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John MacDougall Davis


1914 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
John MacDougall Davis Obituary
John MacDougall Davis

Born February 20, 1914 in Seattle, Washington Died April 17, 2015 at Mercer Island, Washington "A good life, well lived."

Born in Seattle, John's first home was a small house on the north end of Mercer Island where he lived with his parents, David Lyle Davis and Georgina MacDougall Davis. His father's work as a banker drew the family to settle in Spokane, WA, where John graduated from Lewis and Clark High School. John thrived there as a Boy Scout, becoming an Eagle Scout in less than two years. He followed the Boy Scout Oath and Law throughout his life, and from these values emerged his own ethic of helpful service to all.

John was married to Ruth VanArsdale Davis for 70 years, before she died December 20, 2009 on Mercer Island. He is survived by their six children: Jean Davis Burpee (Jon) of Roseburg, OR; John M. Davis Jr. (Barbara) of Port Orchard, WA; Bruce Davis (Mary) of Seattle, WA; Ann Davis Palmason (Jon) of Mercer Island; Margaret Davis Philbrick (Rob) of Mercer Island; and Betsy Davis of Port Hadlock, WA. John is also survived by 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, who reside in WA, TX, CA, and Japan. John's parents, David Lyle Davis and Georgina MacDougall Davis, and his brothers David T. Davis and Donald C. Davis, predeceased him. Family was always of primary importance to John and Ruth, and they introduced their children to a wide range of outdoor activities: mountain climbing, boating, fishing, scouting, hiking, shellfish gathering, swimming, farming, and gardening. Music, including playing piano, French horn, and trumpet, was a source of pleasure during John's entire life, and this he also shared with his family.

John entered the University of Washington in 1932, graduating in 1936 with a major in English Literature and a minor in Political Science. He was a member of the Husky golf team and Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. He entered Law School at the University of Washington in 1937 where he served on the school's Law Review and was president of the Law School student body. He graduated in 1940 near the top of his class, was accepted into the Order of the Coif and briefly taught at the Law School before entering private practice as a lawyer in Seattle.

John began his long and distinguished law career in 1940 as an associate and solo practitioner. He soon developed a partnership that evolved throughout his professional life: as Davis and Riese; as Howe, Davis & Riese; as Howe, Davis, Riese & Jones; as Davis, Wright, Todd, Riese & Jones; as Davis, Wright, and Jones; and as Davis Wright Tremaine, which has now become a law firm of approximately 500 lawyers with nine offices around the United States and in Shanghi, China. John's peers found him exemplary in his ability, his integrity and his service to his clients and community.

His clients included banks, insurance companies, hospitals and clinics, and other corporations, and he served on several corporate boards. He was primary outside counsel for Seattle First National Bank for about 40 years, and served in several Bar Association roles. John's leadership roles also extended to numerous community organizations: Mercer Island School Board, King County School Directors Association, The Mountaineers, Pacific Science Center, Virginia Mason Hospital Association, Northern Life Insurance Company, UW Law School Alumni Association, and Whitman College.

John's wide-ranging interests led him to join many other organizations, including the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, American Alpine Club, Mountain Rescue Council, Council for Washington's Future, Atlantic Council, World Peace Through Law Legal Society, Nature Conservancy, Seattle Power Squadron, Municipal League, Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Rainier Club, Seattle Golf Club, Seattle Foundation, UW Alumni Association, YMCA, and Mercer Island Presbyterian Church.

John looked forward to whatever each new day might bring. He loved his family, his work, his independence, the great out-of-doors, and the wonders of the universe.

"All is well, safely rest, God is nigh."

The Davis family thanks Covenant Shores administrators and staff for providing John with heartfelt support and comfort during the last months of his life. Memorial service to be held on Sunday, May 17th, 2015 at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church, 3605-84th Ave S.E., Mercer Island, WA, 98040. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made through a gift to or through service to those in need.
Published in The Seattle Times from Apr. 21 to Apr. 26, 2015
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