Walter Royal Davis is one of North Carolina’s most prominent philanthropists. A native of Pasquotank County, Mr. Davis graduated from Hargrave Military Academy in 1938. With no money to attend college, he spent several years as a truck driver before a $1,000 loan allowed him to found the Permian Corporation in Texas. He later merged his company with Occidental Petroleum, and developed the first oil wells in the Middle East. Today Mr. Davis’ business empire encompasses properties ranging from oil wells to seaside resorts. Mr. Davis’ humble origins impressed upon him the importance of education, and his business successes allowed him to concentrate his philanthropic efforts on creating scholarships that helped the less advantaged earn degrees.
Mr. Davis has contributed to numerous programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State, such as the NC 4-H Youth Development, which enabled a new construction at the Eastern 4-H Environmental Center. He also contributed to the NCDA Farmer Disaster fund, which provided cash grants to some of North Carolina’s hardest-hit victims of flooding after Hurricane Floyd. Mr. Davis provided the single largest gift to our 4-H Lifetime Achievement Awards Gala as a way of recognizing his good friend, Commissioner James Graham. His generous contributions to the James Graham Scholars Endowment helped to create one of the College’s largest scholarship endowments, supplying full scholarship awards to at least 9 students each year. He served three terms on the board of trustees of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and spent two years as board chairman.
In 1994, Walter Davis was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal from the General Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has also been awarded the William R. Davie Award from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill board of trustees, and in 2004 was the inaugural recipient of the Light on the Hill Award. Mr. Davis also served on the Duke University board of trustees, and was a member of the University of North Carolina board of governors for 10 years.