TYLER (KYTX) - A man who owned many businesses in Tyler, and brought the love of Christmas to his store year-round, has died.
Ralph Davis was 86-years-old and died of heart problems last night.
Friends say Ralph Davis was a man with a business sense they had never seen before, but was truly a lover of this city and everything it had to offer.
Many say his resilience kept him going through many health problems, so they were shocked to hear the news of his death.
"Very shocking, very sad," says Lynn Heines, a long-time friend of Ralph Davis.
Heines knew Davis as a friend since the 50's, and even worked for him at his jewelry store.
"Very much the entrepreneur, very much the business man, was very good at what he did. He could be a tough task master at times, and at other times he would come and give you a hug," says Heines.
Heines says he started small with a women's dress shop, then grew into clothing manufacturing, at the height of his business he had more than 600 employees.
He even played a hand in bringing families to East Texas to work.
"Very successful business man, but whatever he took in, he knew how to give back. He followed his own passions and he followed his own interests," says Rabbi Neal Katz with Congregation Beth El.
Rabbi Katz says Davis was a long-time member of Congregation Beth El, and a member of the board.
Rabbi Katz says he was heavily involved in the Art museum of Tyler, and always took part in planning the Rose Parade and Festival.
"I know that the community is losing a very important person here that has brought a lot of philanthropy and a lot of expertise and a lot of business sense and a lot of passion to the Tyler community," says Rabbi Katz.
After he retired from clothing manufacturing he opened a jewelry and Christmas store before becoming ill.
Rabbi Katz says he was under hospice care at home recently.
"Everybody usually knows his name," says Heines.
A name, and a legacy many will remember in East Texas for generations to come.
"He was truly a kind and gentle man. A lover of this community, and he cared about it," says Heines.
Heines says Davis couldn't stop working, he retired several times, only to come back to work, or open another business.
Heines said even after he was sick, you could see him at the Christmas Store many times, moving through the isles, checking up on his business.
Ralph Davis' funeral is Friday at 3:30 at Lloyd James Funeral Home in Tyler.
Burial will immediately follow at Rose Hill Cemetery.