Former Northeast board member dies after lengthy illness

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by jamesc  1/26/2017 3:06:18 PM -- 

NORFOLK – John W. Davies, a former member of the Northeast Community College Board of Governors, has died after a lengthy illness. He was 60.

“We are saddened to hear of John’s passing,” said Dr. Michael Chipps, Northeast president. “He fought a courageous battle with his health over the past year and the Northeast Community College family extends its condolences to John’s, wife, Diane, their children, and the rest of the family at this time of loss of an incredibly gifted human being.”

Davies, of Pilger, was a longtime physician’s assistant in the Norfolk area, most recently at Sunny Meadow Medical Clinic. But he had a compassionate interest in public service; a path that led him to his time as a member of the Northeast board of governors. 

He was first elected to the At-Large position on the board in November, 2008, and was re-elected in 2012. When he served as chairman in 2014, he declared it the “Year of the Student Success” at the College – a time to showcase the achievements and accomplishments of the student body inside and outside of the classroom.

Chipps said Davies was a committed member of the Northeast board.

“John understood the role community colleges play in higher education. He was a personal testament to how a community college can transform one’s life. After serving in the military and then 15 years in the manufacturing industry, he went to college, starting at Northeast, to pursue a degree in the medical profession.”

Davies’ relationship with Northeast Community College went back to his days working at Nucor Steel in Norfolk. It was an idea of his that created a system where shift workers at Nucor could take classes through Northeast at times when it was most convenient for them.

“Because he saw the need and the desire of his fellow employees, the program was launched with great success due to his visionary leadership,” Chipps said.

Davies was recognized for his work on the board of governors.

In 2014, he was presented with the Nebraska Community College Association’s Governor’s Award. The award is presented annually by NCCA to one board member from five of the state’s community college areas.   

In October 2015, he was one of five people to be named a finalist for the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) M. Dale Ensign Trustee Leadership Award. Davies, the Western Region finalist, joined trustees from community colleges in California, New Jersey, North Carolina and Ohio, during an awards ceremony held in San Diego, CA.

Davies joined former Board Chairman Gene Willers, of Pilger, and Chipps in San Antonio, TX, in January 2015, as Northeast was recognized as one of four national finalists for the American Association of Community Colleges 2015 Exemplary CEO/Board of Trustees Award of Excellence. The other finalists were from Florida, Ohio, and Texas.

Davies was also named to the 2014 class of the Northeast Community College Alumni Hall of Success.   

He served in a number of capacities on state and national community college boards. He was state coordinator for ACCT in Nebraska; was a representative on the organization’s national diversity committee and sought its chair position at the 2013 ACCT Convention in Seattle, WA. He was also a delegate to the ACCT Fall Conference in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

In addition, Davies served on the steering committee of the J. Paul and Eleanor McIntosh College of Nursing on the Northeast Campus in Norfolk.

He resigned from his seat on the board of governors in November 2015 to spend more time with his family and to tend to his health.

As he was inducted into the Northeast Alumni Hall of Success, Davies credited Northeast with giving him new opportunities in his life.

Northeast Community College changed my life. It took me from a great job at Nucor and got me started along my dream of a career in medicine.  At a time in your life when the fear of change is so over whelming, Northeast stepped up and said that you can begin achieving that dream here. Next to marrying my wife, it is the single greatest decision of my life,” he said. “How can I tell anyone how Northeast Community College impacted my life when the changes I made through Northeast affected every aspect of my current life?”

Memorial services for John W. Davies will be held Saturday, January 28, at 10:30 a.m., at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Wisner. Visitation will be held Friday, from 4-7 p.m., at the Home for Funerals in Norfolk.



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