Larry C. Davenport |

Larry C. Davenport

Former South Lake Tahoe resident Larry C. Davenport, who for twenty years operated Davenport Distributing Company, the only locally owned beer distributorship serving parts of five California counties serving the Tahoe Basin, died at Desert Memorial Hospital in Palm Springs July 12, 2008 at the age of 84.

He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Grace Hall Davenport, who he married in 1982 in the parlor of the historic home behind the American School of Diamond Cutting on Main Street in Gardnerville, by former Carson Valley resident Leonard Ludel, who coincidentally passed away the day after Mr. Davenport. Mr. Ludel performed the ceremony and his wife, Betty Ann, signed the wedding certificate as witness.

He is also survived by his son, Larry Montraville Davenport of Gardnerville, who managed Davenport Distributing for many years; daughters Cheryl Lynn Gunter of Helena, Mont.; and Sandra Fay Waterstreet of Northridge, Calif.; along with 8 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. At the time of his death, Mr. Davenport had recently spent time with his 11-month old great-grandson, Jackson Mitchell Grimley, but had yet to meet his newest great-grandchildren, twin girls Payton Reese Davenport-Murrish and Brekyn Riley Davenport-Murrish, who were born on June 10, 2008.

Larry Connie Davenport was born in Nebraska November 21, 2003 and named after baseball player Connie Mack. He graduated from Winside High School. He married Phyllis Mitchell in June, 1942 in Nebraska and they moved to Southern California shortly thereafter where he managed a service station in Hollywood. They later lived in Panorma City in the San Fernando Valley and raised their family there. The first Mrs. Davenport passed away in march of 1985.

On Aug. 21, 1944 he enlisted in the US Army and served during WWII at Wendover Field, Utah where he witnessed the preparations for the launching of the first atom bomb. His father, O Montraville Davenport, served in the US Army during WWI; his great-grandfather, Montraville Davenport, served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War; and his great-great-great grandfather, Joseph Davenport, served in the Army during the War of 1812.

Both his brothers, Jack and Montraville, served in the armed services during WWII; his nephew Mike Davenport, served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War; his grandson, Larry Mitchell Davenport, served in the Marine Corps. 4th Force Reconnaissance Unit out of Stead during the Gulf War; and his great-grandson, Jarret Michael Thomas, is currently serving in the Navy Seabees in Afghanistan. His American lineage can be traced back to the 1600’s and his ancestors include Davy Crockett and Nobel peace prize winner and founder of the ACLU and NAACP, (Laura) Jane Addams.

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After spending many years in the beverage industry working for the Theo Hamm Brewing Company, in 1961 he became the Vice President and General Manager of Ace Beverage Company, the Budweiser wholesaler for the city of Los Angeles.

On Feb. 27, 1976 he began a 20-year partnership with the founder of Ace Beverage, John Edward Anderson, for whom the UCLA Anderson School of Business is named. On that date they together opened Davenport Distributing Company in South Lake Tahoe. It was during his tenure at Davenport Distributing that Miller Lite Beer, the original light beer brewed by a major brewer, was launched. His company was instrumental in the success of the light beer category in Lake Tahoe, along with Miller Genuine Draft beer, and Davenport Distributing was the exclusive franchiser for brands such as Heineken, Corona, Anchor Steam, as well as a variety of waters and sodas.

He and Mr. Anderson sold the business in 1996, remaining lifelong friends, and a few years later he retired full time to his winter home in Palm Springs.

He enjoyed traveling and he and his wife traveled the country and the world in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Their last major trip was a cruise to the Panama Canal in 2005. He enjoyed summertime picnics in the back yard of the Gardnerville home of his son, Larry and his wife, Gail. He was, until the very end, an avid newspaper reader, and his major source of enjoyment over the past several years has been traveling to Northridge to spend holidays with his daughter, Sandra and her family, attending television church services with his wife Grace, and visiting with his family. His favorite meal was creamed chicken.

His entire family gathered in Palm Springs on July 19, 2008 for a celebration of his life and a catered dinner party. His ashes were later interred at the Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, which is the church he and his wife Grace affiliated with.