After 51 years of service and working in every area at the blood center, Julia Davis — the well-known senior donor recruiter for Marsh — is finally retiring. Marsh held a retirement party for Davis in the center’s parking lot on Thursday, coinciding with World Blood Donor Day.
“My husband has been waiting for me to retire for 10 years, so that’s the reason I’m retiring,” Davis said. “I just thank God every day for his blessings because he’s the one who’s made it possible for me to have such a wonderful job and work with such wonderful people every day.”
Davis started working at Marsh in September of 1966 and officially retires from her position on Aug. 3. Lois Marsh herself asked Davis to join the blood bank team and the two struck up a lifelong friendship.
It’s been fairly hard for Davis to retire, because “I hate to leave these great donors and coworkers,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like it’s been 51 years. But I will be volunteering some, when they need me.”
During Davis’ tenure, Marsh estimates:
— She worked 2,600 weeks or 13,000 days or 104,000 hours.
— The center collected a conservative estimate of 650,000 units of blood.
— Blood collected saved 1.95 million lives.
— Davis placed an estimated 1.3 million phone calls.
— A life has been saved for every 1.5 phone calls Davis placed.
— Based on eight-hour work days, Davis has helped save a life every 5 minutes for 50 years.
“We’re not really sure how we’ll survive without her,” said Don Campbell, executive director of Marsh. “It’s going to take five or six of us to replace what she’s brought to this facility over the years. There’s no question about that.”
Most everyone who attended the retirement party came up and gave Davis a big hug. Some brought flowers and a few even brought gifts. Burgers, hot dogs and chips were served, a local radio station was on site and of course the Marsh bloodmobile was nearby for convenient donations.
“Today is a celebration. It’s to let everybody know how wonderful she’s been and how much she’s meant to the folks who come here,” Campbell said.
Larry Pierce moved to Kingsport in 1975 and donated blood for 61 years. After each donation, he knows when Davis is going to call him for his next one.
“I know exactly eight weeks after I give, there’s going to be a phone call,” he said.
Tim Elliott of Blountville, who has donated blood for more than 30 years, was one of the first ones through the line, and he sat down with Davis for a quick bite of lunch.
“She’s just a hard woman to say ‘no’ to. I just can’t do it,” Elliott said. “I just have to say, ‘Yes, ma’am’ and come on down.”