Honor For Bill Davis
Family, friends and firm members gathered at the N.C. Bar Center on Wednesday, June 11, to dedicate the William K. Davis Justice Fund in honor of Bill Davis, past president of the N.C. State Bar.
His sons, Kearns Davis of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard in Greensboro and Ward Davis of the Charlotte office of Bell, Davis & Pitt, provided remarks at the dedication ceremony.
Kearns Davis recalled taking a trip to the courthouse with his father when he was a child. He said he didn’t remember which courthouse or the particulars of the case, but he was nevertheless paying attention.
“We walked out after the hearing and across the street there was the little restaurant that you could find in any North Carolina county seat,” Kearns Davis said. “As we neared the restaurant, somebody walked up – a panhandler.
“Now, I know that this is a common experience for a guy in a suit downtown, but I didn’t know at that time. I was a boy visiting a grown-up world, but I was paying attention. Dad treated the man with respect, looked him in the eye, talked to him and bought him a sandwich."
“Dad didn’t teach me how to be a lawyer,” Kearns Davis continued, “he taught me something much more important. He taught me what it meant to be a lawyer, what it means to be a lawyer, what it means to be a citizen, what it means to be a father.”
“Something we talk about a lot,” Ward Davis added, “something about which he has a very strong opinion, is what makes good lawyers. How do we find good lawyers, how do we become good lawyers, how do we make ourselves better lawyers, how do we identify good lawyers, what are the qualities that make a good lawyer?
“When I think of what Dad would say, three things come to mind. One, you have to have good judgment, because we’re counselors. That is what we get paid to do. You can’t give wise counsel without good judgment.
“Two, you have to be yourself. You have to be true to yourself and your values. You have to find your own voice; you can’t be somebody else. You can learn from others but at the core you have to be true to yourself and your values.
“And third, you have to treat everyone with dignity and respect, whether they are opposing counsel, whether they are someone you are cross-examining, whether they are your own client or the panhandler on the street, you have to treat people with dignity and respect.”
Bill Davis is a native of Raleigh who graduated from Davidson College with a degree in history in 1960. He proceeded to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he earned an MBA in 1961.
Prior to entering law school, he served U.S. Army as an officer and paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division.
Upon leaving active duty in 1963, he entered law school at Wake Forest University. He remained a reservist during law school, serving with a unit of the U.S. Special Forces based at Fort Bragg. He graduated from Wake Forest in 1966, passed the North Carolina bar exam, and joined the law firm of Deal, Hutchins & Minor in Winston-Salem.
In 1980, Davis joined Frank Bell and Wrennie Pitt in the founding of Bell, Davis & Pitt, P.A., in Winston-Salem. Davis served as president of the firm for more than two decades.
Davis has been married to the former Myrtie Moon Bilbro for 47 years. They have three children – Kearns Davis of Greensboro, Ward Davis of Charlotte and Joanna Davis Andrews of Winston-Salem – and nine grandchildren.
A Justice Fund is a named endowment that honors those North Carolina lawyers, past and present, whose careers have demonstrated dedication to the pursuit of justice and outstanding service to the profession and the public. One or more contributors may establish a Justice Fund to honor a colleague, family member or friend.
Lawyers designated and honored by the creators of a Justice Fund receive special recognition in the form of a permanent plaque and biographical sketch maintained at the N.C. Bar Center. One or more contributors may establish a Justice Fund to honor a colleague, family member or friend through a combined gift of $35,000.
The NCBA Foundation Endowment was established in 1987 to enable the foundation to fund programs and activities to better serve the public and the legal profession. As of June 2014, the endowment had awarded grants totaling $4.5 million for 576 projects.