John Francis Davis, known in Blackfeet Nation as ‘The Captain,’ was a high-spirited young man who possessed a special gift: He could connect with people of all ages and backgrounds. It was this gift that inspired him to volunteer as a disc jockey at 107.5 FM Thunder Radio in Browning, Mont., to amplify the voices of Blackfeet people.
As a college student, John hosted the “Captain’s Love Boat Show,” which showcased a variety of music, new and old. But as an AmeriCorp team leader and political science major, he was eager to use his platform to highlight issues that impacted Blackfeet people — like alcoholism, access to health care, and the importance of voting.
John was curious by nature, a life-long learner. He studied history, and he enjoyed debating religion, war and politics. He loved music. John was committed to learning about Blackfeet tradition and culture; he participated in ceremonies with older tribal members like his grandmother. He tanned hides, rode horses and learned the language. He was kind and funny, engaging and generous. His mother, Debra Davis, shared that John was always helping people — often coming home to ask for food or clothes for someone in need.
“He called himself the black goat of the family,” said Debra. “He was funny like that, and he had a big heart — always giving to others.”
“He gave away things that weren’t even his to give,” said John’s father, Tim Davis, through laughter. “People liked him. He wasn’t judgmental either; just eager to help.”
John was a registered organ donor, and this decision was a blessing for his entire family. Tim shared that his eight other children and 17 grandchildren were all able to visit and partake in the keepsakes LifeCenter Northwest offered to keep John’s memory alive.
“The quilt is still hanging,” said Tim, referring to the handmade quilt they were given in the hospital that features John’s handprints. “We still carry the ceramic hearts with his fingerprints, too, and we pray with them.”
Organ donation isn’t common in the native community, and initially John’s parents were against it. Losing their young son was already so emotional, and they wanted to bring him home to rest. But John chose to give life to others, and John’s aunt, who is a nurse, helped his family accept this decision.
LifeCenter Northwest coordinated an honor walk for John and his family. They were able to escort John to the operating room where he gave life to five other people through the donation of his heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.
“It was so special,” said Tim. “We’re so grateful that he was a donor. Honored, really. It has helped us a lot.”
Honor John and the many selfless donors like him by registering your decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. Please share this special decision with your family.
Tim and Debra Davis recently contributed to an article supporting organ donation in honor of John’s memory. Learn more.