In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Cora Joyce Merritt Davis, 97

Cora Joyce Merritt Davis, 1923-2021
IMB Photo

Cora Joyce Merritt Davis, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Nigeria and Ghana, died Sept. 1, 2021. She was 97.

Davis was born Sept. 29, 1923, in Forrest County, Mississippi, to the late Inman and Myrtle Merritt. She graduated from Petal (Mississippi) High School and received her nursing degree from Methodist Hospital (now Merit Health Wesley), Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and the Bachelor of Science from Mississippi Woman’s College (now William Carey University), Hattiesburg.

In 1945, she married Ralph Davis, whom she had known since childhood, after he returned from serving with the U.S. Army in the Pacific region.

Davis served as a private duty nurse and floor supervisor at Methodist Hospital and as school nurse at Mississippi Women’s College.

Davis wrote when seeking missionary appointment that she accepted Christ as her personal Savior at age 11 and dedicated her life to international mission service when 15 while attending a Woman’s Missionary Union camp for girls.

In 1950, the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed the Davises as missionaries to West Africa, where they served in Nigeria and Ghana for 34 years. During that time, Joyce worked in education, evangelism, health care and homemaking.

After their retirement, Ralph and Joyce returned to Hattiesburg, where they volunteered for the Forrest General Home Care and Hospice program and visited heart patients in the cardiac rehab unit at Forrest General Hospital. Joyce was a member of Temple Baptist Church and Hardy Street Baptist Church for 75 years.

Davis was preceded in death by her husband of 66 years, Ralph Davis. She is survived by two children, David Davis (Gretchen) and Nan Davis; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and brother J.P. Merritt.

A celebration of her life was held Sept. 5, 2021, at Macedonia Baptist Church, Petal, Mississippi, with burial in the church cemetery.

Read an obituary here.