Davis, McCleskey receive Vanderbilt Distinguished Alumni Awards

Vanderbilt Engineering alumni Doug Davis and Sam McCleskey received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Vanderbilt University School of Engineering during the Engineering Celebration Dinner held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Buckhead on Tuesday, May 22.

The School of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes distinguished achievement, significant service, excellent character and a reputation that reflects well on the School.

President of Diversified Metal Fabricators, Doug Davis obtained a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Vanderbilt in 1965. He joined the Navy in the late 1960s and helped design deep submersibles, including a third-generation /Trieste/, which descended to the bottom of the Marianas Trench in the early 1960s.

Upon honorable discharge from the Navy, he launched a successful gourmet restaurant in Florida, and he joined Atlanta’s Bankhead Enterprises in 1971. At the time, Bankhead operated a railway maintenance division, and in 1978 Davis decided to hope his own railway maintenance company.

DMF today is a leading U.S. manufacturer and supplier of high-rail equipment used to build and maintain railroads.

In Atlanta, Davis has been a sponsor of the annual Susan G. Komen Foundation fund raiser at Ansley Golf Club and has hosted the closing party during recent years. DMF sponsors several youth baseball teams in the Atlanta area, and the company contributes to the Sheppard Spinal Center and Junior Achievement of Atlanta.

For Vanderbilt School of Engineering, he has established the Doug and Penny Davis Scholarship for engineering students and has supported the building fund.

Sam McCleskey is chairman of McCleskey Construction, headquartered in Atlanta since 1963. He graduated from Vanderbilt with a degree in civil engineering in 1951 and subsequently served three years on three Navy ships.

After receiving his honorable discharge, McCleskey returned home to Memphis to be an independent survey engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He moved to Louisiana in 1956 with Gulf Oil Company and two years later joined the J.C. Milne Company as vice president of construction.

He founded McCleskey Construction in 1961, concentrating on building mausoleums. He also opened an architectural division, McF Architects. The company has built mausoleums and cemeteries in 34 states.

One of only six people in the nation included in the Suppliers Hall of Fame for the cemetery and funeral industry, McCleskey has also been active in the Georgia Cemetery Association and served for six years on the Atlanta Alzheimer’s Association Board. He has served as an elder in the Presbyterian Church for more than 45 years, in New Orleans, Atlanta and in his retirement community in Destin, Fla.

For the Vanderbilt School of Engineering, he established the McCleskey Honor Scholarship and served on the Engineering School Campaign Committee.

As Distinguished Alumni, Davis and McCleskey become members of the School of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni.