Obituary: Robert Crowe Davis, Scottish-educated business executive with ExxonMobil

Robert Crowe Davis, businessman. Born: April 8 1950 in Motherwell. Died: March 7 2021 in Keerbergen, Belgium, aged 70

Robert Crowe Davis had a passion for football

Robert (Bob) Davis was a driven and respected businessman, working for ExxonMobil across the globe.

His father, Robert Davis, was the youngest of 15 children and served in the Royal Air Force as a driver.

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Returning to Gerrards Cross in London after a posting in what is now known as Yemen he met Jane Crowe, a native of Motherwell who was serving within theWomen’s Auxiliary Air Force .

The couple would wed in Motherwell in 1949 and on 8 April 1950 in Strathclyde Maternity Hospital, Robert Davis was born, followed soon afte r, in 1953, by his brother Ronald.

Early years were spent in Croydon. Here, whilst his mother recovered from an operation, Bob and his brother Ronald lived with a local family, the Hercocks, before being sent to stay with his grandparents in Motherwell. Later his mother and father would relocate to the town.

He was enrolled in Calder Primary School and subsequently attended Dalziel High School.

Here Bob shone in athletics as a sprinter and in football became a stalwart in defence for the 1st XI, reaching the final of the U18 Scottish Schools Cup.

Bob ’s academic achievements were no less impressive and in 1968 he became the first of his family to attend university, enrolling to study Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh.

Throughout his university career, where he obtained a Bachelors degree and then PhD in Chemistry, Bob was an active member of Edinburgh University Football Club.

Captain of the 1st XI in 1970, he was awarded university honours with a Green and a Blue and picked to represent Scottish Universities in international matches.

Other noteworthy achievements included qualifying for the Scottish FA Cup, in which they eventually lost to Queens Park Football Club at Hampden.

His passion for football would continue throughout his life; coaching local under-8s and 10s as well as playing for Royal Brussels British Football Club in his later years, all the while steadfastly supporting both Motherwell and Crystal Palace Football Clubs, often in spite of their results.

After graduation Bob married his first wife, Patricia, and began work at Esso Chemical within a logistics division supporting marketing and sales of industrial solvents.

Here he gained his first taste of business within a global company; with increasing exposure to work within the United Kingdom and Europe.

Thriving in this new environment it was not long before his acumen and drive was noticed and promotions soon lead to a move in 1984 to Brussels, where he would act as the company’s Solvents New Business Development Manager.

By this time two new additions to the family were present, Ewan and Lindsay, and before long two further children announced themselves, Calum and Aileen.

With his family alongside Robert continued to carve out an ever-growing international presence in what would become ExxonM obil, with postings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Houston, Texas.

No matter the country, though, Bob was always identifiable with his trademark tartan tie and dry sense of humour. Colleagues rarely forget his framed cartoon adorning the wall outside his office bearing the words “ Work hard… Or else!”

His eye for talent was also notable and in addition to pioneering growth into China and streamlining business within Europe and the United States as Global Technology Vice President, he was known for nurturing and guiding future leaders of the company.

Retirement in 2010 provided him with the chance to settle permanently in Belgium, a place he had always felt at home.

Here, with his second wife Brigitte and her two sons Mark and Erik, his family continued to grow, and over the next decade Bob became affectionately known as “Opa” to his now six children and ten grandchildren.

Together with Brigitte he continued to travel the world, visiting family and enjoying the sights of countries ranging from France to Oman to Mauritius.

At home Bob was happiest strolling through the local village market or enjoying his morning coffee and paper in the local cafes.

Sadly, in 2020 Bob was diagnosed with canc er. He bore his illness with a stoicism honed and evidenced throughout his life, often quoting his literary hero, Bernard Cornwell’s Uhtred: “Destiny is all” and saying his had been written.

Up until the very end his focus was on Brigitte, and his only regret that he did not have more time with her and the rest of his family.

Through them and all those he has touched over the course of his life, his legacy continues.

CONTRIBUTED