Milton Davis will be honored posthumously with the Conway Downtown Award of Distinction by the Conway Downtown Partnership on Wednesday during the organization’s annual meeting and luncheon.
The honor was decided by a vote of board members last month.
“Milton was an early adopter of revitalization of downtown Conway when he bought the building at 1120 Oak St. in 1986,” said Downtown Partnership Director Kim Williams. “The award is given to individuals or organizations that have made a lasting impact in downtown Conway through development, advocating and leadership.”
Davis was a well-known figure downtown for decades, even claiming the title of “Mayor of Toad Suck Square” — the exact center of town. The building at the corner of Oak and Front streets was where his Edward Jones office has been located since the purchase of the building.
On April 22, 2018, the 86-year-old husband to Claudia Davis and father to four, died.
The recognizable white-haired man who loved his town and its people traversed downtown daily, making his rounds downtown at coffee shops and storefronts and at the local newspaper on a nearly daily basis. The “YeloDog” license plate on the little yellow car parked in the same spot near the square confirmed his presence.
“Milton was someone you could always count on to be a champion for all things Conway,” said Kelly Sublett, Log Cabin Democrat publisher, Downtown Partnership board member and friend to Davis. “I knew if he was stopping by, it was time to take a break and chat for a few minutes. He always contributed to my daily successes. I was honored to know him.”
Davis served on numerous boards, was chairman of the Conway Chamber of Commerce, received the Lions Club Fellow Award and the Rotary Paul Harris Award for humanitarian service, was actively involved in his church and more.
“Milton was grateful for Conway,” Claudia told the Log Cabin in April.
She said the city has been a wonderful place to live and raise a family and a place in which they felt compelled to give back.
Claudia said her husband loved building his business in Conway.
“By the way, he loved making money,” she said, matter-of-factly. “He was not averse to making money but he wasn’t greedy. He shared. This was a very generous, benevolent man. He didn’t want to make money just for its own sake. It’s what you can do, the good you can do with it.”
Milton’s son Granger said his dad got the idea for Toad Suck Square after eating dinner in at Overton Square — which had previously been just a bunch of rundown buildings in Memphis, Tennessee, and said Milton wanted to bring that concept to Conway.
Granger explained Milton said New York has a Times Square, Memphis has an Overton Square and he thought Conway should have a Toad Suck Square, and before he knew it, it was happening.
“When Tab Townsell was elected mayor, he, I think, bumped into Tab out here on the street and said, ‘Tab, I want to congratulate you but ... you may be the mayor of Conway but don’t forget I’m the mayor of Toad Suck Square.’ It was a running joke,” Granger said.
Davis often reflected on his downtown conversations and relationships in his Toadsuck Tidbits cartoon — a regular staple in the Log Cabin Democrat. He also published the toons in books for sale over the years.
Davis’ longtime friend Bill DeVore said he often helped with the cartoons. With those, he said, Davis was committed to doing a good job, and while he wanted to make people laugh, was always able to slip in a little lesson to make people aware of the human condition and what was going on around them.
“We will miss him,” DeVore said.