Davis Peabody Thurber
Davis Peabody Thurber passed away peacefully at his home in Nashua, NH on February 14, 2021 at the age of 95 after a short period of declining health. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Patricia Martin Thurber, his children Shellburne Thurber, Steven Thurber (Deborah Thurber), and Matthew Thurber, stepchildren Kathy Davis (Robert Davis) and Michelle Earnest, daughters-in-law Beth Tierney and Mary Skillas, former daughters-in-law Carol Hills and Leslie Thurber, nephew Ramsay Thurber, grandchildren Davis C. Thurber, Ella Thurber, James Thurber, Tai Thurber, Day Thurber, Anna Seabolt, Evan Davis, JP Earnest, Zach Earnest, Jeff Earnest, Maggie Camp, Kelsey Hunger, and Meagan Skillas Miller, as well as several great grandchildren and other nieces and nephews. Davis was predeceased by his first wife Shirley Amos in 1970, son Geof Thurber in 2019, stepson Charles Skillas in 2003, sister Constance Prudden in 2000, and brother George Freeman Thurber, Jr. (“Bud”) in 1983.
A native New Englander, Davis was born in Nashua, NH in 1925 to George Freeman and Muriel (Davis) Thurber and was the youngest of three children. Educated at Eaglebrook School (where he was “Best All-Round Boy”), Phillips Academy Andover, Bates College, Holy Cross, and M.I.T.’s Sloan School, where he was awarded the M.I.T. Corporate Leadership Award in 1976. Davis also served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II. After a few years of living in Indiana with his young family and working at the Amos Thompson Corporation (a molded plastics firm owned by his father-in-law), he was able to return to Nashua while still serving as a sales rep for the same company. After five years in sales and a brief stint at the White Mountain Freezer Company (where his grandfather had been President), Davis followed his father and grandfather (Lester Thurber) into banking, carrying on what would become a family tradition spanning more than a century. Always proud of his NH roots, he echoed his father George Freeman Thurber’s respect and appreciation for the diversity and hard-working nature of Nashua’s population.
With a reputation for financial brilliance, at age 39, he became the President of the Second National Bank. In 1969, he became President and Chief Operating Officer of the Bank of New Hampshire after the merger of the Second National Bank with Mechanicks National Bank of Concord and Manchester National Bank. This new bank would quickly grow into the largest commercial bank in the state. After winning a historic proxy fight in the early 1980s, Davis emerged again as Chairman and CEO of the Bank of New Hampshire and went on to lead the bank through many years of growth and financial stability.
During his long career, Davis was recognized as a NH business visionary who had a keen perspective on the emerging direction of interstate banking. His philosophy was “In order to survive, prosper, remain strong, and to meet new challenges, it is imperative for the bank to expand, branch out, and to merge, or to acquire other banks.” Ahead of his time in his preemptive approach to growth, Davis was instrumental in defining and organizing the path forward for the next stage of NH banking. Successfully navigating the tumultuous atmosphere of New Hampshire’s speculative banking environment in the 1980s and 90s, Davis’ approach was in marked contrast to most of his regional banking competitors. Notably, in 1990, he steered the Bank of New Hampshire on a triumphant path over federal banking regulators that secured the institution’s survival as the largest independent community bank in the state. This preserved jobs and increased public confidence, resulting in unprecedented record bank deposits.
A respected community leader who prioritized the needs of small local businesses, Davis worked diligently to ensure that banking services kept pace with the evolving needs of its customers. He was committed to prudent, diversified, and conservative lending policies which stuck to the fundamentals of shareholder value, customer service, community orientation, respect for employees, and stability of the banking institution. To Davis, integrity was the cornerstone commitment of his life and his career.
In 1995 at the age of 70, Davis retired, completing 45 years in the banking industry. His career spanned decades of challenging financial times for banks, all of which he negotiated with finesse and determination. It is certain that he will be remembered as a vital business and community partner in Nashua’s rapidly evolving growth in the late 20th century, but perhaps more, he will be remembered as a lifelong gentleman who exuded modest grace. He was, above all things, kind. In his long and generous life, Davis received all people and all situations with equanimity.
In addition to years of service to the Nashua community through his banking career, Davis was active in many local and state organizations across his lifetime. A partial list includes: The Twenty Associates, Rotary Club of Nashua, Masonic Order (Rising Sun Chapter, 33rd degree), The Nashua Area Development Group, Nashua Country Club, and the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepard. He was also a Trustee of The Charles H. Nutt Fund, Currier Gallery (Manchester, NH), Strawberry Bank (Portsmouth, NH), and Suburban Cemeteries, as well as a Board member for First Federal Savings and Loan Association, St. Joseph’s Hospital, YMCA, and Big Arts of Sanibel, FL (also on the Finance Committee). In addition, Davis was a Director of the Whitney Screw Co, Nashua Gas Service, Energy North Inc, and the Pennichuck Corporation, as well as a Founder of the Squam Lakes Science Center, and President of both the NH Bankers Association and the Squam Lakes Association.
Davis loved New Hampshire and for years he and his wife, Pat, divided their time between Nashua, the Lakes Region, and the NH Seacoast. An avid skier and boater in earlier years, Davis enjoyed the White Mountains, Squam Lake, and Newfound Lake. In later years, Florida offered a respite from the New England winters, and Davis and Pat spent the colder months on Sanibel Island and in Ft. Myers, FL. As a lifelong Red Sox fan, Davis particularly loved that his favorite baseball team had their spring training in Ft. Myers and he could catch an occasional practice or game.
A consummate gentleman, Davis will be remembered by his family and friends as a loving husband, a dedicated, loving, and humorous dad, stepdad, and grandfather, a stalwart friend, and an innovative, but compassionate businessman.
Services for Davis P. Thurber will be private. Remembrances may be posted online through the Davis Funeral Home at https://www.davisfuneralhomenh.com.
In lieu of flowers, the Thurber family would be honored by donations to: Nashua Arts Center https://www.nashuacommunityarts.org, Squam Lakes Science Center https://www.nhnature.org, or Big Arts (Sanibel, FL) https://bigarts.org.