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Jon S. Davis

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Jon S. Davis, a cornerstone of both his extended family and the Massachusetts legal community, died July 14th at age 70 of glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. He approached his work with a gentle studiousness and enduring passion. He didnt just practice law | he was an arbiter of it, a fierce defender of a profession he considered noble. Unlike most attorneys I know, Jon loved being a lawyer," said Joel Stein, a longtime friend and colleague. "It was all about professionalism for Jon. As far back as 1970, as a Peace Corps worker in Ecuador, Davis went to work every day in a suit and tie, a habit that continued throughout his career. He didn't like that I didn't wear a tie to work, and would frequently tell me I needed a haircut, Stein said. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, The Cube spins in Regents Plaza. For more than half a century, few have traversed the University of Michigan campus without touching it. Davis chose The Endover, as the sculpture is officially named, when he was President of the class of 1965. He oversaw a competition to select just the right piece for the central public square. Michigan alum Tony Rosenthal presented The Cube design, based on his Alamo sculpture in New York Citys Astor Place. The design, Rosenthal told Davis, was meant to literally draw the public in. Today, the sculpture is an iconic feature on the University of Michigan campus. It has provided a shared experience for a generation of students, faculty members and visitors. We knew right away it was what we wanted, Davis said from his Hingham home in June. It just worked. Jon Stuart Davis was born in Ottawa Hills, Ohio, outside Toledo. He fondly recalled his summers spent at Camp Nebagamon, in the North Woods of Wisconsin. Upon graduation from Michigan, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he earned his law degree from the George Washington National Law center in 1968. While at GW, he served as a staff member to President Lyndon B. Johnsons Kerner Commission, which examined the 1967 riots that occurred in cities across the country. In addition to offering recommendations for more equitable job and housing policies, the Commission warned that racism was causing America to move toward two societies, one black, one white separate and unequal. Also while in D.C., Davis was introduced to Jane Carmen at a party thrown by Jon's friend from summer camp. They were married in 1968, and the same year joined the Peace Corps, moving to Quito, Ecuador. There Jon volunteered at the U.S. Agency for International Development studying the impact of loan programs on local farmers. Upon return from the Peace Corps in 1970, Jon was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar, and several years later founded his own real estate firm in Marshfield, Driscoll & Davis, which later was renamed Stanton & Davis. He was a born lawyersmart, an untiring advocate and always concerned with ethics, Stein said. Among other roles, Davis served as president and board member of the Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts (REBA), along with the American Legal & Financial Association. In the early 1990s, Davis, Stein said, found a professional calling: combating the practice of law by non-lawyers. Jon became the first chair of REBA's taskforce on this issue in 1993, and remained devoted to the cause over the next 20 years. In 2013, Davis received the first REBA Excellence in Professionalism Award. This Award recognizes the Honoree's integrity, passion and dedication to the highest standards in the practice of law, the awards inscription states. The Award's recipients understand that the legal profession is a higher calling imbued with noble and aspirational goals of service | to clients, to the community and to the profession." Davis was also a community leader and familiar presence on The South Shore | a fixture at the Cohasset Golf Club. In addition to serving on the board of two local banks, he co-founded the Talking Information Center, a Marshfield nonprofit that provides broadcasts and consumer information for the visually impaired, in 1978. He served on its board for 36 years. "He was really our compass," said Ron Bersani, the organization's Executive Director since its inception. "Jon always made sure we were headed in the right direction and doing it the right way. Whenever you needed anything, Jon would always listen. He was much more than a boss he was a great friend." The qualities Davis possessed that were so admired in his professional and civic work shined even brighter privately. He relished his time at home with Jane in Hingham and with his daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren in Los Angeles. On some Friday mornings, Davis sat in his car in the Stanton & Davis parking lot, waiting to hear the end of StoryCorps -- an oral history project on NPR enabling people to share and preserve stories from their lives. Jon spoke fondly of the programs implicit message of shared humanity: every life matters. In addition to his wife, Jane, he is survived by daughters, Hadley Rierson and Carrie Lebovich, a sister, Beth Karren, his brother, Sam Davis and four grandchildren. Donations in Jons memory may be made to the Talking Information Center, 130 Enterprise Drive, Marshfield, MA 02050 or ticnetwork.org. Memorial services will be held on Sunday, July 20, at 2:00 pm at Larsen Hall, Derby Academy, 56 Burditt Ave., Hingham.

Published in The Hingham Journal from July 17 to July 24, 2014
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