State Rep. Don Davis dies after long illness
State Rep. Don Davis, a Jacksonville Republican who had been a member of the Legislature since 2000, died Thursday morning at 76. Davis had been ill for more than a year, and had brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in 2007. He last appeared on the House floor late in the 2007 session, where he was welcomed with a standing ovation.
Well-liked by his colleagues, Davis was a champion of a state program to provide tax incentives to TV and movie companies to bring their productions to Florida. The Florida Times-Union report on Davis' return to the House floor last May is here.
After House Speaker Marco Rubio announced Davis' death, Sergeant at Arms Ernest Sumner was quickly summoned to the House floor to place a black cloth over Davis' third-row desk, where it will remain for the rest of the session. Davis was a U.S. Army veteran and a vice president of Gate Petroleum Corp.
He is the second House member to die in office in less than a year. Rep. Mike Davis of Naples died last September.
Update: The Senate also held a moment of silence for Rep. Don Davis and Sen. Jim King gave a short speech.
"Everybody liked Don Davis.When you met him, you liked him and instantly trusted him. Sometimes I wonder what God's plan is, because he takes the really, really good way to soon....They only make Don Davis' one at a time."
Senate President Ken Pruitt released the following statement: "Florida has lost a great statesman today with the passing of Rep. Don Davis. He loved Florida and dedicated his life to serving the state with honor and dignity. My wife Aileen and I extend our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones."