The Ottumwa Courier


November 23, 2012

Paul Davenport, 86, Centerville

CENTERVILLE — Paul Davenport, 86, died Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, at the Centerville Nursing and Rehab Center.

He was born in 1926 to Reuben and Lorah (Johnston) Davenport in Mineral Wells, Texas. He lived in Texas until he joined the U.S. Navy in 1944. Paul served 20 months sea duty as a gunner’s mate in the Asiatic-Pacific area during World War II. After his discharge in 1946, he held a variety of jobs in the Merchant Marines, logging camps and mining.

Paul decided to continue his education by enrolling at Phillips University in Enid, Okla. There he developed an interest in the ministry, which led to his ordination in the Disciples of Christ Church. Paul also met a fellow student and his future wife, Jewell Geist, and they married in 1950.

After several years of preaching in small churches in western Kansas, Paul returned to college to further his education. He received a bachelor of science degree in education from Kansas State Teachers College in 1957 and a master of science degree in education from the University of Kansas in 1964. Paul received a post-graduate degree in guidance and counseling from Oklahoma State University in 1965.

Paul was a guidance counselor in Wichita, Kan., for several years before accepting a position as a school psychologist for AEA 11 in the Southeast Polk Community School District near Altoona. He later transferred to AEA 15, which included Wayne, Davis and Van Buren Counties. After moving to southern Iowa, he became more active in the ministry and served in many local churches including Moulton, Hilltown, Plano, Cincinnati, Leon, Lacona, Lamoni, Melcher, Centerville and Glenwood, Mo.

Shortly after retirement, Paul was injured in a farm accident in 1992 that left him with one arm. He was always grateful for the support from the local churches during this difficult time. Unable to return to his farming activities, he embarked on several short-term missionary projects in Russia, China, Vietnam, India and Guatemala. He later enjoyed speaking about his experiences and raising funds for the missions.

All his life, Paul loved walking in the woods and fields and he spent many happy hours hunting for arrowheads, mushrooms and deer. His other hobbies included writing poetry and prose, playing guitar and singing, fishing, organic gardening and spending time with his family and friends.

Paul was an avid reader and a frequent patron of the Drake Public Library.

He is survived by his sister, Mary Stephenson; children, Esther, Elisabeth (William) McKeehan, Stephen (Gayle), Mark and John (Lori); his grandchildren, Matthew (Anita) McKeehan, Amy (Scott) Devore, Joshua (Tara), Amy (Jordan) Iblings, Molly, Alicia, Brittany, Coleman and Becky; 10 great-grandchildren; and many nephews and nieces.

Paul was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Jewell; his cherished daughter, Rebecca; his parents, Reuben and Lorah; his brother, Charles; his sister, Sarah Hodge; and his brother, Barry.

Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at Lange Funeral Home and Crematory in Centerville; with Pastor Josh Davenport officiating. A private burial will take place at a later date.

Visitation will be held from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorials have been established to either the Friends of the Drake Public Library,115 Drake Ave., Centerville, Iowa 52544 or to a church or charity of choice and may be given to the funeral home.

Condolences may be shared online at

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