By Ken MacLeod
Dave Davenport, 79, a visionary businessman, one of the founding members of Oak Tree National and a club champion in six decades at various courses, passed away due to a combination of heart issues and pneumonia.
Davenport, who grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas, was one of the founding members and chairman of the board of Quail Creek Bank as well as a talented amateur golfer who played in both the U.S. Senior Open and the British Senior Open during his career.
He and Gerald Barton, who was the land development genius behind Landmark Land Co., which developed Oak Tree National, PGA West and many other properties, were early business partners on various ventures in Oklahoma City. In the early 1970s, they developed a company called Public Employee Benefit Service Corp. to sell products similar to 401K plans to public employees, a company that was bought out in 1987 by Nationwide Insurance.
"David had the greatest combination of high intelligence and persuasive ability of anyone I’ve ever known," Barton said Wednesday. "Many people who are that intelligent are not that creative, but David understood that if he could sell to more people he would reduce the commissions he charged and the products he sold were great for the people."
Although he became a huge believer in Oak Tree, Davenport was a skeptic when Barton first told him about the golf course in Edmond he was building with Joe Walser and Ernie Vossler, designed by Pete Dye.
"While we’re driving out there, David said ‘Jerry, this won’t work. If we go any further north my nose will bleed.’
"Well, once he saw the course, he recognized that it was the best around. In our business of community development, you’re either the most convenient, the cheapest or the best. People will drive for the best."
Davenport’s business acumen allowed him to join numerous clubs, including two in the Palm Springs, Calif., area that he helped develop behind the scenes. He won club championships in six different decades, although his best finish at Oak Tee National was second to Ab Justice.
His love for the game and the friends he made playing were one of his great joys in life. Here is a conversation Golf Oklahoma had with Davenport earlier this summer about his career and golf.
Here is his official obituary.
John David Davenport died on December 2, 2015 after three weeks of loving care at the Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City.
He was an inspirational creative force in business and a fierce competitor on the golf course where he spent so much of his life. "DD", as he was known by friends, was born on September 8th, 1936 in Wichita Falls, Texas to Essye and James Henry Davenport and he attended school there until he met and married his high school sweetheart Patsy. They were married for 61 years and had three daughters and one son.
He was preceded in death by his three daughters: Alexis Lee (42), Lisa Alane (49) and Patricia Lee (38). He is survived by his wonderful and devoted wife, Pat; son, David Mark Davenport; and four granddaughters: Alexis & husband Mario Chiarolanzi, Lindsey Lavender, and Ashley and Christina Davenport.
Davenport sustained a massive business career in financial services primarily in and around Oklahoma City. Beginning in the early 1970s until his death, he served as Chairman of The Board of Directors of Quail Creek Bank N.A. He loved to tell everybody that Quail Creek Bank remains the largest single branch bank in Oklahoma and a real person always answers every phone call!
He started his career as brand manager for Proctor & Gamble in Garland Texas. In 1964, he started a new investment retirement idea called Davenport Dilliard. In the 1970s, Davenport pioneered another new company with Sooners coaching legend Charles "Bud" Wilkinson to establish retirement savings for public employees called Public Employees’ Benefit Services Corp which now has over 25 billion dollars in assets and is part of the Nationwide Life Companies.
In 1986, along with one of his founding partners in PEBSCO, Gerald G. Barton, he started a third company, Landmark Financial Services, with his son, Mark Davenport as President. Landmark quickly became one of the largest bank investment savings programs in the US, including a venture with Citibank N.A. and developed operations nationally with over 1500 employees and sales of over one billion dollars annually.
Davenport had many other ventures in his lifetime including a partnership with the National Assn of Cities and Counties (NACO). He delighted in serving as Chairman of Quail Creek Bank and working on the NACO partnership, until his death. It would be impossible to list the hundreds of people and companies whose lives and businesses were inspired or nurtured by Davenport’s creative efforts. He left many heartfelt thanks to Gerald Barton, Bud Wilkinson, Jay Wilkinson, Larry Naake and Steve Swendiman and Bill Jasien, Joe Gasper and Joe Silman, Burt Olah Jr., Steve Thompson and the many, many wonderful smiling faces of the employees at Quail Creek Bank. (Many thanks from the family to Lacey!)
Among many distinctions and awards, Davenport was appointed by President Reagan as a founding member of the Federal Retirement Thrift Board. Davenport didn’t have many hobbies but like his efforts in business, he started with nothing and became excellent. He was a regular part of a group at Oak Tree National Golf Club every day since 1972 when he became one of the original 30 members. He was a scratch golfer with over 20 holes in one and was proud to have qualified for the British Senior Amateur! Davenport was well known as "DD" and for having shot his age over 50 times in the last ten years!! He thanks the many employees and fellow golfing and gin buddies for many wonderful years of memories at Oak Tree.
David Davenport’s other interests were his never-ending efforts to help others less fortunate or those who had crossed his path at a time of need in their lives. He cherished his four grandchildren and loved his wife and son very much. Pat and Mark were with him every day and night at the Heart Hospital since November 10th when he sustained a sudden heart attack. His life was preserved for three weeks by the herculean efforts day and night by the many fabulous doctors, nurses, and assistants who brought smiles to his face and made his last days comforting and hopeful. We will always be grateful to Drs. Ghani and Fixley who gave his family three weeks to share faith, love and hope together before he joined his three daughters, Lexie, Lisa and Tricia in heaven!! We know they are laughing, dancing and smiling from above!!
David was a member of First Methodist Church of Edmond and his services will be held at 1pm, Monday, at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church on Hefner in Okla. City with interment to follow at Memorial Park Cemetery. A reception will be held at Oak Tree National Golf Club, following the committal service. In lieu of flowers, please make memorial donations to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital Research Foundation, 4200 W. Memorial Rd., Oklahoma City, OK 73120 or at www.okheart.com/research/make-a-donation. Visit David’s online memorial at www.Baggerley.com and share your memories and condolences with the family. www.okheart.com/research/make-a-donation –