Robert Bryant Davis
United Methodist pastor, advocate for social justice
The Rev. Robert B. “Bob” Davis was born April 3, 1939 in Burbank, California, the only child of Robert C. and Isabelle M. (Bryant) Davis.
He grew up in North Hollywood where he attended Victory Boulevard Elementary, Sun Valley Jr. High, and North Hollywood High School. He attended the North Hollywood Methodist Church with his family, was active in scouting and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in 1955.
Following his graduation from high school he enrolled at the University of Redlands, graduating in 1961. It was there that he connected with his future wife of 60 years, Rosemary Alice Mills, whom he married in 1963.
He then began his seminary studies at the School of Theology in Claremont. He was ordained a deacon in the Methodist Church and began his first pastorate as founder of the North Oxnard Methodist Church, also in 1963. It was in Oxnard that his children were born, Wesley in 1967 and Tamara in 1969. That same year the family moved to National City, California for his second ministerial appointment, followed by a move to St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in San Bernardino in 1978. After 10 years of service there, he was appointed superintendent of the Pasadena district and charged with the oversight of 55 churches.
He returned to the local church in 1994 with his assignment to Claremont United Methodist Church, where he helped further its then recent pledge to become a reconciling congregation and emphasized radical inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community. This became an increasing hallmark of the ministry he and Rosemary shared, and one that passionately continued with him into retirement.
“Throughout his ministry, he was a strong advocate of social justice and was known for the prophetic voice he shared from the pulpit,” his family recalled. “He believed in meeting people ‘where they were at’ and getting them involved in the life and leadership of the churches he served. As a result, he became a beloved mentor to countless clergy and lay people alike.”
He was also a music lover and accomplished pianist (with additional dabblings in bugle, trumpet, and banjo), which further illuminated his love of church hymnody.
In 2006 the couple retired to Pilgrim Place where they were reunited with many of their colleagues over the years, and enjoyed being in community with a host of like-minded new friends who shared their vision, outreach, and activism.
Robert Davis is survived by his wife Rosemary; children Wesley Davis and Tamara Nicoll; and granddaughter, Chloe Nicoll.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 26 at Claremont United Methodist Church, 211 W. Foothill Blvd., Claremont, CA 91711.