Modern Times: Polymers, Computers, and Cultural Diversity

Mark Davis
Mark Kincaid Davis
Mark Kincaid Davis (1956- ) was the first son of Bud and Margaret Davis. He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in October 1956 and was brought home to live at the little house on Osborne Road in Hazardville, Connecticut, which Bud and Margaret had had built. Mark's middle name came from the Kincaid family of Edinburgh, Scotland, and later Bowdoinham, Maine, who were maternal ancestors. Unfortunately, Margaret didn't know how to spell the name correctly, actually using the variant "Kincade." Little Mark was quite inquisitive; at the age of four, he woke up early Christmas morning and opened every present under the tree with a large carving knife, destroying most of them in the process. Bud was none too pleased and made sure that little Mark couldn't sit for a day or so following the incident. As Mark got older, it became clear that he didn't share Bud's agrarian and hunting instincts.
Nerdy kid

Mark's Science Project

Mark was happier reading, especially books about science. At the age of eight, he got a chemistry set for his birthday and discovered how to convert sulfur to its allotropic forms by heating. He also discovered that this angered Bud and Margaret who weren't too pleased about their home smelling like rotten eggs. In 1969, Mark had his mother irradiate some corn seeds with X-rays at the dental office where she worked. His experiments earned him top honor in his school science fair and finalist in the Connecticut State Science Fair in Hartford. His dad couldn't figure out why on earth anyone would want to eat radioactive corn, even though Mark tried to explain that this simply was not possible.

In the summer of 1970, Bud's half-sister Sue came to Connecticut for a visit. She invited Mark to come to Texas to visit her that summer. He did, and this began a close relationship between Mark and his Aunt Sue. That summer, and the two following, Mark spent time in Texas with his aunt's family. Sue's passion was genealogy and it was here that Mark learned about his family history. That interest has never abated, and as a result, you are reading about the Davis family here. In 1974, Mark graduated from high school as valedictorian of his class. He knew he wanted to study science, and enrolled in the University of Hartford as a chemistry major. Although he did well here, he became somewhat disillusioned with pure science. He left school for three years to earn money for college and to decide what he really wanted to study.

In 1976, Mark took a job as a technician in the polymer materials development lab at Debell & Richardson, Inc. in Enfield, Conn. Although he didn't know it at the time, this was the place where great-grandpa Horatio had worked at the paper mill and Uncle Neil Davis had also worked for a short time doing "some sort of crazy stuff" in the 1940's. Here, Mark learned that the key word for his future really was the one divulged to Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate: "plastics!" Mark had found something that combined chemistry with engineering and a good dose of practicality as well. He decided to make it his career.

White speaking..
Roy White: "All righteee..."

At Debell & Richardson (aka Springborn Labs) Mark met many polymer professionals who would impact his life. Key among these were Roy White and Dr. Rudy Deanin. From Roy, Mark learned creativity in the face of adverse working conditions. From Rudy, a professor at the University of Lowell and a D&R consultant, Mark learned about the Plastics Engineering program at ULowell. In 1978, Mark enrolled in the program and learned all he could from Rudy and the other professors at Lowell. Finally, in 1981, Mark graduated from ULowell with a B.S. Plastics Engineering degree. He ranked first academically in his department and in the top ten in his graduating class. He was awarded the "Top Senior Student in Plastics Engineering" that year as well.

After graduation, Mark spent several more years at Springborn Labs as an engineer. In 1984, he went to work for Combustion Engineering in Windsor, Conn. as a member of the non-metallic materials nuclear engineering team. In the 1980's Mark also enjoyed life to the fullest. In 1980, he met Bill Sweetman, Dave the Greek, and Big Al Goulet, with whom he had a lot of misadventures, including several cross-country trips by car. In 1981, Mark, Bill, and Al drove to Tucson where they drank several hundred cases of beer to ward off the August Sonoran desert heat.
No quiero Taco Bell.. woof woof
Dogmeat burrito in Nogales, 1981

Too much beer
Big Al (left) and Bill Sweetman
party it up in Hollywood
Mark didn't realize it then, but he would later become an honorary Arizonan when he spent four months in Phoenix on a work assignment in 1986. Mark learned that the Valley of the Sun was more aptly named The Valley of the Broken Thermostat in July and August. Mark continued to travel when he could, retracing some of the western journeys he had made with his family in his childhood days. In 1989, Mark got to take a European trip with his friends Chris and Sue (sorry guys, strictly platonic vacationing) where they drove from Paris to Marbella, Spain, leaving baguette crumbs along the way in their search for the fabled Pegaso. Like his father Bud, Mark decided to learn to fly and earned his pilot's license in 1988 in a Cessna 152. For the next several years, Mark and friends had a lot of fun hopping around New England in a Cherokee Cruiser, N4520Q. Oh, those halcyon days of blissful bachelorhood!

85 Copeland St.
Mark's home in Springfield
In 1983, Mark bought his own Davis homestead in Springfield, Massachusetts. Here he lived for eight years with friends George and Charlie. Another occasional visitor was Olivier Bataille, a French co-op student, who taught Mark to speak incredibly vulgar French slang. In 1990, Mark reluctantly agreed to a blind date set up by friends Mike and Ann, and was pleasantly surprised when he met Mona Mourad. Mona was Director of Government Relations for Advo, Inc., in Windsor, CT, and part of her job was to coordinate the company's Missing Children's Program. Ever see those pictures of missing kids that come in the mail? That's the one... and many missing children were indeed recovered by this program. Right away, Mark knew that his bachelor days were numbered! After a blissful courtship, they were married in June 1991 and moved into Mark's home in Springfield.

