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Donor Profile: Efner Allen 'Lucky' Davis

Posted: December 18, 2012

They have to make a movie about this guy. It’s difficult to imagine a more entertaining way to spend two hours than listening to the stories of Efner Allen “Lucky” Davis. A World War II veteran with the steel-trap mind and bulging biceps of a 20-year-old, Davis points to a tableful of memorabilia in his living room and says with a smile, “It’s a good thing I have all of the documentation; otherwise, you’d never believe what I’m about to tell you.”

And just like that, Davis launches into story after story about his childhood in Arcade, New York, his time as a combat medic with the 37th Infantry Division’s 14th Corps, his record-high IQ score, his entrepreneurial ups and downs, and how he earned that great nickname.

“I’ve had a pretty exciting life, and I’m fortunate in many ways,” said Davis, who spent much of his postwar career in sales positions. “Many of the guys I served with in the war weren’t so lucky.”

As he speaks, Davis is quick to mention his admiration for others, particularly today’s frontline soldiers and returning veterans.

“Some people around the world don’t love our country,” said Davis. “The rest of us must honor our vets.” With that sentiment, Davis recently committed $402,000 in a charitable gift annuity to Buffalo State’s Transforming Lives campaign to endow the Efner Allen “Lucky” Davis Scholarship Fund. The fund will honor returning Western New York combat veterans through scholarships.

Davis notes that his gift came at the encouragement of Dr. Winifred “Winnie” Morrison, ’46, ’64, a member of Buffalo State’s Peterson Society and the former principal of the Park School in Snyder. Morrison invited Davis to a Peterson Society dinner in 2008—it was their first date. The two now reside together at the Canterbury Woods retirement community in Amherst.

“This money is for the guys who got shot at—the guys who volunteered for military service because, in many cases, they had nothing and had no other chance at a college education,” Davis said. “I want to give them an opportunity to advance their lives at home. And I encourage anyone who wants to honor these guys to do the same.”

So, how did Davis get his nickname? He’s happy to tell the story. “I had more than a few close calls. Anyone who lived through the war did. But one day, I was hiking up to our outpost while carrying 400 rounds of ammunition and six grenades in my backpack. I took a round of fire through that pack without anything detonating. That’s why they called me ‘Lucky.’”

Today, Davis goes by a different nickname at Canterbury Woods, where he built the complex’s special services library in honor of Morrison. Folks there simply call him “The Man Who Helps Everyone.” It’s an appropriate moniker for a man who has spent his life in service to others.

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