In 1887 he was urged to accept the presidency of the University of California, and for three years he discharged the duties of the office with credit.
His interest in education was always great, and he entered with ardor and intelligence into the discharge of his duties as a trustee of the School of Mechanical Arts established by the will of James Lick. As president of the board, he guided its course, and was responsible for the large plan for co-operation and co-ordination by which, with the Wilmerding School and the Lux School (of which he was also a leading trustee), a really great endowed industrial school under one administrative management has been built up in San Francisco. A large part of his energy was devoted to this end, and it became the strongest desire of his life to see it firmly established. He also served for many years as a trustee for Stanford University, and for a time was president of the board. To the day of his death (in July, 1916) he was active in the affairs of Stanford, and was also deeply interested in the University of California. The degree of LL.D. was conferred by the University of the Pacific, by Harvard, and by the University of California.
From his earliest residence in San Francisco he was a loyal and devoted supporter of the First Unitarian Church and of its Sunday-school. For over sixty years he had charge of the Bible-class, and his influence for spiritual and practical Christianity has been very great. He gave himself unsparingly for the cause of religious education, and never failed to prepare himself for his weekly ministration. For eight years he served on the board of trustees of the church and for seven years was moderator of the board.
Under the will of Captain Hinckley he was made a trustee of the William and Alice Hinckley Fund, and for thirty-seven years took an active interest in its administration. At the time of his death he was its president. He was deeply interested in the Pacific Unitarian School for the Ministry, and contributed munificently to its foundation and maintenance.
Mr. Davis preserved his youth by the breadth of his sympathies. He seemed to have something in common with everyone he met; was young with the young. In his talks to college classes he was always happy, with a simplicity and directness that attracted close attention, and a sense of humor that lighted up his address.
His domestic life was very happy. His first wife, the daughter of Captain Macondray, for many years an invalid, died in 1872. In 1875 he married Edith King, the only daughter of Thomas Starr King, a woman of rare personal gifts, who devoted her life to his welfare and happiness. She died suddenly in 1909. Mr. Davis, left alone, went steadily on. His books were his constant companions and his friends were always welcome. He would not own that he was lonely. He kept occupied; he had his round of duties, attending to his affairs, and