OBITUARY: James Carlton Davenport


James Carlton Davenport passed away surrounded by his loving family in Columbia, Tennessee on Sunday, May 26, 2024, at age 93.

Born to Hobert and Betty Delaney Roberts in 1930 in Donelson, Carlton was adopted following Betty’s unexpected death in 1935. Raised by Rupert and Leda Bea Davenport, Carlton grew up and attended high school in Pulaski, TN.

He was baptized by Bill Delaney at Highland Park Baptist Church, where all his children would also be saved. Working as a shrimp and fish-frying cook, the debonair Davenport met Martha Ann McKee of Santa Fe when she was a waitress. They quickly fell in love and married months after meeting each other.

Upon getting a new job at a construction company, Carlton mentioned in casual conversation to his foreman that he was adopted and lost track of his siblings. The foreman asked what Carlton’s last name was before the adoption, and when told it was Roberts, the foreman said, “I’ll bet a dollar I went to school with your brother.”

The two men went to a telephone and within weeks, a reunion came together at Carlton’s home in Columbia with his long-lost brother Olon. Olon said, “I always thought we’d meet someday, somewhere.” Olon knew the whereabouts of their other siblings Toy, Clifton, Harold, and Alene (Penny). Carlton said, “Someday, we’ll all get together for a reunion. And that reunion will Really be a reunion.”

Family was the driving force throughout Carlton’s life. Sure enough, that gathering with the siblings happened to reunite them. With Martha, Carlton went on to have a beautiful family of children: Carolyn Cothron, Nancy Harvell, James Edward (Jim) Davenport, and Joey Davenport.

Life could’ve tried to make a hard man out of Carlton Davenport, but it would’ve failed. He was the biggest jokester in a family full of knuckleheads. As a young man, he would squirt farmcats when milking cows and trick acquaintances into riding a horse that was prone to bolting for a fence to throw its unfortunate riders off. He found delight in cutting up with his grandchildren and lovingly aggravating his children. Carlton’s infectious laughter was always accompanied by bouts of table pounding, knee slapping, and shoulder smacking of whoever was nearby.

Carlton was a genius at fixing and caring for machinery. He had a career as an entrepreneur running coin laundry businesses such as The Big Wash Tub, among others. Those dexterous, strong hands worked their magic on cars, motorbikes, washing machines, A/C units, you name it. He took pride in hard work as a means to care for family. He loved to play golf and watch NASCAR races with his sons and grandsons.

Already missing him dearly, Carlton is survived by his wife of 74 years Martha, his daughters Carolyn (Tony) Cothron and Nancy Harvell, his sons Jim (Lori)Davenport and Joey (Rhonda) Davenport, his grandchildren Shannon (Chase)Dearman, Natalie (Reggie) Perkins, Taylor Harvell, Wes Davenport, Whitney (Brad) Cochran, Will (Kyoko) Davenport, Mackenzie (Jared) Baisden, Keaton Davenport and Baylea Davenport, six great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

A graveside service will be held on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, at 2:00 PM at Polk Memorial Gardens with Pastor Bob Vassar officiating. A visitation will also be held on Wednesday from 12:00-1:30 PM at Heritage Funeral Home. Heritage Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

Pallbearers will be Joey Davenport, Taylor Harvell, Will Davenport, Keaton Davenport, Ken McKee and David Wayne Holloway. Honorary pallbearers will include Jim Davenport, Wes Davenport, Tony Cothron and Kyoko “Koko” Eng.

Special thanks to Michelle, Jennifer and Breanna with Compassus Hospice for their dedicated care.


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