Verna Davis Scholarship
Dear friends established this scholarship in honor of Mrs. Davis in 2020. The Verna Davis Scholarship is awarded each year to a graduating senior at Arkansas City High School.
Verna was born Sept. 11, 1916, at the Goff family farm, northeast of Arkansas City. She was the second of five children born to John B. and Mabel (Short) Goff. She was reared in Arkansas City, graduated from Arkansas City High School and attended Cowley County Community College for two years, studying business. Her first employment was working for the Chamber of Commerce Credit Bureau — a job that instilled in her the need for community unity, progress and service.
Verna married Charles Davis on Sept. 10, 1939, at the First Presbyterian Church in Arkansas City. She and her sister, Helen, had a double wedding, sharing the anniversary date.
Verna was a lifelong member of the First Presbyterian Church, serving as Sunday school teacher, Cub Scout den mother, church camp (Wintz), counselor, deacon, kitchen chairperson, president and women’s moderator. She was honored with lifetime membership in Presbyterian Women Presbyterian Church, USA. Verna stayed in close communication with her church family even when homebound in her last years, by writing long letters filled with ideas to engage children, reminisces of her years in growing faith and expressions of gratitude.
Verna’s work ethic came early, growing up on a farm with both livestock and fields to tend. She learned to milk cows at a very early age and farm life always had its demands that carried through until her first employment after CCCC. After marriage and during World War II, she worked in third echelon maintenance at Strother Field. After the war, she worked at Acton Manufacturing Co. as a secretary and accountant. She then worked several years at Kanotex (APCO) refinery as executive secretary and timekeeper. Lastly, Verna worked for Home National Bank — retiring in 1977 after 19 years of service. Verna’s work at the bank brought her from entry as a bookkeeper assistant cashier, then loan officer and trust officer. To properly fill these last positions, Verna took banking association courses to prepare for these job requirements.
Verna loved to cook, share recipes and tend her garden. Retirement offered many years of travel to “faraway places’ – Europe, Hawaii, Alaska and Mexico – as well as, an opportunity to “return” to her interests to the Goff family farm, of which a portion was purchased by her son, Phillip. The native pecan grove needed attention, and plans were made to plant approximately 400 “improved” pecan trees having nuts that are larger and shells that are thinner than the native trees, some of which dated to pre-Civil War times. Rootstock nuts were prepared and planted and as they grew, were transplanted to their permanent location. Grafting to improved varieties continued for four years to bring the trees into what would in seven to 10 years become producing trees. One tree that escaped grafting grew to have a superior quality nut. This pecan won state and international seedling first-place awards in 1995 and 1996. Verna named the new cultivar “Faith” as testament to her belief in the worthiness of the work effort involved. Verna was elected president of the Kansas Nut Growers Association in 1996.
During her working years, Verna served as president of Credit Women International — Kansas president 1969-1970 and district director 1970; Chamber of Commerce director 1976-77; Arkansas City Board of Zoning Appeals 1977-82 and Cowley County Zoning Board; and secretary of PRIDE organization 1977-82. Community activities included Arkansas City Historical Society; PEO Chapter BO; Walnut Valley Quilters Guild — Charter Member Denton Art Center; Presbyterian Manor Advisory Board.
Verna’s generous gift of time and loyalty to family and friends were perhaps her crowning achievements. She took to heart being available and caring to give time and wisdom to those that had a need or interest. How she was able to perform all her life’s work is especially meaningful to those who knew and loved her.
Verna passed away the morning of Monday, April 24, 2017, at Medicalodges of Arkansas City at the age of 100.