Sweet Dreams Are Made of This

Arts, Sports, Business and Philanthropy: the America of Jack Davies and Kay Kendall

Philip Bermingham

Walk into the contemporary Prospect Street home of Jack Davies, and you are struck by a impressive bachelor pad which has a lofty view of the Potomac River and Washington landmarks. But Davies has not been a bachelor for many years and has put his shiny, super-cool, fun perch in Georgetown on the market--likely because he wed Kay Kendall last June 15. “We’re oldlyweds,” Davies quipped. At the end of a seven-year courtship, he popped the question to Kendall in April last year atop the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. “I really was surprised,” she said. “I was not expecting it.” Davies said, “I got bonus points for the location.”

Both married before, Davies and Kendall tied the knot in the living room. They have been moving between their homes since and decided it was time for a new place of their own together. Each an A-lister philanthropist after years of careers and raising children, Davies and Kendall represent one of Washington’s unique species: the power empty-nesters who appear to be working and playing as hard as ever and use their business savvy and money to foster non-profit goals. Theirs is a love story decades in the making. They met in 2000 through Katherine Bradley and were surprised by their complementary and common interests as well as mutual friends, some regularly seen at major charity galas.

Kendall is known around the city as the former board president of the Washington Ballet. She now works with CityDance, which has programs in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, and THEARC (Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus, run by Building Bridges Across the River) in Anacostia. “I love CityDance and THEARC,” she said. “Both are involved in transforming people’s lives and have great leadership.”

Davies is best known as the founder of AOL International as well as that guy who puts the inflatable hockey player or Santa Claus on his rooftop, easily seen from Canal Road and Key Bridge. Well, he is a co-owner of the Washington Capitals -- now hot into the playoffs -- by being a partner with Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates the Capitals, Wizards and Mystics as well as the Verizon Center and Patriot Center. “The Stanley Cup playoffs involves white-knuckle stuff,” Davies said. “There is a whole new generation of kids who have embraced hockey. And it’s every sports fan’s dream to own a team -- and they’re my friends.”

“I love how graceful hockey can be,” Kendall said. And you know Davies has gone to more than his share of ballets.

Our story may seem as simple as the dancer who met the sports fan in a mirror image embrace that goes beyond synchronicity. Yet, there’s more to it -- more than the fact that both spent summers at Martha’s Vineyard for decades, before ever meeting each other.

Their friends and acquaintances, sometimes co-workers, and fellow fundraisers include names like Bradley, Cafritz, Case, Casey, Fernandez, Johnson, Kogod, Leonsis, Lerner, Mars, Ourisman, Pollin, Rubenstein or Snyder (sorry to leave out some names; the list would be too long). These Washington heavy lifters and givers bring their lifelong passions to the public arena, most of whom focus on education to lift all boats. Along with those who simply volunteer, they represent the lifeblood of philanthropy in America.

Such pro-social motivators make for a naturally happy couple. Kendall said of her husband: “We play every day. I love his sense of humor. He is someone I trust. I feel very safe with Jack.

If there’s a problem, he’ll fix it. I admire him. He is startlingly nice.” Davies said of his wife: “She’s beautiful, of course, but it is beauty from the inside. She is game to try anything. We laugh a lot. She enjoys life. I love her joie de vivre.”

Like many Washingtonians, the couple arrived from elsewhere: she from Chattanooga, Tenn., by way of Memphis with a son and daugh- ter and a husband who worked for President Jimmy Carter. Kendall’s father owned an oil and gas company in the Southeast and named it for her -- Kayo Oil Company.

“Like everyone, I stayed,” Kendall said. “When the Carter Administration was over, I wanted to connect to older Washington -- not the political part.”

A literature major at Hollins University and dancer in her early years, she stayed with dance, and it led to her years with the Washington Ballet. “I have been an American mother for foreign dancers,” said Kendall, who has also been involved with the Maret School. Now, it’s CityDance and THEARC, “a great state-of-the- art faculty. I’m so proud of what they’re doing in that part of town.”

At her 65th birthday party, Washington Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre told the Washington Post: “She’s fabulous. She combines a Michelle Pfeiffer elegance with a Jennifer Lopez party-girl sensibility.”

