (Oklahoma). That’s the way it all started for me. I’d work two weeks in Clarendon and two weeks at Fort Sill.”
In 1948, Davis married Jo Anne Blackwell, and they remained married for 57 years until she passed away in July 2006. Jo Anne Davis was co-owner and office manager of the dealership.
At the height of the dealership’s success, they had locations in Crowell, Quanah, Childress, Memphis, Matador and Paducah.
About 30 years ago the dealership building that Davis originally purchased burned, and he built a brand new one in the same spot and never slowed down.
In looking over his six decades of being a car dealer, Davis said, “It went too fast, all too fast. I’ve loved it all and would start over in a minute.”
Davis sold Chevrolets exclusively, and his favorite car was the Malibu. “I gave all the grandkids those,” he said.
Davis said the reason for closing is that the market for vehicles in this area has changed. “When I came here there was a farmer to every section of land. There were probably over 100 farmers. Now, there’s six or seven big farmers. There used to be a lot more farmers buying vehicles. Now, there’s just not that many farmers.”
There are no plans at present for another owner to take over the dealership, Davis said.
Nonetheless, Davis says the car business made him a wonderful life, and he has lots to look forward to in retirement. Davis, and his second wife Janice have been married for about two years, so he’s still a newlywed. Even though the Davises plan to stay in Paducah, they hope to travel in their free time.