Honoring Mr. Vyrle Davisby Representative Kathy Castor
Posted on 2013-02-14
in the house of representatives
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Ms. CASTOR of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the life
and accomplishments of Mr. Vyrle Davis. His contributions to education
and social reform in the Tampa Bay community and throughout the state
of Florida are worthy of recognition by all.
Mr. Davis, a native of the Tampa Bay community, attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, before beginning his teaching career at 16th Street Elementary and Junior High School in 1960. Inspired by both his grandfather, a teacher who established the first school for African-American children in Jackson County, and his mother, who taught African-American students in a one-room schoolhouse within the Citrus Park community, Mr. Davis broke both racial and social barriers within his profession.
In 1971, Mr. Davis was named assistant principal at Gibbs High School and two years later he became principal at St. Petersburg High School. In 1986, he overcame countless obstacles to become Pinellas County's first African-American superintendent, a position he held for nine years.
Mr. Davis was also an advocate for social reform. In 1984, he established the Ebony Scholars program, providing institutional and financial support to high-achieving African-American students. Not only did Mr. Davis participate in raising money for his organization, he also contributed a significant amount of his own time and money. To date, the program has allocated over $500,000 to students.
By 1990, Mr. Davis had left an indelible mark by reforming the role of African-Americans in political office. He founded multiple organizations, such as the African-American Voters Registration and Education Committee, that advanced both the political and educational causes of African Americans. He formed a coalition of other activists, whose mission was to help minorities attain elected [[Page E149]] positions within their neighborhoods. Specifically, he played a momentous role in the campaign of Mary Brown, a woman who became the first elected African-American Pinellas County School Board member.
Although he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2004, he never let his illness deter him from doing that which he truly loved. He was admired by the Tampa Bay community, and those who knew him, revered him.
As I join with Mr. Davis's family and friends in mourning the passing of an outstanding individual, I know they are incredibly proud of the contributions he has made to the Tampa Bay area. The entire Pinellas County community honors and remembers the 76 year life of Vyrle Davis. Mr. Vyrle Davis molded the lives of generations of students through his dedication to education and to the community as a whole. His example will continue to live through those that worked with him and those who learned from him. I ask that you and all Americans recognize such a remarkable citizen for his service to our community and our State.