She calls herself a free spirit, but Lanette Davis has a remarkably stable and loyal streak in terms of her service to Plymouth Harbor. It was forty-two years ago that her friend, May Byrd, suggested she interview for a job at Plymouth Harbor. May had been working in Housekeeping Services and thought that her young friend was just the person Plymouth Harbor needed. She called and got an interview that day. The next day Lanette received the news “you’ve got a job!” She was just 22 years old and it was December 1972.
Lanette is originally from Marianna, Florida and the oldest of 9 children (5 girls and 4 boys). She had left Marianna a while before and came to stay with a cousin in Sarasota, which seemed like a fine place to be. However, not long after she had landed this first job at Plymouth Harbor it was necessary for her to take a leave of absence for a family emergency back in Marianna. With family as a top priority, she upheld her responsibilities, but as soon as she could she returned to Sarasota and the job at Plymouth Harbor. Marking 1974 as the start of her long tenure, she, with the entire Plymouth Harbor community, celebrated her 40th anniversary on the 30th of April. Lanette Davis, with her 40 years, is the longest serving employee in the history of Plymouth Harbor.
When asked how she came to stay for so long, she noted the caring culture of the entire housekeeping staff. Lanette spoke of residents with whom she had long relationships, who became family to her. John and Fran Aulhammer come to mind with many others now gone. Ruth Entrekin is a notable friend as well. And it was not just the residents that she came to love. Many children and grandchildren of residents brought joy to her life and she to theirs.
In fact, when Lanette had her 30th employment anniversary, all of her residents signed a Shining Star that read: “For thirty years Lanette Davis has been a Shining Star of Plymouth Harbor and the lives of the residents of Colony Sixteen have been blessed by her loving, caring ways, her sparkling care of our apartments and her unfailing good nature. She has brought sunshine into our lives and made it a pleasure to look forward to the hours she spends with us. We lovingly congratulate her on her attaining this outstanding record of dedication toPlymouthHarbor and wish her many more years of good health and happiness.”
Residents also gathered on her 40th anniversary to shower her with love and appreciation. On this occasion, and when she was first surprised by a visit from CEO Harry Hobson and the entire senior staff early in the morning on April 29, Lanette was handed a bouquet of yellow roses, her favorite flower.
During that party, Ish Pedersen said she and her husband Norman felt very lucky that Lanette had been taking care of their home for 10 years. Of course she added, “She smiles all the time and gives wonderful advice!”
Surprised and feeling “a bit overcome,” Lanette graciously accepted the adulation and returned the love by saying, “You all are a ray of sunshine in my life!”
Away from the bustle of the gatherings, Lanette recalled the many fun times with her “housekeeping family.” These were the signs of her free spirit being expressed. She speaks of friendly pranks of teasing of her co-workers as she stirred up ways to have fun. In her own way, Lanette laid down her own set of rules. If someone came to her singing a tale of woe she’d say, “We’ll have none of that!”
“I believe in having fun and keeping things bubbly,” she added. “I don’t want any of this depressing negativity.” Now, that’s the likely source of this ray of sunshine.
It was one of her friends and co-workers, Bea Davis who introduced her to her husband now of 28 years. Thanks to Bea for arranging that meeting with her husband’s brother Bobby Davis, Sr. Together that have parented their blended family of six: Tameka, Dewey Jr., Bobby Jr., Lisa, Yolanda, and Angela and has several grandchildren.
Her oldest daughter, who lives nearby in Sarasota, is her partner in crime as the enjoy many of the same leisure time activities. Well, one in particular: shopping.
“We’re two peas in a pod,” Lanette says. They like to go anywhere as long as there is shopping involved.
In fact, Lanette has said that if she had all the money in the world she would buy a cruise ship and cruise from coast to coast with her entire extended family. What would they do in each port of call? The world travelers would shop until they dropped!
Then she says she would return to her own island and write a book titled, “How Plymouth Harbor Turns”. We all know, that will be some story!! Congratulations, Lanette!