“Kay Kendall embodies Septime’s vision of ballet,” said Mary Bird, who covers the social scene for the Georgetowner and also gives of her time and resources to charities. “Her support of THEARC and other outreach efforts to bring dance into everyone’s life is admirable and to be applauded on toe shoes or simply by artistic support.”

Davies hails from Meadville, Pa., and is proud of his Midwestern roots. Meadville is home to Allegheny College, where there are Davies family scholarship programs, and is the hometown of actress Sharon Stone.

A University of Rochester marketing grad, Davies worked for General Electric, Citicorp in London and then RCA Europe. It was America Online that brought him to Washington. He interviewed with AOL co-founders Steve Case and and Jim Kimsey in 1993. He went on to found AOL International, “going from nothing to operating AOL in nine countries and over $1 billion in revenues worldwide in less than five years,” Davies said. “I spent a lot of time in an airplane.” He retired four days before the Time- Warner merger with AOL in 2000. “Timing is everything,” he smiled.

Soon enough, he turned to philanthropy, working with non-profit visionary Mario Morino and Venture Philanthropy Partners. Davies has worked there as board member and executive committee member: “Since 2000, VPP has raised over $80 million from over 70 families to invest in growth plans for high-performing non-profits in the national capital region.”

Davies said he felt guilty being so busy with work and family: “I hadn’t done enough to give back to the community.” Such prin- ciples came from his parents. His father -- John Llewellyn Davies, Jr. -- owned a car dealership in Meadville, Pa., and then got into commercial real estate and set up programs for Allegheny College, which his mother Ellie Davies still oversees. His first job at 14 was washing cars for his dad’s business.

Along with Teach for America and CharityWorks, Davies is involved with the See Forever Foundation and the Maya Angelou Charter School, where a John L. Davies Media Center will be built.

“If I could wave a magic wand, I would want every child -- and especially those from low-income families -- to receive an excellent education from high-performing schools, staffed by outstanding teachers,” Davies said. “I believe that education is the only way we can break the cycle of poverty in our society.”

And it looks like this couple -- along with lots of help and other work from their Washington friends -- are indeed starting to fracture that cycle. And the key to the best non-profits? “Great leadership,” Davies and Kendall said together.

If you doubt the Force is with them, consider the 1952 film “Curtain Up,” starring English actress Kay Kendall, which included a screen- writer by the name of Jack Davies. Spooky.

As for spooky movies, it should be noted that “Exorcist” author William Peter Blatty once owned and lived in Davies’s house. The home itself is about three doors from the famed Exorcist steps at 36th and Prospect. Neither Davies nor Kendall have seen the 1973 film. Webre did give Davies a copy of the movie script for the home.

Nevertheless, that great four-level man roost at 3618 Prospect Street will get another owner. Davies’s son Derek will miss his cool music- themed bedroom in D.C. The 25-year-old Davies has his own record label based in New York. “It’s a joint venture with Columbia Records,” Davies the father said. “His mother and I are very proud of him.” When Davies worked for RCA Europe, he dealt with the Eurythmics.

Kendall also has a son in the music business, Syd Butler, bassist for art rock group Les Savy Fav, and whose wife Amy Carlson is an actress on the CBS drama “Blue Bloods.” Kendall’s daughter Katherine is a dancer (trained with TWB), actress and photographer.

By the end of the year, the children will have to visit mom or dad in Kalorama, where Davies and Kendall bought a house together on Tracy Place.

Meanwhile, Prospect Street neighbors are asking: but who will inflate Santa Claus or the hockey player or Jack the Bulldog on the roof? Hey, they’re asking $4 million. It could be you with that great view, hot tub and inflatable. Give Davies’s friend and real agent Mark McFadden of Washington Fine Properties a call. Luke Russert just bought Matt Donohue’s old place next door.

“What I love about the neighborhood is its energy,” said Davies, whose place is across from 1789 Restaurant and, yes, almost next to Georgetown University.The couple can handle it. The night before their interview and photo shoot with the Georgetowner they saw Rihanna at the Verizon Center. Not bad for a guy, 63, and a gal, 68.

“We’re very blessed,” Davies and Kendall agreed.

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Thu, 27 Nov 2014 06:46:55 -0500

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