2017 Hall of Fame: Joe Davis

Sept. 5, 2017

Joe Davis always understood the value of hard work.

Davis, a 2017 Vanderbilt Hall of Fame inductee, suffered the loss of his father, Joe C. Davis Sr., during his freshman year at Vanderbilt. The younger Davis had grown up during the Great Depression and was no stranger to adversity, so he helped support his mother and two siblings by working odd jobs as a student. Those included selling tailored suits and helping manage the university yearbook.

All the while, Davis managed to author a legendary tennis career on West End. The Montgomery Bell Academy graduate won three consecutive Southeastern Conference singles titles from 1939-41 as a member of the Commodores, a feat unmatched in Vanderbilt history.

Today Davis is considered the most accomplished tennis player in Commodore history. Davis graduated from Vanderbilt in 1941 and served in World War II as a member of the Navy, embarking to North Africa, Sicily and Normandy during his military career. He returned to Nashville in 1945 and went on to work in the coal industry, but he kept his hand in tennis along the way. Davis starred as an amateur player in the Southeast and was eventually named to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1976.

That same year, Davis started the Joe C. Davis Foundation, which has contributed more than $80 million to nonprofit organizations in the Nashville-area, including scholarship endowments at Vanderbilt, Montgomery Bell Academy and Harpeth Hall School. Davis passed away in 1989.

All 2017 Vanderbilt Hall of Fame inductees will be honored during the Commodores' home football opener against Alabama A&M on Sept. 9.
Proud Sponsors of Commodore Athletics