Recognized as one of the “75 Most Powerful Black Men in American Business” by BLACK ENTERPRISE, Steven Anthony Davis died from cardiac arrest at the age of 64 on Sunday.
The former chair and chief executive officer of Bob Evans Farms Inc. was also featured in BLACK ENTERPRISE’s Registry of Corporate Directors.
Born in Milwaukee to Dolores and the late Henry Joseph Davis, he was the youngest of five. Davis graduated from Messmer High School and achieved a Bachelor of Arts in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1980. In 1983, Davis graduated with a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago.
This past June, Davis was recognized as one of the 2022 National Association of Corporate Directors Top 100.
An astute businessman, Davis was the first African American and the second non-Evans family member to run Bob Evans Farms Inc. Davis became one of eight African American CEOs of publicly traded companies when he accepted the C-suite executive role in 2006. Davis told Nation’s Restaurant News that he “took the top job at Columbus, Ohio-based Bob Evans because he is always up for a challenge,” in a 2007 interview. Davis was instrumental in the growth of Bob Evans Farms Inc. He doubled the size of the food business and created Bob Evans University.
Davis proclaimed his motivation for success in his LinkedIn bio. He shared, “My performance is not only measured by sales and profit growth, but also by the job opportunities created on ‘my watch’ as I enjoy seeing people flourish. My greatest joy and accomplishment is to name the multitude of employees who started their careers with me and who have grown well beyond their own personal expectations.”
His business acumen extended to preceding tenures at Long John Silver’s, A&W All American Food Restaurants, Pizza Hut, and Kraft General Foods. A few of his many accomplishments in these positions included: initiating the A&W’s first (single brand) restaurant, attaining the highest restaurant operations performance in YUM Brands history, and introducing the first WingStreet® concept to the Pizza Hut brand of which there are now over 4,000 WingStreet® locations nationwide.
Davis was chair of Mid-Ohio Food Bank’s Operation Feed. Davis sat as a director on numerous Fortune 100 boards such as Legacy Acquisition, CenturyLink, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Sonic, The Ohio State University’s Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, and JobsOhio. The recipient of the Ohio State University William E. Nelson Community Warrior Award for Business also served as a board member of American Eagle Outfitters, Inc., Albertsons, Marathon Petroleum Corp., and PPG Industries. Davis served on the International Board of Directors for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) for the Central Ohio Chapter.
The Columbus Dispatch reports John Surma, chairman of the board of Marathon Petroleum, said in a company statement “We are so saddened by Steve’s passing and the loss of such a vibrant voice on our board.”
“On behalf of our entire Marathon organization, we offer our sincerest and deepest sympathies to the Davis family. We will miss Steve’s valuable contributions to our business, his friendship, and his uplifting spirit.”
American Eagle Outfitters CEO and Chairman Jay Schottenstein also shared his condolences on Davis’ passing.
“It was truly an honor to know and work alongside Steve. His loss leaves a void for many, and that void will be especially felt within our AEO family. We extend our heartfelt sympathies and prayers to Steve’s wife Lynnda, daughters, grandchildren, and all who loved him.”
The family man and girl dad is survived by his wife of 40 years, Lynnda Davis, daughters Brittany Barbosa (Evan), Stephanie Oliver (Christian), and Cassaundra Davis, and grandchildren, Chandler, Reese, and Davis Barbosa, and expected baby Oliver.
Visitation will take place July 17, 2022, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Schoedinger Margarum Northeast, 1051 E Johnstown Rd, Gahanna, Ohio 43230.
The homegoing service will be on July 18, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. at Central College Presbyterian Church,
975 S Sunbury Rd, Westerville, Ohio 43081.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Steven Davis Business Scholarship Fund at
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee or to the JDRF.