Ronald Norwood Davies was born December 11, 1904, in Crookston, Minnesota, the son of Norwood S. and Minnie M. (Quigley) Davies. He completed his elementary education at Crookston, as well as Fargo, North Dakota. In 1922 he graduated from Central High School in Grand Forks. Davies continued his education at the University of North Dakota where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Liberal Arts in 1927. Three years later, he received a law degree from Georgetown University, Washington DC.
Davies launched his long legal-judicial career in 1932 with his election as judge of the municipal court for Grand Forks, a position he held for eight years. The following year he was appointed to the North Dakota State Board of Pardons. In 1940, Davies went into partnership with lawyer Charles F. Peterson of Grand Forks.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 interrupted Davies' career. He was called into military service in the United States Army on January 15, 1942 and entered as a first lieutenant. He was discharged from active duty October 7, 1946 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Following the war, Davies returned to private practice until June of 1955 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him United States District Court Judge for North Dakota. Two years later, on August 26, 1957, Davies was temporarily assigned to the Eastern District of Arkansas where he handed down the now-famous decision, Aaron v Cooper, which ordered the racial integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The following year, Georgetown University honored Judge Davies for his "courageous decision" at Little Rock.
In 1966, Davies rendered another decision in what he termed "one of my most important cases," that of Stromsodt v. Parke-Davis and Company. The case, which was tried in Grand Forks, involved a damage suit against Parke-Davis, one of the nation's largest drug manufacturers, for an unsafe vaccine administered to Shane Stromsodt in 1959 at the age of five months. The child, who suffered irreparable brain damage, was represented by prominent torts attorney, Melvin Belli. On September 29, 1966, Davies awarded $500,000 to the seven year old Stromsodt.
On August 27, 1971, Davies achieved the status of Senior Judge. Some of the most significant opinions rendered by Judge Davies during his tenure include:
(1) Aaron v. Cooper, (Little Rock racial integration case), 156 F. Supp,. 220, Sept. 21, 1957, affirmed sub non Faubus v. United States 254 F. 2d 797, April 28, 1958, cert. denied. 79 S. Ct. 49 358 U.S. 829, 3 L. Ed. 2d. 68, Oct. 13, 1958.
(2) New York Life Insurance Company v. Dick, 252 F.2d 43, Feb. 7, 1958 reversed 79 S.Ct. 921, 359 U.S. 437, 3 L.Ed.2d 935, May 18, 1959.
(3) Stromsodt v. Parke-Davis and Company, 257 F.Supp. 991, Sept. 29, 1966, affirmed 411 F.2d 1390, June 9, 1969.
(4) Merchants National Bank and Trust Co. of Fargo v. United States, 272 F. Supp. 409, Sept. 11, 1967.
In civic affairs and professional organizations, Davies was quite prominent. In 1933-1934 he served as president of the Grand Forks Cavaliers, (forerunner of the Junior Chamber of Commerce). Also during the 1930s he served as president to the North Dakota Young Men's Business Association. In 1947 he became Executive Director of the North Dakota State Bar Association and in 1953 he was elected president of the Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce. During the early 1950s Davies was a member of the faculty of the School of Law at the University of North Dakota.
Beginning in the 1930s, Davies has held membership in the following organizations: the Grand Forks Knights of Columbus, the American Legion, the Elks, the American Red Cross, Sigma Nu (social fraternity), the Order of the Coif (honorary society for attorneys), the Grand Forks County Bar Association, the North Dakota State Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
On October 10, 1933, Davies married Mildred M. Doran. They had five children: Timothy, Thomas, Mary Jo, Catharine, and Jean. In 1961 the Davies Family attended graduation ceremonies at the University of North Dakota for three particularly rewarding reasons: Timothy received a Juris Doctor degree from the School of Law; Thomas earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Judge Davies delivered the commencement address and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the School of Law.
Judge Davies was honored with the Sioux Award by the UND Alumni Association in 1979 and was elected into the UND Athletic Hall of Fame in 1980. He received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Award from the North Dakota Peace Coalition in 1986, and, in 1987, he received the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award, North Dakota’s highest honor.
Mildred Davies died April 17, 1994, while Judge Davies died April 18, 1996 in Fargo. On August 6, 2001, the Grand Forks Federal Building was renamed and dedicated in his honor.
Additional materials were donated by:
Sandy Slater, Department of Special Collections, in 1998 (99-2310), August 2001 (2001-2528), and January 2003 (2003-2590)
Ardell Tharaldson, United States District Court, Bismarck, North Dakota, in August 2001 (2004-2703)
Connie Nelson, Fargo Public Schools, on June 25, 2013 (2013-3236)
Rosi Kloberdanz, North Dakota University System, in November 2013 (2013-3236)
Katie Davies Mark, West Fargo, North Dakota, on December 22, 2017 (2017-3369)
The Judge Ronald N. Davies Papers have been divided into seven series:
Series 1: Little Rock Integration Case
Series 2: United States District Court for North Dakota
Series 3: Day Books
Series 4: Correspondence
Series 5: Biographical Materials
Series 6: Miscellaneous
Series 7: Photographs