TRIBUTES to a former councillor and Lord Mayor of Swansea have been paid by family members and politicians.
John Davies, who died aged 74, was a councillor between 1983 and 1996 and then again from 1995 to 2012.
He served as cabinet member for social services and was Lord Mayor in 1999-2000.
Mr Davies was the middle of three brothers and spent his first six years at the Elysium buildings, High Street, before the family moved to a new council house on Clwyd Road, Penlan.
There he discovered a passion for football, made life-long friends, and attended the former Penlan Multilateral School before going to university – the first person in his family to do so – to study politics and economics.
His younger brother Robert Francis-Davies – a long-serving Swansea councillor himself – described John as a hard-working, cautious person who never missed a day at school.
He said John was part of a lucky school group who attended the 1960 Rome Olympics and were introduced to something that wasn’t staple fare in Penlan at the time – wine at the dinner table.
John and his pals formed a football team called Conway Rovers, with John adopting the nickname Willis – named after Swansea City player Arthur Willis – because there were two other John Davieses in the team.
He went on to work for the Department of Health and Social Security in Neath Port Talbot and became branch secretary of a civil service trade union, through which he met his wife Sarah, who was chairman of the union’s Swansea branch.
They married in 1989 – for both it was their second marriage – and had a daughter, Rachel, a year later.
Mrs Davies said they enjoyed their jobs in the old DHSS, which is now the Department for Work and Pensions.
“It wasn’t life or death but it was money for people who were on the breadline anyway,” she said.
The couple lived in the Mansion House, Ffynone, during their year as Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, ferrying Rachel to primary school in Morriston and attending all sorts of functions and receptions.
Mrs Davies recalled: “The public rooms were obviously lovely – they were for entertaining visitors from abroad – but the flat upstairs was fairly basic.
“But we had a housekeeper, who was lovely, because there were so many functions – four or five a day at least.”
Mr Davies was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2008.
“It was slow to start with, as the years went by it became debilitating and then overwhelming,” said Mrs Davies, of Ynysforgan. “It is a horrible disease.”
Mr Davies passed away on Christmas Day 2020, leaving his wife, daughter Rachel, brother Robert, and Rachel’s sons Kaden, 12, and Jegan, 8.
“John was funny, he was intelligent, and he always seemed to know the right thing to do,” said Mrs Davies.
Speaking at full council last Thursday presiding member, Cllr Des Thomas, described Mr Davies as a dear friend. Council leader Rob Stewart said he was a hugely influential character and outstanding cabinet member.
“John represented the best of everything we aspire to be,” he said.
Opposition leader, Lib-Dem councillor Chris Holley, said Mr Davies would help at any time he could and was a credit to Swansea when Lord Mayor.
Conservative councillor Paxton Hood-Williams said when he was elected, Mr Davies had a fine reputation as cabinet member for social services.
“As I got to know him I found he was a very kind and considerate person as well,” he said.