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Davis' final chapter was classic one in Kentucky

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By Stephen Thomas

HEBRON ESTATES - One man’s improbable dream successfully became the final chapter of his legacy.

Jim Davis, 65, passed away Sunday afternoon. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer one year ago.

In that time Davis created a drive to collect 100,000 donated books for Appalachian libraries. He said the idea came to him after viewing a television documentary on struggling libraries in eastern Kentucky.

“The kids didn’t have any school books or libraries,” Davis said in a previous interview. “I thought this would be something to benefit them.”

Working from home with assistance from close relatives, Davis earned the pleasure of seeing his goal achieved.

Nephew Billy Davis reported a final donation total of more than 116,000 books.

“He met his goal,” said Billy. “He was still proud of his goal. He was still talking about it last week.”

Many local schools and churches assisted with Davis’ book collection. Volunteers from the Hebron Presbyterian Church Ladies Auxiliary helped catalogue the books.

Eventually Davis received corporate sponsorship through companies such as Barnes and Noble Booksellers. Hewlett-Packard and Apple Computers donated new computers to some of the libraries. Victory Packaging of Louisville donated boxes for book shipment.

Davis’ books were donated to libraries in at least seven rural eastern Kentucky counties. At one point Davis visited the Powell County library, where he was honored at a special ceremony by First Lady Jane Beshear and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Beshear nominated Davis as an honorary Kentucky Colonel.

“Mr. Davis’ story is truly a testament to the power of one,” Beshear said. “Thanks to his kindness and generosity, libraries will be able to help children find a love of reading, learning and lay a strong foundation for their future through education.”

A former motivational speaker, Davis hoped to visit Bullitt County schools discussing the health risks and dangers involved with smoking.

Though he wasn’t able to visit, he always hoped his efforts would set an example.

“It’s turned into something bigger than I’ve ever dreamed,” Davis said. “It’s just one man taking the initiative. It’s all I can do for the kids to stay in school. I think I’m doing the right thing. I hope I’m doing the right thing. I just want to help. If I help one kid that’s good.”

Funeral services are 2 p.m. Thursday at Schoppenhorst, Underwood and Brooks Funeral Home in Shepherdsville. Burial will be in Hebron Cemetery.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until the time of the service on Thursday afternoon.