PORTLAND — The international experiences that John Robert Davy had right after he finished medical school greatly influenced his later years.

“It really opened up his eyes. People who travel when they’re young have a different world view,” said his daughter Sarah Muscat.

Dr. Davy died Sunday at the age of 77.

After graduating from Temple Medical School in Philadelphia, Dr. Davy fulfilled his commitment to the U.S. Navy as a way of paying for school. He was first on a ship for six months and later served as embassy physician in Djakarta, Indonesia.

“He was very energetic and interested in everything,” Muscat said, remembering how her father read newspapers regularly, to keep up with local news and international headlines.

Once his commitment to the Navy was through, Dr. Davy returned to the U.S. to earn a master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. Shortly after that, he moved his family to Portland and accepted a position as the city’s director of public health.

Dr. Davy quickly realized that the administrative work he was doing for the city was not his passion. He opened a private practice in a small building on Deering Street.

He started by working alone, and soon added partners, his daughter said. Outgrowing its facility, the practice moved twice.

After he retired in the early 1990s, the practice moved again, to Marginal Way. It is now known as Intermed. Despite all the moves and changes, Muscat said, her father’s office phone number, which she memorized as a young girl, is the same number that Intermed uses today.

“He loved the state of Maine and the way of life there, the people and natural beauty,” his daughter said.

In the early 1970s, the family bought a house on Cushing Island in Casco Bay. The house became one of Dr. Davy’s passions. Muscat remembers the family spent a few summers living in a tent on the property while the interior of the house was renovated. Her father later added a deck and a new kitchen, she said.

Dr. Davy’s daughter Vanessa Davy said they called the cottage on the island the “Jail,” and her father’s boat was called the “Jail Bird.”

“He just loved that boat. There were many great memories of being out on that boat with him,” she said.

During the winter, Dr. Davy took his family to Pleasant Mountain to ski. From the early 1970s until the 1980s, he was a part-owner of the ski area in Bridgton, before it was sold to the company that renamed it Shawnee Peak.

“He was a person who never sat still,” Vanessa Davy said, until he was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder that attacked his nervous system.

He enjoyed bicycling around the retirement community where he lived on Dataw Island in South Carolina, but the disorder forced him to slow down. Just the same, she said, he remained cheerful and gracious.

“He never complained,” she said. This winter, he vicariously satisfied his passion for skiing by watching the Olympics in Vancouver, not missing one of Lindsey Vonn’s races.


Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]


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