Gary Davis Of Russ Davis Wholesale Passes Away At Age 81

background of blue sky and sun

Gary Davis, former president and owner of Russ Davis Wholesale (RDW) in Wadena, Minnesota, died at his home Jan. 3 after a long battle with cancer. 2017 marked 60 years since Mr. Davis started selling fresh produce with his father, Russ.

Gary Davis
Gary Davis

“Over the course of 50 years he leveraged a tremendous work ethic, significant smarts, a competitive nature and plenty of attitude to build a business that became the industry leader in the upper Midwest,” the company said in a statement. 

As a veteran of the industry, Mr. Davis was a respected expert on product, operations, sales, procurement and executive leadership. His passion for the business and life in general was inspiring, the company says, adding that people who knew him will recall his spirit—displayed in a short temper, but an even quicker smile. He was a generous leader and made his employees owners of the company when he was ready to retire.

“His passing was a sad day for many of the RDW family who were fortunate to have worked with Gary or known him as one of the company’s founders. He will be remembered fondly and thought of often,” the company said.

A memorial service celebrating Mr. Davis’ life will be held on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 11 a.m. at the Wadena Alliance Church in Wadena and will be officiated by Pastor and longtime friend Jim Stoneman of the 1st Congregational United Church of Christ in Wadena, where Mr. Davis and Benda, his wife, have been lifelong members.

A gathering of friends and family will be held on Friday, Jan. 12, at Schuller Family Funeral Home’s Johnson-Schuller Chapel in Wadena from 5-8 p.m. and will resume at Wadena Alliance Church on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. until the time of service.

Read Mr. Davis’ obituary below:

Gary was born to Russell and Lucille (Larsen) Davis on March 18th, 1936, in Hunter, ND. The family moved to Wadena, MN in 1947, where Russ founded Russ Davis Wholesale in 1955 with just two trucks. Gary started his life-long occupation and passion at RDW in 1957 where he remained a solid fixture in this nationally recognized business until his death.

A man of great veracity, Gary was known in our communities and throughout the Upper-Midwest as a businessman, business-owner, and friend with integrity and principle. He was greatly loved and respected by many. He worked diligently with his friends Dennis McIntire and brother-in-law Jim Lehr.

Besides spending time with his family, Gary enjoyed hunting, fishing, and golfing. He also loved the opera, playing cards, and giving people a hard time.

Gary passed in his home surrounded by family on January 3, 2018, near Ottertail, MN.

Preceding Gary in death were his parents Russell and Lucille Davis, and friends Paul Evans, Wally Mueller, and Dan Coburn. 

Gary is survived by his wife, Benda of Ottertail, MN; daughters, Katy Davis (Mark) Neitzke of New Richmond, WI; Amy Davis of Nisswa, MN; Darcy Davis (Paul Fiske) of Makawao, HI; grandchildren, Gary (Stacee) Rosier, Marissa Neitzke, Victoria Neitzke, Jack Hecker, Isaiah Acia, Micah Acia, and great-grandchildren Owen Rosier and Emilia Rosier. He is also survived by his loving and adoring sisters, Sally Lehr of Ottertail, MN and Linda Rumery of Coeur d’Alene, ID and their families; along with a host of friends, family, and grateful and dedicated employees. 

Honorary pallbearers include Sam Phillips, John Kemling, Tom Zosel, Mark Neitzke, JD Lehr, Gary Rosier, and Jack Hecker. 

The family requests that memorials be directed to Mayo Clinic in the memory of Gary Davis through the Department of Development for Pancreatic Cancer Research. 


Keep reading:

Former J&J Family Of Farms Exec Named President Of Naturipe Brands

United Fresh To Present Lifetime Achievement Award To H-E-B Exec

GreenFruit Avocados Names Industry Veteran Director Of Sales, Marketing

About The Author

A word nerd, grocery geek and three-year member of The Shelby Report. She is a proud new homeowner and a great lover of avocado toast.