KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Rich Davis’ family says all his life, the only thing the KC Masterpiece founder wanted to do was help other people. In the wake of his death this week, Davis' son is speaking about his father's legacy and all of the ways Davis will be remembered.
When asked to pick out his father's best qualities, Rich Davis II had a tough time narrowing it down.
Davis said, "My dad was a really unusually bright and talented guy."
Rich Davis, 89, died Tuesday after what his family calls a complete life, full of history and broad talent.
"When he was four or five years old, he sat down at the family piano and basically began to play," said Davis.
Davis said his father was a child piano prodigy.
"With that talent, I think a lot of people would be just thrilled to maybe make a career of that," said Davis.
He said when his father reached his twenties, the accomplished musician decided he wanted more.
"Instead of entertaining people, I'd like to heal them. He set his sights on becoming a doctor," said Davis.
So Rich Davis studied and became a family psychiatrist, Dr. Rich Davis. Not the typical beginnings of someone who would one day be remembered for his role in the world of barbecue.
"He got this idea for a food product. It was mushap. A ketchup mustard combination," said Davis.
That idea didn't stick but Dr. Davis' next food venture, his famous barbecue sauce, became a household staple.
"People loved the barbeque sauce. Thought it was terrific. The best they'd ever had," he said.
Davis said his father had no business background but had a sensibility and intellect that gave him the perspective he needed to prosper.
"Because he had no advertising budget, he thought, 'You know the way I'll stand out is I'm going to have a black and white label,'" said Davis.
A label and sauce that pioneered the way people dressed up their barbecue.
"He was very proud of the sauce and thought, 'You know what, that's my masterpiece.' And so being in love with his hometown the way he was, he thought okay, 'it’s a KC Masterpiece,’" said Davis.
The family sold the business in the 1980s, but it has always remained a point of pride.
Davis said, "We've never got used to it. It was one of those things we never took for granted, it was always, 'Hey look!' And you'd see it on a display or on a TV ad."
His family said Dr. Davis was a man of giving, grace, and a genuine love for Kansas City.
"His creativity, his brilliance, and his really, just joy. He led a very full, wonderful life and we'll remember him forever, and miss him. Forever," said Davis.
The Davis family is hosting a memorial service at 1 p.m. November 21 in the Wesley Chapel at Church of the Resurrection. Dr. Davis leaves behind his wife, children, and ten grandchildren.