Jeri started her Girl Scout journey in the 1940s when she became a Girl Scout Brownie in Missouri. From an early age, she became totally immersed in Girl Scouting—thanks to her mom who planted that spirit as her troop leader. She moved up through the Girl Scout ranks and achieved the highest award a girl could earn at that time, First Class. Jeri attended many Wider Opportunities, now referred to as Destinations, that included a trip to National Center West, a Girl Scouts of the USA program and training center located in Wyoming. Jeri was also an avid swimmer and stepped up to lifeguard at Girl Scout camp when called upon. She was involved in Girl Scouting through high school and into college where she chose to lead a Girl Scout Brownie troop as part of a sociology class, and continued long after the class ended.
In 1959, as a young woman of 20, she attended the Girl Scout Senior Roundup held in Colorado Springs in the role of patrol leader/counselor. She was selected by her council because of her leadership and experience. The theme was “A Mile High, A World Wide” and Jeri was among the 8,500 who attended. She described it as an amazing event that was filled with memories and one that helped set her sights on becoming a professional Girl Scout.
Jeri at the Girl Scout Round Up in Colorado Springs, 1959
Jeri with a group of teen girls at GSUSA’s National Center West in Wyoming in the 1970s
Jeri in a wagon at GSUSA’s National Center West in Wyoming (the property closed in 1989)
After college in 1961, she joined the Heart of Missouri Girl Scout Council as a Field Advisor. By 1964, she had taken the role of executive director! She stayed there until 1981, when she made the decision to replant herself in Newport News, Virginia, and took a job as an Area Field Manager for the newly formed Colonial Coast Council, a council formed through the merger of Heritage Girl Scouts and Greater Tidewater Girl Scouts. She oversaw the Peninsula Service Center in that role and did such an outstanding job that the executive director at that time, Nellie Hayse, promoted her to assistant executive director in in charge of council operations.
When Jeri retired in 2002, Nellie wrote, “Jeri has been the glue for staff, the person that kept communications going, who assured we had paperwork, systems, procedures, plans and calendars. She was a sounding board for me and for many other staff. She was the overseer of personnel policies and procedures, managed the human resources function and served as extra ear and mind to many on difficult issues. She will be seriously missed.”
Throughout her professional Girl Scout career, she was also a member of the Association of Girl Scout Executives—known as AGSES. She was honored by AGSES and inducted into their Hall of Fame. She served on the national AGSES Board of Directors as Section II Chair. She also served for two terms on the National Pluralism Committee during the time the Pluralism Plan was developed, and in many other leadership roles.
Jeri (far left) with GSCCC staff Jan Tyler and Tracy Keller
Geraldine “Jeri” Davenport
Jeri was a strong supporter of all things Girl Scouting and made philanthropic donations to many projects, including the swimming pool at Camp Darden. Whether through her involvement at AGSES, with her staff team, or at Grace United Methodist Church where she was a dedicated member, people sought her out for counseling and advice. So many benefited from Jeri’s friendship and guidance—both personally and professionally.
Jeri passed away peacefully on Friday, April 28, 2023 at her home. View Jeri’s obituary at legacy.com.
Classical announcer and content producer for WHRO FM loved being a Girl Scout.
A loving look back and celebration of the life of a truly dedicated Girl Scout.