Jasper David Davis, Jr. was born on January 5, 1918 in Wilson, North Carolina, the oldest of five children. In 1937 he graduated from Charles L. Coon High School where he was a three sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball He attended Duke University on a football scholarship. While at Duke, he was coached by Wallace Wade and was a member of the heralded 1938 team which was undefeated, untied, and unscored-on during the regular season. As a member of the original “Iron Dukes,” he played in the 1939 Rose Bowl which saw the Blue Devils fall to the University of Southern California 7-3.
While at Duke he played Blocking Back in 1937 and 1938 and Fullback in 1939 & 1940. He was recognized as the Most Valuable Player on the Duke Football team in 1940. Davis was a member of the Associated Press All-Southern Football team, honorable mention on the 1940 AP All-American team and was selected to play in the “Blue-Gray North-South All Star” game in Mobile, Alabama in 1940.
Following his football career, he was drafted by the Detroit Lions but accepted a position coaching with the Duke Freshman team in 1941. While serving on the coaching staff, he assisted in the 1942 Rose Bowl game played in Durham due to the World War II west coast blackout restrictions. From 1942-45 Davis served in the US Army in Europe and played on the Eastern Army All-Star football team in the United States.
Following his military service he came to Wilmington in 1946 and began teaching and coaching at New Hanover High School under Leon Brogden, ironically his high school coach from Wilson. For the next 22 years, he either coached or was an assistant for six different Wildcat sports-football, basketball, wrestling, tennis, golf, and baseball. As an assistant to Coach Brogden, he helped guide New Hanover to eight state championships in basketball and one in football. The 1949 football team played in the Friendship Bowl in Mexico City, Mexico. He served as head coach for New Hanover in football, wrestling, tennis, and golf, guiding the Wildcat golf team to the state championship in 1959. Davis is a charter member of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association and received the Distinguished Service Award from the NCHSAA in 1990. During his early years of teaching and coaching, he worked during the summers with the school system maintenance crew which built the New Hanover Field House at 13th and Ann Streets. In 1997 the Field House was renovated and named in Davis’ honor.
In 1968 Davis left coaching to become the Business Manager of the New Hanover County School System, a position from which he retired in 1983. Widowed in 2006, he was married to Eris “Cotton” Sturdivant for 59 years.