Village Leaders

James Davis - Managing Partner Squire, Sanders & Dempsey

12521 Lake Shore Boulevard
James Cox Davis 1971
James Cox Davis 1971

In 1946, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey recruited the forty-one-year-old James Davis to head their litigation department. Within twenty years, he was named managing partner. His recruiter, John B. Dempsey, introduced his new law partner to Bratenahl village life.

In 1956, Mayor Norweb appointed James Davis to the five-member planning commission to replace Ernest Dempsey. Davis, a relative newcomer to the village, was a born leader with an intimidating and brilliant mind. Davis brought a new perspective, recognizing that “Bratenahl was a gem that was about to go down the drain.”

Based on James Davis’s encouragement for a reasonable amount of redevelopment, he persuaded the council to take the first step.

Davis was appointed to replace Theodore Thoburn on Bratenahl Village Council in 1957 after Thoburn had moved from the village. Davis continued to serve on Bratenahl Village Council for twenty-five years from 1957 through 1981.

In 1958, The Urban Land Institute (ULI) presented a detailed report concluding that Bratenahl could survive only by a dramatic increase in property tax and construction of a mixture of high-rise apartments, townhouses, and “junior executive” homes. James Davis, the council president, believed the village council needed to end debate and take action.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, in partnership with then-Mayor William Klein, Davis led Bratenahl through different periods of its growth. Both men realized that the village had to encourage development to exist, but it had to be accomplished in a planned, orderly fashion with the ultimate long-term goal being the preservation of village life as it was.

If Mayor Klein could not finesse a situation, the cigar-chomping, beetle-browed Davis played hardball.

The construction of Bratenahl Place accomplished the goal. This development doubled the population and tax base of the village, yet still met the high standards established by Bratenahl leadership.

Davis also realized that the future of Bratenahl required continuity of leadership. In 1976, he told Mayor Klein that the time had come for them to step down and make room for able younger villagers to assume responsibilities.

After leaving the council, Davis became a member of the Planning Commission. He was a significant contributor to the 1981 Planning and Zoning Code.

Jim Davis spoke his mind and had a talent of condensing a long series of thoughts in very few words. He was a reporter’s delight when he summarized an overpriced underdone “planning update” by a village consultant as “the same rubbish we heard before.”

James Cox Davis was born on April 9, 1905, in Des Moines, Iowa. Davis attended George Washington University, in Washington D.C., receiving both his bachelor's degree and a law degree.

Following college, He practiced law with his father in pre-war Des Moines.

Davis was a born leader. Rising from U.S. Army captain to colonel during World War II, he helped to develop plans for supplying D-Day invasion troops and later assisted with the implementation of the Marshall Plan.

James Davis died November 21, 1986, following a series of strokes one month earlier. He was buried in Lake View Cemetery.