Businessman, philanthropist, volunteer firefighter, supporter of the arts
BY BILL DEMAREST
CONGERS – Niles M. Davies Jr., owner of Davies Farm who was known for his lifetime of hard work as a farmer, as a community volunteer, philanthropist and supporter of the arts, died Tuesday at home on his family’s farm in Congers.
Mr. Davies is remembered today not only as one of Rockland County’s last family farmers, but as someone who strongly believed in the community and worked to support it.
“There are many old farmers up in the great beyond, in another, forever version of Rockland, continuing their friendly rivalries, meeting in the New York City produce markets and tilling the fertile but rocky soil that was both their love and duty before suburbia. Now Niles Davies Jr. has joined them,” said longtime Rockland County journalist Arthur Gunther III. “He was the son of a farmer in Congers, a colleague to many workers and people of the land and the grandson of Dr. Lucy Virginia Meriwether, a legendary female pediatrician who delivered so many babies in the county that a special Health Department register should be named for her (she was related to Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition team). Niles also was the grandson of the famed artist Arthur B. Davies, who helped begin the modernist art movement in The Armory Show of 1913, which introduced impressionists Picasso, Rodin, Degas, Matisse and Marcel Duchamp to America.
“He was my friend, but he was many a Rocklander’s friend,” Gunther said. “He was deeply and passionately connected to his county, which he could talk about in fascination. Niles was a smart businessman, surviving with the challenges of both the up-and-down economy and suburban growth. He was a promoter of the arts, particularly assisting the Rockland Center for the Arts. But most of all, Niles M. Davies Jr. was a farmer, born and bred, proud of it, and that first and foremost.”
In addition to operating the family business in Congers, Mr. Davies served as a board member of the Rockland Center for the Arts, he was a past chairman of the Salvation Army of Greater New York’s Advisory Board, served as president, vice president, secretary and treasurer of the Rockland County Farm Bureau and served as president of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland County Board of Directors. He was founder and served as president of Helen Hayes Hospital Citizens Advisory Council and served on the board of the Helen Hayes Hospital Foundation.
In Congers, he long served as an active volunteer firefighter with the Congers Alert Hook, Ladder and Engine Co. #1.
Mr. Davies was the husband of Jan Davies .
Republished with permission