Arms aren't really fat
Mark and Mona in the Berkshires
Marrying into the Mourad family brought new traditions, customs, and bloodlines into the Davis family. The Mourads were Lebanese and Mona had been born in Cairo, Egypt. When she came to the United States in 1969, she spoke no English, only French and Arabic. Mark was able to practice his French with the family and he also learned to speak a little Arabic. Mark's father-in-law, Dr. Samir Mourad, is a psychiatrist; this comes in handy when he gets stressed out. Mark's mother-in-law Marlene is a homemaker and master chef from whom he has learned to cook many traditional Middle Eastern dishes. In 1992, Mark also got to make a return trip to France, this time as a guest of Olivier Bataille's family in St. Malo. Mark and Olivier were able to visit Omaha Beach, where Mark saw first hand the shores that provided his Dad with some exciting and terrifying days almost fifty years previous. Needless to say, it was an emotional experience.

In February, 1993, they had a child, Matthew Merritt Davis. It was hard to imagine that the little blond, blue-eyed baby was half Lebanese! Everything seemed to be going well for the family, until disaster struck in November 1993, when Mark lost his job of ten years due to corporate downsizing. The job market in New England was terrible, and Mark was unable to find work. Not wanting to opt for McDonald's, Mark decided to return to college. He moved the family to northeastern Ohio where he enrolled in the University of Akron Department of Polymer Science. On March 10, 2000, Mark successfully defended his dissertation on new ways to characterize filled rubber systems using atomic force microscopy. Mark graduated with his Ph.D. degree on May 14, 2000, as the first Dr. Davis in this particular branch of the Davis family. In September 2000, Mark joined the research staff at Gould Electronics, Inc., a manufacturer of metallized films for electronics applications. In 2004, Mark moved on to Advanced Elastomer Systems, L. P., an affiliate of ExxonMobil Chemical Company. AES, originally a joint venture between Monsanto and Exxon, makes Santoprene thermoplastic rubber compounds. In 2006, Mark was transferred to ExxonMobil's polymer research center in Baytown, Texas. His current activities involve modeling the mechanical properties of all of ExxonMobil's polymer portfolio.

The New Kids on the Block

Matthew Merritt Davis (1993- ) was the first son of Mark and Mona Davis. He currently resides in Texas.

Michael Alden Davis
Michael Alden Davis (1997- ) was Mark and Mona's second child. He was born in Medina, Ohio on May 5, 1997. His middle name comes from his 11th great grandfather John Alden of the Mayflower. Mikey started smiling and laughing at the age of two months and has never stopped. Mikey still enjoys collecting and trading Pokémon cards. He is very musical as well and is trying to learn to play the guitar. His musical tastes are quite eclectic; after seeing his first live concert at the young age of three (NRBQ concert in Cleveland) his tastes have evolved along with his dad's to a preference for alternative country. His favorite bands are The Old 97's and The Waco Brothers. Mikey has developed a very special friendship with Rhett Miller, the frontman for the Old 97's. They first met at a concert in Cleveland in 2005, where Rhett told Mikey that the secret to success in life is to read a lot of books. Mikey works hard at his reading skills and reports back to Rhett on a regular basis to apprise him of his progress.

William Cornelius Davis
William Cornelius Davis (2000- ) was born August 26, 2000 in Medina, Ohio. After much pleading and many concessions, he was awarded the middle name that commemorates his descent from his 8th great grandfather Cornelius Davis. In spite of such an august name, Will is still known at home by the nickname Weebs. Where that came from, we're not quite sure. At the age of 7, it is readily apparent that Will is a budding genius. He reads very well and his math skills are incredible. He can do 5th grade math homework in his head, much to the dismay of his brother Mikey. We are already worried how we are going to foot the bill for an MIT education in the 21st century.

Mark and Mona are very proud of their two youngest children. They hope that they will take an interest in the family history and perhaps continue the tradition by adding to it later in life.

Author's Commentary

Well, friends, that brings us to the end of 500 years of Davis Family History! What was this all about? My original intent was to electronically publish genealogy information for those who might be researching this branch of the Davis family. But I soon realized that I had much more than just facts; I had a story that spanned half a millenium with pictures and interesting anecdotes. As I compiled the information, I saw that the story of this family mirrored American societal development over that period as well. It's all in there: colonial roots, the power of the early colonial church, struggles with human vices, the patriotism that came with defending your country in wartime, the transition of American society from agrarian to manufacturing to high technology, and the inclusion of other cultural influences that makes us what we are today. I think many of us can identify with these themes, and it is my hope that you find a little bit of yourself in these pages.

Thanks to:

Bullet Sue Davis Raven for many of the family photographs
Bullet Alan "Big Al" Goulet for his photography
Bullet Chuck Freed for his portrait of Deacon Daniel Davis, created from a silouette and other family physical traits 
Bullet Prof. Richard W. Davis for his History of Somers, A Connecticut Town, wherein a good deal of Davis history may be found 
Bullet Rev. Joseph A. C. Wadsworth III for his History of the 2nd Congregational Church of Stafford, the source for most of the information of Davis family involvement in church affairs in the 18th and 19th centuries 
Bullet Albert Davis for historical notes on Thomas Davis of Haverhill 
Bullet Martin Davis for the Acton-Turville Manuscript, originally written by Edwin P. Davis 
Bullet Emerson Bradway Davis for anecdotes 
Bullet National Archives for World War II photos 

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Pages last updated July 9, 2008

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