Honor for Mike

U.S. Army Sgt. William Sanchez poses for a photo with the Patriot Guard Riders after they escorted him home to Gilroy on February 19, 2012

Before he became a Gavilan Community College trustee, Rotary Club member, church choir singer, Leadership Morgan Hill graduate, business owner, avid fisherman and horseback rider, and a long list of other titles reflecting what his friends classify as unwavering ambition and devotion to those around him far and wide, Mike Davenport was an officer in the U.S. Navy.

The Morgan Hill resident was also a Patriot Guard Rider for about a year before his death March 2, at the age of 47.

“Mike was a very close and personal friend of mine,” said fellow Morgan Hill resident Steven Stratton. “I miss him a lot. He was a great family man, a loyal friend, incredibly bright. He never had a bad word to say about anybody even if he was mistreated. He was a very, very fine guy and a wonderful, committed Morgan Hill citizen.”

Davenport died after suffering a head injury that resulted from an accidental fall from the top of his motor-home Feb. 20.

The Patriot Guard Riders are a nationwide nonprofit group of volunteers who support veterans and active troops by welcoming them home, and attending the funerals of fallen soldiers.

It was fitting that the PGR escorted Davenport’s family to his funeral and burial services March 17. They were invited to the services by his widow, Terri Davenport.

The service at South Valley Community Church in Gilroy included military honors, with a playing of Taps and the American flag was symbolically folded 13 times and presented to his wife. A reception followed at the Gavilan Community College gymnasium.

Local PGR motorcyclists Mark Zappa, 53 of Gilroy, and Michael Jordan, 49 of Morgan Hill, accompanied his wife and the couple’s two daughters  en route to the services. With about 15 motorcycles and three “cage drivers,” they picked up the family at their home the morning of the service and escorted them to the church. After the service, which Zappa said was “packed” with friends and family, they continued to escort them to the reception.

The diverse list of Davenport’s interests and skills grows longer each time a friend of his is asked to describe him. For the last seven years, Stratton competed on Davenport’s team at a week-long fishing tournament on Alpine Lake. In the Navy, Davenport worked on submarines and nuclear energy programs. He was a privately licensed airplane pilot. He sang in the choir and played saxophone in the church band at West Hills Community Church.

He became a Gavilan trustee in 2008 and remained on the board until his death. Stratton said supporting youth and education were “a passion of his.” He was a director of the nonprofit Pauchon Foundation, which supports science, medical and business research.

He had “a gift for high-tech and computer programming,” and was employed at Cisco as a manager when he died. He was a co-owner, along with 13 others, of the Morgan Hill Cigar Company.

And on top of all this, perhaps what he will be most remembered for is his generous and kind nature. When in Davenport’s company, “you thought you were his only friend,” Zappa said.

“Wherever he showed up he brought an uplifting presence. He was very nurturing to people. He was a rare person. People in politics usually get a little bit jaded, but Mike never seemed that way to me. He was someone you could always trust.”

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