Jerry Davis, a generous donor to UF’s College of Medicine and Shands HealthCare who was committed to advancing cancer research and care for everyone, passed away Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was 66.
“Jerry Davis believed passionately in UF and Shands and supported our college in so many ways–with his time and dedicated service, with his leadership talents, and his personal resources,” said Dr. Michael L. Good, dean of the College of Medicine. “At UF and Shands, we are determined to find cures for cancer, and if we do, we will do so because Jerry Davis believed in us. Those of us who knew him are better human beings because of our friendship with him and his family.”
Last year Davis and his wife, Judith, made a $21 million gift to the UF Shands Cancer Center, of which $20 million went to the College of Medicine to advance research efforts and patient-care initiatives, and $1 million to Shands HealthCare for its Raising Hope Campaign to support construction of the $388 million Shands Cancer Hospital at UF. The Jerry W. and Judith S. Davis cancer endowment is the largest single gift ever made to the college and supports teaching, research and programs in cancer.
“He inspired to us in so many ways, and his great generosity over the years — what he viewed as an investment in hope — has helped further our commitment to our patients, our students and our scientists,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for Health Affairs and president of the UF&Shands Health System, Good, and Timothy M. Goldfarb, CEO of Shands HealthCare, in a message to Health Science Center faculty, staff and students and Shands employees Tuesday.
The Davises’ support of the college began 12 years ago when they helped jump start the cancer program with a $5 million gift in 1998. Their contributions have provided dozens of researchers with the latest tools needed to understand the disease, and the outpatient care component of the cancer center was named the Jerry W. and Judith S. Davis Cancer Pavilion in recognition of their support.
Davis’ legacy at UF and Shands will go beyond philanthropy. He was a member of the Shands Board of Directors since 2001 and served as chairman and as a lifetime member of the board of directors for the UF Foundation.
“His guidance, leadership and expectations for us to be the very best we can has helped make our institutions better,” said Guzick, Good and Goldfarb in the message. “It is not often that you find someone who has the commitment, the ability and the faith that Jerry had. He was steadfast in his mission to see that the people of Florida have access to state-of-the-art cancer treatment and compassionate care, and he believed UF and Shands could provide it.
“It is our responsibility to live up to his expectations.”
He is survived by his wife Judith; their son Jerry, Jr. and his wife, Candice, and their two sons Cameron and Colin; their son Troy and his wife, Julianne and their son, Jake, daughter, Rylianne; and his brother, Gene.
The family will receive friends from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Ruth Lindsay auditorium, at First Baptist Church, 125 W. Ashley St., Jacksonville. A celebration of Jerry’s life will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church, also in the Ruth Lindsay auditorium. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to University of Florida Foundation for Shands Cancer Hospital Fund in memory of Jerry W. Davis.