Family Ties: Davis Family Coming to Stevens for Four Generations

12/6/2013

The Davis family has been coming to Stevens since World War I, when Herbert Wainwright Davis, Class of 1920, joined Stevens’ Naval Unit and yearned to drive his father’s big blue Stutz.

His son, Herbert W. Davis, Jr. ’50, M.S. ’53, attended Stevens after serving his country in the European Theater during World War II. His sons, Gregg ’84 and Steven ’85, followed him to Castle Point, where Gregg met his wife, Teanne Sawyer Davis ’86—but that’s another story.

And this past fall, the fourth generation of the Davis family, Herbert Wainwright’s great-grandchildren, entered Stevens, continuing what may be one of the longest family legacies in the university’s history.

Alena and Jaymes Davis—twin sister and brother—joined the Class of 2017 this fall, and smile patiently when asked about their family legacy.

“There’s kind of a pressure,” Jaymes acknowledges.

But they’re surrounded by family history. As they picnic on Palmer Lawn, their father Gregg points toward Palmer Hall and the very window of the dorm room where their grandfather lived. They’re just a few minutes away from the Beta Theta Pi house, where Gregg was a brother and remembers the exact day that he first met Teanne: Feb. 28, 1983.  It wasn’t a late Valentine’s Day dance but a large gathering that evening to watch the final episode of “M*A*S*H*.”

“The fact that they were the fourth generation steered them away,” Gregg says, at least at first. So Teanne and Gregg stepped back and let the twins decide.

Alena, who is studying biomedical engineering, and Jaymes, who has chosen business and technology, did apply to other schools, but Stevens seemed to have a lot going for it. Alena calls it a good technical school that just felt right.

“New York City is right here,” she says. “You have a little campus, and the city. It’s a close knit community; it’s more comfortable.”

“It has a small town atmosphere, and we come from a small town,” Jaymes added, as the family hails from the rolling hills of Harvard, Mass, west of Boston.

Their parents are delighted.

“Stevens had a good ROI (Return on Investment) article come out. The timing was perfect,” Teanne says with a sly smile. “I think it was a no-brainer—a lot of positives.”

“It’s something that we knew works,” Gregg said. “Everyone I knew who came from Stevens is very successful.”

Gregg’s grandfather, the late Herbert W., Class of ’20, started the Davis Company, which made cabinetry and, during World War II, ammunition boxes. His father, Herbert W., Jr., founded Herbert W. Davis & Company, an engineering and management consulting company that he ran for many years in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.; he’s now retired and lives in Vermont. Gregg works as general manager of API Technologies, a micro-electronics company in Marlboro, Mass., while Teanne is a stay-at-home mom who worked as an engineer with Digital Equipment Corp. before having the twins.

Growing up in Cliffside Park, N.J., Gregg recalls spending many Alumni Days on campus with his family. He knew his father’s Stevens roommates, his longtime friends who, actually, are named Tom, Dick and Harry.

Busy with kids and life up in Massachusetts, the Davises hadn’t returned to Stevens in more than 20 years. When they brought their only children to Stevens as freshmen, they found a refreshing change.

They never forgot that classic Stevens speech they heard as freshmen: “Look to your left, look to your right, one of you won’t graduate.”

Stevens President Nariman Farvardin’s speech was the complete opposite, Gregg said, and assured parents that the school will do what it can to help their children.

“That one statement made all the difference,” Gregg said. “As parents, we’re putting our kids in school and we want them to succeed.”

While Jaymes is still contemplating a career path, Alena says that her passion lies in engineering artificial limbs, and maybe even the next artificial heart.