Village Leader

John Bourne Dempsey II

12819 and 12611 Lake Shore Boulevard and One Bratenahl Place
John Bourne Dempsey II
John Bourne Dempsey II

John Dempsey II was the moving spirit and the visionary behind the Bratenahl Development Corporation. As president and later chairman of the Bratenahl Development Corporation, John championed the luxury high-rise Bratenahl Place apartment and condominium complex on the old Lake Shore Country Club property. In 1959, he hosted the first meeting of Bratenahl Development Corporation in his Edgewater home.

Dempsey helped break ground for the project in February 1965. The project boosted village revenue at a critical time, preventing tax increases and eliminating services.

John Bourne Dempsey was born into a family of lawyers on November 24, 1925. He grew up at 12819 Lake Shore Boulevard. His grandfather, James H. Dempsey, was a founder of the prestigious Squire Sanders & Dempsey law firm. His father, Ernest Dempsey, and an uncle, John Bourne Dempsey, also were lawyers at the Cleveland firm with homes in Bratenahl.

Dempsey went to Harvard in the ROTC and then in the Navy. The war stopped before he got his commission, went to sea for a year, and the back to Harvard to graduate in 1947 and became a management consultant in Montreal. He free-lanced articles about Canadian affairs for The Plain Dealer and published the Dempsey Canadian Newsletter, a biweekly for American firms doing business in Canada.

John married Marie Therese Gavel in Montreal in 1948. Marie, a native of Montreal, was born on March 1, 1926. They had met while vacationing with their families in Murray Bay, Quebec. She graduated from Sacred Heart Convent and was fluent in both French and English. John and Marie had six children: Louise (McKean) born on May 11, 1949, Ernest Davis was born on October 27, 1951, James Howard III was born on May 29, 1960, Richard B. was born on December 16, 1962, Gertrude (McLean), was born on April 1, 1956, and Marie (Carter) was born on March 15, 1954. Gertrude, James, and Richard attended Bratenahl School.

Dempsey left the Bratenahl Development Corp. in 1969. Two years later, he bought the historic Manoir Richelieu hotel at Murray Bay, Quebec, overlooking the St. Lawrence River. Dempsey sold the hotel in 1975. Two years later, in the summer of 1977, John and Marie sold Edgewater at 12611 Lake Shore Boulevard and moved to John's Island in Vero Beach, Florida, where John worked to develop the John's Island Club residential community. John and Marie returned to Bratenahl in the spring of 1994, taking up residence in One Bratenahl Place, where they lived for the remainder of their lives.

Marie died on November 2, 1997. He remarried in 2000 to Denise Hayman who died a year later.

On April 30, 2009, John died in an automobile crash as he was leaving the New York State Thruway near Syracuse. He was buried alongside Marie in Lake View Cemetery.