J. Bratton Davis was born 100 years ago today, on October 27, 1917, at Hartsville SC. He was a graduate of the University of South Carolina and a 1940 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law. He continued graduate study at Harvard Law School in 1941. He was commissioned as a line officer in the United States Navy serving during World War II principally in the South Pacific Theater of Operations.
Judge Davis returned from military service to practice law with the firm of Graydon, Davis and Suber. In 1969 he was appointed the first full-time bankruptcy referee for the District of South Carolina. Prior to that time the District Court had appointed a number of part-time referees, usually to a division or particular county. In 1973, with the adoption of Bankruptcy Rules, the United States Supreme Court changed the judicial office from referee to bankruptcy judge. Judge Davis continued to serve until his retirement in 2000, including as Chief Judge from 1986 to 2000. Our courthouse is named in his honor.
Judge Davis’obituary, following his October 29, 2004 death, reflected some of his accomplishments and contributions:
In 1948, the Junior Chamber of Commerce named Judge Davis Columbia's Young Man of the Year. He has served as: U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the District of South Carolina (1969–2000) ; Chief Judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of S.C. (1986–2000) ; chairman, State of South Carolina Development Board; Columbia Board of Directors of the South Carolina National Bank; Board of Directors of Security Federal Savings and Loan Association; president of the Columbia Museum of Art; vestryman, Trinity Cathedral; member of the Judicial Conference of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; member of the Security and Facilities Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States; member of the Board of Directors of the University of South Carolina Educational Foundation; member of the Board of Directors of the University of South Carolina Law School Partnership Board; member of the Board of Directors of the Virginia and Donald S. Russell Symposium Committee; member of the Board of Governors of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges; president of the Columbia Kiwanis Club; member of the Board of Directors of the Columbia Chapter of the American Red Cross; member of the Board of Directors of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis; chairman of the Donald Russell Gubernatorial Inauguration Committee; member of the Board of Directors of the Byrnes Foundation; and member of the Board of Directors of the James F. Byrnes Centennial Committee. In 2000, Judge Davis was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the highest honor conferred by the State of South Carolina.