Of the many fans who met with legendary “warrior monk” Gen. James Mattis during his visit to Washington State University recently, perhaps few stood out as much as Rex Davis of Pullman.
That’s because, from 1955-60, Davis was Mattis’ grade school physical education teacher in Richland.
The retired four-star Marine Corps general, who once led the United States’ most high-profile military command, was a student at Jason Lee Elementary School, where Davis had him climbing ropes, doing jumping jacks and playing kickball.
Fifty-six years later, the two were reacquainted when Davis attended a reception held by WSU’s Office of the Provost.
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“I remember how you used to blow that whistle,” said a jocular Mattis, 65.
After teaching PE in grade school and high school, Davis, now 84, became a celebrated tennis coach at WSU, until retiring in 1994.
“I’ve had many, many students over the years,” he said. “But I still remember how well (Gen. Mattis) could climb those ropes.”