Notable People List

James Dempsey - Co-Founder of Squire Sanders & Dempsey

12819 Lake Shore Boulevard
James Howard Dempsey
James Howard Dempsey

James Dempsey and Andrew Squire, who worked together at Estep, Dickey & Squire, joined Judge William Sanders to establish the firm of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in 1890. For the next thirty years, Dempsey practiced law for the firm in Cleveland.

James Howard Dempsey was born on March 29, 1859 in Shelby, Ohio, the son of Colonel John and Martha Dempsey. He received his early education from Shelby public schools followed by the preparatory college course at the Gilmore Hall Grammar School in Gambier, Ohio. He then attended Kenyon College. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1882, he went on to study law at Columbia University.

During his summer vacation in 1883, Dempsey worked at the Cleveland firm of Estep, Dickey & Squire. Persuaded to stay at the firm rather than return to school, he continued his studies under Judge Charles J. Estep, the senior partner. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1884 and became a partner in the firm in 1886. He stayed with the firm until 1890.

Dempsey married Emma Norris Bourne on September 24, 1885. She was born on April 19, 1861, in Hyannis Massachusetts to Ebenezer and Olivia Bourne, from a distinguished New England family. The original Bournes settled in Cape Cod around 1630 as missionaries to the Indians. Emma and James had two sons: John Bourne Dempsey born on September 26, 1888, and Ernest Cook Dempsey born on March 15, 1890.

Emma died on March 14, 1893. James met Ada Melissa Hunt who was a companion to Seville Samantha Morse, widow of Jay Morse, who lived closeby at 12725 Lake Shore Boulevard. James and Ada married on October 30, 1915, in Detroit. She was born on March 9, 1879, on a farm in Westminster Township, Ontario, Canada. She left Canada at age 20 to study nursing at Lakeside Hospital in Cleveland.

Ada and James had three children: James Howard Jr., born on October 18, 1916; Isabel (Chamberlin), born on October 30, 1918; and Louise (Leinroth), born on November 27, 1920, five months after the death of her father. All three children attended the Bratenahl School.

Dempsey was actively engaged in the business life of Cleveland, serving as president and director of the Factory Site Company and the Mogul Mining Co.; president and director of Toledo and Southeastern Railway Co.; director of Bourne-Fuller Company, Glidden Varnish Company, Grasselli Chemical Company, Kelly Island Cable Co., Ohio and Western Lime Co., United States Radiator Corporation, Union National Bank, and Webb C. Ball Watch Company.

Devoted to improving education, Dempsey served on the board of trustees of University School, West End School, and his alma mater, Kenyon College, which honored him with an LL.B. degree in 1912. He was also on the board of trustees of the Lake View Cemetery Association. He was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, a charter member of The Country Club, and a member of the Hunt, Tavern, Union, University, and Yacht clubs and the University and Bankers clubs of New York.

James died on May 2, 1920, in Cleveland. Ada lived across the street at 12814 Lake Shore Boulevard until her death on October 6, 1948.

James, Emma, and Ada are buried in Lake View Cemetery.