Law School Bids Farewell to 'Babe' Davis
NOVEMBER 20, 2012—The legal and art communities lost a devoted friend and generous supporter on Nov. 17, 2012, when Lillian S. Davis, known by many as "Babe," passed away in Minneapolis at age 95. Babe was the Law School's inaugural recipient of its Advancement of Excellence Award, presented to her in 2002 by then Dean E. Thomas Sullivan in honor of her "extraordinary contributions to the advancement of excellence in teaching, research and scholarship at the University of Minnesota Law School."
Babe and Julius E. Davis (’36) were married in 1940 in her hometown of Mason City, Iowa. After their honeymoon they returned to Minneapolis, where "Julie" had a practice, called Robins and Davis, with his best man and classmate Solly Robins (’36).
Julius, a well-known Twin Cities lawyer and civic leader, also was a committed champion of the University and the Law School. He received the University's Alumni Service Award in 1972 and the Regents Award for exceptionally valuable service in 1977. When the Law School outgrew its location, he co-chaired the building campaign that culminated in the 1978 opening of the Law School's current West Bank home. The Davis Faculty Common Room (339) was named in recognition of the efforts and gifts of the Davis family and law firm.
When Julius passed away in 1979, family and friends established the first endowed chair at the Law School to honor his devotion and service: the Julius E. Davis Chair in Law. The chair rotates annually among faculty members in recognition of teaching and research excellence, and many Law School scholars, including former Dean Sullivan, have held the honor.
Each year Babe sponsored a reception for recipients of the Davis chair, at her home for many years and later at the Minneapolis Club. The 2011 reception was held in the newly remodeled Davis Faculty Common Room, where Babe, escorted by her grandson Tim Davis, cordially welcomed many past chairholders. The receptions not only continued her husband's legacy but strengthened her own bonds with the University, which she served as a board member of University of Minnesota Foundation from 1979-85 and a trustee emeritus until her death.
Babe had a longstanding interest in the University of Minnesota's art collection, dating back to her time as a student, and during their travels together, she and Julius accumulated an extensive modern art collection. Babe served in leadership volunteer roles at the Weisman Art Museum, was a founding member of its Colleagues Advisory Board, and contributed liberally, through donations of works of art and loans from the Davis personal collection. The Law School Library and halls are also enhanced by donations from their collection.
In addition to her husband, Babe was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Jill Elizabeth Davis. She is survived by her sons Stephen and Lawrence Davis; five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.