Montclair’s Dr. Alfred Davis Jr. remembered as a pioneer with a warm smile
By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
Pastor Ryan Faison told those gathered at Christ Church in Rockaway Friday they have a bond.
“We have been blessed to share the common experience of receiving the gift of Dr. Alfred Davis Jr.,” Faison said to the friends, family members who’d come to his church. Davis, a Montclair Board of Education member since 2019, longtime owner of Davis Integrated Medicine in Montclair’s South End and participant in countless community organizations and activities, died Dec. 12 at the age of 65.
Davis was born in South Hill, Virginia. His parents, Alfred and Sylestine Booker Davis, decided moved the family to Newark before relocating to Roselle, where he grew up with his younger brothers, Darnell P. and Frizzell Davis, as described in his obituary.
Darnell P. Davis remembers his older brother as a protector, as an adventurous spirit and as a kind soul.
“Growing up with my big brother, I was honored by his smile,” Darnell P. Davis said. “He would invest his time and energy in the well-being of his friends. He was present with them. So, as a little boy I got to appreciate that. I looked up to my brother and how he dealt with friends before I had friends. And he modeled how to be with other people through his kindness, his sense of humor and his enjoyment of that person in the moment.”
Frizzell Davis spoke of Alfred Davis Jr.’s love of his family and his friends.
“He was a cheerleader for us as well. He always exhibited encouragement for our goals and what we were looking to do in life,” Frizzell Davis said. “He was always there to offer that encouragement and support for our goals as we were growing up.”
Darnell P. Davis said Alfred Davis Jr. sheltered his brothers from difficult experiences he went through, and taught them how to deal with adversity. Darnell P. Davis remembered when they attended the same school together, another student wanted to fight him.
“He wouldn’t take sides with me, per se, and just say: ‘I’m going to protect my little brother,’” Darnell P. Davis said. “He would try to arbitrate so that the two young combatants, me and the other person, could understand that we ought not to fight and that we should find some common ground. So, he was modeling a behavior that we would grow into. Avoiding fights at all costs and trying to find benefits to both sides.”
After graduating high school, Alfred Davis Jr. went to Seton Hall University and majored in math. At Seton Hall, he pioneered WSOU-FM’s first Black-oriented radio program, “Focus on Black Pride,” his obituary says.
It describes how he pursued physical and mental development through Wu-Su, a system based on traditional Chinese martial arts and taught to all, regardless of race or background. He loved music; he played bass and had an extensive vinyl record collection.
After a car accident caused him to suffer back pain, Alfred Davis Jr. became a chiropractor.
“He was so intrigued by the doctor’s ability not only to relieve pain symptoms but to cure the cause of the pain without drugs or surgery,” his obituary recounts.
Frizzell Davis said that his older brother opened his practice in Montclair’s South End in 1981 because of the area’s diversity.
“Back when he opened, chiropractic [medicine] was little-known and accepted in large circles,” Frizzell Davis said. “His passion was to introduce chiropractic and natural healing methods to a broader community. A community that was more inclusive, that looked like him. A community that was diverse, and Montclair represented that.”
Peter Kofitsas, director of physical therapy at Davis Integrated Medicine, told Montclair Local this week he remembers Alfred Davis Jr. greeting his patients with a huge smile and a pat on the back.
“He had this great smile. It was infectious. As soon as he smiled, you felt connected to him,” Kofitsas said. “You felt warm. He really was genuine.”
Kofitsas said the practice that Alfred Davis Jr. ran was not just a business, but more like a family and a reflection of the community.
“It’s so diverse and multicultural. It’s really a remarkable place,” Kofitsas said. “I’ve been here for four years and I love my patients. We’re very sad that Dr. Davis is gone. But we’re determined to carry on his legacy in serving the community.”
At the memorial, Clifford Virgin, who met Alfred Davis Jr. in 1977 in college, remembered the two became friends right away. He shared several anecdotes, including about how he became the chiropractor’s first patient.
“He puts me on my side and [jumped] in the air,” Virgin said as he mimicked the jump. “I said, ‘What are you doing!’”
Dr. Herman Glass, another friend and former vice president of the American Black Chiropractic Association, described how they both ran to lead the association in 1988. Glass said with Alfred Davis Jr. as its president, the association was active and had great conventions.
Alfred Davis Jr. was also one of the founders of The Montclair African American Heritage Foundation’s annual parade, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship fund.
He served on the medical staff at Montclair Community Hospital and Meadowlands Hospital. He held memberships in the American Chiropractic Association Council on Sports Injuries and Roentgenology, the Council on Chiropractic Education, Business Networking International, as well as Jersey Ski.
He’d been an initial member of the original New Jersey State Board of Chiropractic Examiners and its first Black president.
Darnell P. Davis said his brothers would continue his legacy in the community.
The Montclair community will remember Alfred Davis Jr. as someone who delivered healthcare with a high moral standard and offered his patients anything he could do to help, Darnell P. Davis said.
“[Alfred Davis Jr.] instilled a standard of kindness. A standard of taking care of people. A standard of treating people the way they want ... to be treated,” Darnell P. Davis said.
Frizzell Davis said the community will also remember him as a trailblazer, and someone who encouraged leaders of other businesses in Montclair to pursue their goals and dreams.
“I’ve heard it [mentioned] many times, where it’s from the optometrist, where it’s the podiatrist or the shop owner that has a pizzeria or the barber shop. He was known as a supporter, not just of chiropractic but of small businesses,” Frizzell Davis said. “Many Montclair professionals that are in the South End business district are indebted in many ways to Dr. Davis’s support.”
Montclair Board of Education members are expected to decide shortly how to fill the seat his death leaves open on the board.