In Memoriam: UConn Law Professor Emeritus Clifford Davis

A combat veteran of World War II known for his wit, humor and ability to make the driest cases interesting, Professor Davis passed away at the age of 96.

Professor Clifford Davis

Professor of Law Emeritus Clifford Davis.

Professor Clifford Davis, who taught at the UConn School of Law from 1969 until his retirement in 1997, passed away in June at his home in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Davis was born in Dallas, Texas, on Dec. 5, 1925. He earned a BA from the University of Chicago in 1949 and an LLB from Harvard Law School in 1952. He began his academic career as a teaching fellow at Harvard and then joined the faculty of the University of Iowa School of Law in 1961. He taught there for seven years before joining the UConn School of Law faculty. He also served as a visiting professor at Southern Methodist University from 1974 to 1975.  His scholarly research and teaching focused on property, torts, workers’ compensation and water rights.

UConn Law Professor Richard Pomp said Davis was “a character, with lots of Southerner in him and a dose of Yankee dry wit. He covered a lot of courses and was always intellectually restless and curious.”

Christopher Rooney ‘84 JD, remembers Davis as an engaging and humorous teacher whose personality enlivened even the dullest material. “He often used stories – apocryphal or not – that all started with ‘My granddaddy who was a lawyer for the railroad in Texas …’ ” Rooney recalled.

Rooney, now at partner at Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP, said he has found himself repeating those stories, telling young associates, “I had a professor in law school named Cliff Davis whose granddad was a lawyer for the railroad …” Rooney said that when he began teaching as an adjunct at UConn Law, he applied much that he learned from Davis in his own teaching. “He was a great inspiration to me, and he will be warmly remembered by those of us who had the good fortune to know him.”

Before he attended college, Davis served in the U.S. Army, fought and was injured in World War II. After obtaining his LLB he served as a briefing attorney for the Texas Supreme Court. At UConn Law, he served as advisor to the Connecticut Law Review and his writing was featured regularly in “Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Review Opinions.”

Davis frequently wrote about personal risks and injuries, awards, self-employment, medical costs and disabilities, and burdens in compensation. In 1977 he testified before the Congressional Subcommittee for Consumers of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation about product liability insurance.

He was a lover of classical music and played French horn in several orchestras in his spare time.

He leaves his wife, Dorothea; daughter, Cynthia Davis Strausbaugh; son, Mitchell Davis; stepdaughter, Dr. Carola Westerman; and stepson, Gerold Westermann. He was predeceased by his stepson, Dr. Robert Westermann.

Condolences may be sent through In lieu of flowers, friends are asked to consider a donation to the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra.