Zell Davis, of Singer Island, Riviera Beach, Florida passed away peacefully in his home, Wednesday, June 10, 2020, surrounded by his loving family. He was 93 years old.
Zell was born Sept. 2, 1926 at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach. He graduated from Palm Beach High School in 1944, after which he joined the Navy and served on the USS Franklin aircraft carrier and was one of 704 survivors who remained aboard the most heavily damaged warship to ever return to the United States from Japan under its own power. He was truly part of America’s “Greatest Generation.”
The officers and crew were the most highly decorated group serving on a single ship in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
The G.I. Bill afforded Zell an education graduating from the University of Florida in 1950 (Go Gators) and the University of Miami law school with a Juris Doctor in 1957.
While practicing law, Zell became Assistant County Solicitor from 1959-1961 in Palm Beach County. He returned to public service in 1964 when he was appointed Assistant State Attorney by Governor Hayden Burns.
In 1968 Zell was elected State Attorney for the 15th Judicial Circuit. He remained in the private practice of law from 1961 until 1998 when he retired, having completed 50 years as a Florida Bar member.
Zell maintained a private pilot’s license, as well as a U.S. Maritime Captain’s License.
Zell was an avid boater and fisherman, fishing the Bahamas, Central and South America. He was a great raconteur, telling stories of “how it used to be” while growing up in the Palm Beaches. He invented and held a U.S. patent on a waterproof lamp receptacle for use in mines and other hostile environments.
Since 1985 Zell served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Comprehensive Alcohol Rehabilitation Program (CARP), and its President during his tenure on the Board. He was a former member of the Sailfish Club, The Old Guard Society of Palm Beach and the 704 Club representing the 704 survivors who remained aboard the USS Franklin returning it to the United States.
He was a lifetime member of the Union Congregational Church of West Palm Beach, where he served as deacon, trustee, and chaired the Church Council.
Since 1998 he has been a member of the First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach.
Zell was predeceased by his wife, Gloria Stice Davis in 1985 and his step-son Brad McLemore in 1994, and is survived by Brad’s daughter, Alexandra Sibille and her husband Seth and their children Addyson and Jude Sibille.
He is survived by his loving wife, Marie Hope Davis, his loving and devoted children, Mark Davis and his wife, Eileen; Terri Skiles and her husband, George; Karen Hinz and her husband, Nelson; and two adoring grand-daughters, Bailey Skiles and Mary Oberto and her husband, Kelsey; and a great-grandson Griffin Oberto, all of whom loved their “PAPA” more than anyone else.
Due to the social distancing restrictions of the COVID-19 Pandemic his family will hold a private graveside service. A celebration of Zell’s well-lived life for family and friends will be held at a later date.
Due to the fact that there are no public services at this time, the family asks that in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to CARP, 1626 Okeechobee Rd., West Palm Beach, Fl. 33401, or The Salvation Army, 2100 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach, Fl 33409.
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