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Caldwell Davis, former business development leader, dies at 57

By Staff reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Lewis Caldwell Davis, the former president of a Charleston economic development organization that helped bring new businesses to the Corridor G area, has died. He was 57.

Davis, who was born in Charleston, became in 1993 the president of Charleston's Business and Industrial Development Corp. (BIDCO), a public-private economic development group that sought to attract and keep businesses in Kanawha and Putnam counties.

He served in that role until July of 1997. 

At BIDCO, Davis helped oversee the ongoing development of businesses at Southridge Centre. The Walmart at Southridge Centre opened a few months before Davis became BIDCO president, and the growth continued from there.

BIDCO was developing the Southridge property with several private businessmen -- including brothers Richard and Lee Rashid -- at the time Davis became president.

In 2004, BIDCO, the Charleston Renaissance Corp. and the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce merged to create what became the Charleston Area Alliance.

"Caldwell Davis was a colorful, talented individual who was, from my perspective, the best director BIDCO had," said Charleston Mayor Danny Jones. "He worked harder than anybody that I know of, before or since, to cultivate business for this valley."

Angus M. Peyton, 57, of Charleston, was making flight arrangements Sunday afternoon to attend Davis' funeral in Wilmington, Del.

"It's hard, we need a very large jet," Peyton said, noting that a lot of people from the area plan to attend his funeral. "He had more friends than anyone I know."

Peyton's father, the late Angus E. Peyton, served on the board of BIDCO with Davis.

When Davis moved to Delaware to be close to family, Charleston suffered a horrible loss, Peyton said.

"I think Charleston was his love," he said. "He had an amazing way of instantly being your friend.

"Caldwell was such a unique individual. He was as much fun as he was smart," Peyton said. "He was almost part-comedian. He could dress the part of a businessman, but just as easily, within five minutes, have people on the ground rolling with laughter."

Davis was a member of the tennis team at John Adams Junior High in Charleston, which led him to being a ball boy at the U.S. Open in Forest Hills, N.Y. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1978, according to his obituary.

Among other family members, he is survived by his three daughters, Paget Tilden, Warren Caldwell and Baird Brittingham Davis; their mother, Paget Brittingham; as well as his long-time partner, Elizabeth Cromwell Secor and her son, Jay Campbell.     

A memorial service is being held at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Vicmead Hunt Club in Wilmington, Del.


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