John Dempsey - Partner of Squire Sanders & Dempsey

12821 Lake Shore Boulevard
John Bourne Dempsey
John Bourne Dempsey

John Dempsey was a senior partner in the law firm of Squire Sanders & Dempsey. He joined the firm in 1915 and was made a partner in 1935. From 1923 to 1927 he served in the Ohio House of Representatives.

John also served 22 years from 1936 through 1957 as a member of the Bratenahl Council. He was recognized as the leader of the council, not only officially as its elected president but in all aspects. He brought exceptional professional skills and a keen intellect accompanied by sound and fair judgment.

John Bourne Dempsey was born in Cleveland on September 26, 1888, to James and Emma Dempsey. He was educated at University School, graduating in 1907. From there he attended Yale University, graduating with B.A. and M.A. degrees in 1911. His legal education was received at Harvard Law School graduating cum laude with an LL.B. in 1915.

John entered the law firm of Squire, Sanders, and Dempsey in 1915 but was called to the Ohio National Guard in 1916. He received a commission as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army and was promptly called into service on the outbreak of World War I. He received a commission as a captain in the field artillery. He reached the front line on September 25, 1918, the night that the Argonne offensive opened. He was continually on the front line until the Armistice.  John was mustered out of the Army in May 1919 and returned to Squire, Sanders & Dempsey.

At age 40, John married Jeannette Johnson in 1928. She was born on July 26, 1902, to Homer and Louise Pope Johnson. Her famous ancestor was Jacque Cortelyou, a town planner of Manhattan. Jeanette graduated from Laurel School and Wellesley College in 1924 and continued graduate work in English literature at Oxford, Western Reserve, and Columbia universities. Her brother, Philip Johnson, was a world-famous architect. John and Jeannette had three sons: Bourne Pope, born on September 10, 1930, Alfred Johnson born on June 2, 1932, and Andrew Squire, born on March 24, 1934.

Jeannette was appointed to the Bratenahl Planning Commission in 1958 and served for two years.

She joined the Junior League of Cleveland in 1928 becoming president and regional director of the Association of Junior Leagues. She helped found the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Society for Contemporary Art. She chaired the Family Services Association and Cleveland Sesquicentennial Women’s Committee. She was also a trustee of her alma mater, Wellesley College.

John’s chief interest outside of law was education. He worked actively for the Yale University Scholarship Committee. In 1952, Mr. Dempsey received the Yale University Medal Aware in recognition of outstanding services to the school. He was recognized for spurring Cleveland alumni to establish more permanent scholarships than had been given by any other association.

Dempsey was a director of the Bourne Fuller Company, Cleveland Varnish Company, Ohio and Pennsylvania Coal Co., the Enamel Products Co. The Estates Holding Co., the Mohican Estates Co., and the Lakeside and Marblehead Railroad Co.

In addition, he was president and trustee of Lake View Cemetery Association, president and trustee of the Cleveland Society for the Blind, president and trustee of University School, and trustee of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

He was a member of the Cleveland, Ohio and American Bar Associations. Social memberships included The Country, Chagrin Valley Hunt, Kirtland Country, Tavern, Union and University clubs and also the Yale Club of New York.

John Dempsey died in Cleveland on May 20, 1963, at age 74. Jeannette died on March 11, 2005, at age 102. Both John and Jeannette are buried in Lake View Cemetery.