- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lloyd Davis, 79, MLK supporter

ATLANTA (AP) — Lloyd Davis, who worked with Martin Luther King’s widow to build Atlanta’s King Center and establish the holiday honoring the civil rights leader, died Sept. 17 of cancer at his Chevy Chase home. He was 79.

A longtime federal housing official, he came to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change around 1980 as executive vice president and chief operating officer, working alongside Coretta Scott King to maintain her husband’s legacy. Later, he was executive director of the federal King Holiday Commission.

Mr. Davis helped Mrs. King plan the building of the center and helped her to get Congress to establish the King National Historic Site.

In 1983, after President Reagan established the King federal holiday, Mr. Davis became executive director of the King Holiday Commission to promote, oversee and raise money for the observance.

It was officially celebrated for the first time at the federal level on Jan. 20, 1986. As the commission’s executive director, Mr. Davis worked to get the holiday legally observed in all 50 states.

Before coming to the King Center, Mr. Davis worked for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, helping press for fair housing and minority business development, his family said.

Martha Gerry, 88, horse owner

NEW YORK (AP) — Martha Gerry, who bred and owned three-time Horse of the Year Forego, died Sept. 17. She was 88.

Mrs. Gerry was chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

A member of the Jockey Club, she was honored in August as an Exemplar of Racing by the Hall of Fame — the first woman to be selected for the award and first to receive the honor since C.V. Whitney in 1991.

Forego, one of racing’s most successful and popular horses, won 34 races for Mrs. Gerry’s Lazy F Ranch and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.

Louis J. Willie, 84, businessman

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Louis J. Willie Jr., a black businessman who helped defuse a racial dispute surrounding the 1990 PGA Championship by becoming an honorary member at the all-white Shoal Creek Country Club, died Sept. 15 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 84.

Mr. Willie was an executive with Booker T. Washington Insurance.

Shoal Creek, in suburban Birmingham, was the site of the 1990 PGA Championship. Protests mounted after the club president said Shoal Creek would not be pressured into accepting blacks members. Mr. Willie helped quiet the situation by accepting an offer of honorary membership.

Afterward, the Professional Golf Association and other golf groups said they would no longer hold tournaments at clubs that lacked minorities or women as members. An advertising executive became Shoal Creek’s first dues-paying black member in 1996.

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