Village Leader

John Bourne Dempsey II

12819 and 12611 Lake Shore Boulevard and Two 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 graduated from Harvard University 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. She 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, Richard B., Gertrude (McKlean), and Marie (Carter). Louise and Ernest attended Bratenahl School.

Dempsey left the Bratenahl Development Corp. in 1969. Two years later, he bought the historic Manoir Richelieu hotel at Murray Bay, overlooking the St. Lawrence River. He sold the hotel in 1976 and moved a year later to Vero Beach, Florida. He helped to build the John’s Island community there.

In 1977 John and Marie split their time between Two Bratenahl Place and John’s Island near Vero Beach, Florida where John managed the resort property. Marie died on November 2, 1997. Dempsey remarried Denise Geoffrion in 2000. She died a year later on June 2, 2001.

John Dempsey died on April 30, 2009, in an automobile crash as he was leaving the New York State Thruway near Syracuse. Both he and Marie are buried in Lake View Cemetery.