Cover photo for Susan Elizabeth Griffith Davis's Obituary
Susan Elizabeth Griffith Davis Profile Photo

Susan Elizabeth Griffith Davis

June 21, 1955 — January 28, 2024

Kingsport

Susan Elizabeth Griffith Davis

Susan Elizabeth Griffith Davis left behind her 68 years of vibrant life and profound faith to enter the life eternal on Sunday, January 28th, surrounded by grace, prayer, and song, and by her three cherished children, Kendra, Heather, and Paul, and her adoring husband, Mark.


A woman of remarkable character, rare talent, uncommon brilliance, and constant service to those she loved, Susan entered this world the eldest of five children in a proud military family of deep integrity, discipline, and learning. Her talent for cello was fostered by her parents, Lt. Col. Joseph K. Griffith, III and Margaret Dillon Griffith, from a young age, and through countless moves across the U.S. and overseas for her father's service, her cello was in tow. An accomplished symphonic career blossomed, and she toured with Baryshnikov and the American Ballet Theatre, chaired with the Houston Ballet, and played regularly with the Houston Symphony. After the birth of her children, she shifted from orchestral work to teaching, and for decades she contributed her singular cello voice to chamber ensembles, choral ensembles, and church services wherever her family called home.


Her twin callings for music and for the Kingdom united her forever with the indelible love of her life, Mark Owen Davis, and she devoted 44 years of her capacious artistry and spirit to supporting their shared ministry of marriage and music in the world. They met at Cleveland Institute of Music, fell madly in love, overcame all reasons not to, and married. And oh, what fruit they bore. Together, they shepherded nearly two decades of touring collegiate choirs through profound journeys of musical and spiritual development. Susan was "choir mom" to hundreds over those years, a bedrock of support and inspiration for Mark, a tireless collaborator who, by her very nature, inhabited every moment of the music and the Spirit animating it. That immersion in the work continued without ceasing, as she inspired, edited, enkindled, and anchored her husband's decades of liturgical music ministry in service to First Presbyterian Church of Kingsport and the greater community of faith. And that spiritual investment continues to spill over and pour into the life and work of her daughter Heather, who is herself serving as a music minister in San Francisco.


A voracious reader and lifelong student, Susan's passion for history, civics, literature, poetry, and art was insatiable. Susan was a gifted writer, incisive editor, and generous collaborator whose skill set lacked no depth for its breadth. She served professionally in roles as varied as children's librarian, financial advisor, administrative director, and IT director. A caring and passionate lactation advocate, she ministered to many new mothers as they navigated their breastfeeding years.


She was an astonishing cook. Words cannot express the magic she made in the kitchen. To taste was to know why God gave us hands to prepare and mouths to eat. She has blessed her family with lovingly collected and edited volumes of her recipes--at least 5 in total--and more are still being discovered.


Her hardest-won and most treasured work in this world, though, was her tireless devotion to her own children and theirs. Her sharp and inquisitive mind was ever accepting, her ponderous heart unconditionally encouraging, her spirit always tuned to delight in the people she labored with God to create. A fierce and constant supporter of every endeavor, she instilled in her children a longing for excellence, a commitment to integrity, a passion for curiosity and lifelong learning, and a reverence for privacy in matters of mind and spirit. All three of her adult children are artists by nature and trade, and revel in her influence upon their lives and works.


Never did joy find a deeper root on this planet than in Susan's delight in her eight grandchildren, whom she called her "grandjoys." Each one of them is called to something unique and meaningful, and their Gramama spent every waking moment pondering ways to nurture them along their paths. Their childhoods have been painted in the brilliant pigments of her wisdom, and we pray that the seeds of encouragement she has so diligently sown in them will blossom, every one, in their time. She remains so, so proud of them all. Her Andrus grandjoys include twins Willow and Wilder, Chapel, Aria, Arow, and EdenPearl, living loudly and creatively in Nashville, TN with parents Kendra and Matthew Andrus. And her twin Davis grandjoys are Haven and Harper, making art and engaging in deep community work in Medina, OH with dad Paul Davis and mom Terra.


Susan's memory is a blessing now to sister Dr. Sharon Griffith Stern of Copley, OH; brothers Firth (Xiao-Li) Griffith of Palo Alto, CA and Frank (Jane) Griffith of Wingina, VA; and sister Andrea (John) Deshaye of Olympia, WA. Her beloved siblings and their own vivid children and grandchildren join Susan's family in grief and also in gratitude for the life she shared with us and her life everlasting: the legacy of salvation her faith leaves behind is a treasure of infinite worth to us all. She was enduringly proud of her sisters and brothers, challenged by their intellectual and spiritual rigor, and ever grateful for their counsel, commitment, and care. The work their children are doing in the world was a source of tremendous awe and inspiration for her, and she followed the lives of her nieces and nephews with enthusiastic interest and enormous respect.


Oh, how we love her.


Please join us for a memorial service of music and worship in her honor on Sunday, April 7 at 4:30 pm at the First Presbyterian Church in Kingsport, TN. The service will also be livestreamed at https://firstpreskingsport.org/Presiding will be the reverends Mike Shelton and Paul Seay, accompanied by musicians who shared her artistic life: Robert J. Greene, Jr on organ; Vicki Fey on piano; cellists Bethany Dawson and Joshua Kovac, with David Kovac, violin; and an alumni choir of singers who knew her as their "choir mom" over decades of touring, under the direction of Dr. Trevor Smith.


In lieu of flowers, all donations made in Susan's honor will be used to provide instruments and training to promising young cellists through the newly established Susan G. Davis Memorial Scholarship Fund. Donations may be made via venmo at $ https://venmo.com/mark-davis-82$ . Kindly include the words "SGD Fund" under "What's this for?"

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Susan Elizabeth Griffith Davis, please visit our flower store.

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Sunday, April 7, 2024

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