EVER SINCE he drove a school bus in his native North Carolina, Joe Davis just loved getting behind the wheel of a big vehicle.

When he came to Philadelphia, he switched from buses to trucks, and eventually started his own trucking company, hauling just about anything that could be hauled, including hazardous materials.

Joe also could be called on to help out wherever needed, including his church and his community. You never heard Joe Davis turn down a request to be of service to others. He pitched in with his trademark smile and happy disposition that endeared him to everyone.

Joseph Lee Davis, owner of the Davis Trucking Co. in Philadelphia, active member of Cornerstone Baptist Church, a Masonic leader and a devoted family man, died of cancer May 14. He was 81 and lived in Clementon, N.J., but had lived more than 20 years in Southwest Philadelphia.

As he was nearing retirement, Joe sold his trucking company, but couldn't face life without a challenging job. He went to work for Meenan Oil Co. in Upper Darby.

Joe was born in Louisburg, N.C., to Mary Davis. He attended school in North Carolina and began his career there behind the wheel of a school bus.

It was also where he met his future wife, Harriett V. Perry. They were married in 1952.

"Joe Davis was a truly nice man who was kind and caring," his family said. "His lovable smile said it all. He always had time for people and didn't say no when he was asked for a favor."

Joe owned his own trucking company for 35 years. The firm hauled construction materials, made oil deliveries to local manufacturing companies and delivered hazardous materials.

He became a member of Cornerstone Baptist Church after arriving in Philadelphia and worked diligently on church activities. He served as president of Usher Board No. 2, as chairman of Men's Day, as a member of the Charity Club and on the board of trustees.

"He thoroughly enjoyed his time with the church," his family said. "It gave him true fellowship and inspiration in his life. He was honored to support the church and was a humble servant of the church."

Joe held several Masonic offices.

"The Masonic services and events made him feel larger than life, and showed him how dedication could have a tremendous impact on one's life," his family said.

"He was a man of few words and was a quiet leader," said his son, Ronald L. Davis. "People told me that he didn't say much, but when he did talk, you knew he meant it."

As his health declined, Joe was less active in his church and community work, but he enjoyed being with family and friends, and got a kick out of gatherings that brought the family together.

Besides his wife and son, he is survived by a daughter, Shirley Davis-Alexander; a granddaughter; and three great-grandsons.

Services: Were Saturday. Burial was at Hillcrest Memorial Park in Sewell, N.J.