Chilliwack – Justice William (Bill) Davies passed away last weekend in Chilliwack after a lengthy illness. Davies was best known for his role, presiding over the Frank Paul inquiry. Davies was called out of retirement in 2007 to lead the Davies Commission of Inquiry which resulted in the recommendation to establish the Independent Investigations Office which investigates officer-related incidents of death or serious harm in BC.
In December 1998, 47 year old Frank Paul, a First nations man, was picked up by Vancouver Police for public intoxication.VPD refused to put him into the drunk tank where he would have stayed warm and dry overnight and sheltered from the rain and cold. Instead he was left out in a cold, wet alley, where he died of hypothermia during the night. Davies ruled that action unacceptable.
Crown prosecutors decided not to lay charges against the two Vancouver police officers involved, but Davies ruled that B.C.’s Criminal Justice Branch needed an overhaul to its conflict-of-interest policies that were brought up during the inquiry.
Chilliwack based Crown Prosecutor Paul Blessin told FVN: ” He has been a family friend since before I was born. He was the judge who presided over my call to the bar. I used to spend many a warm summer day at his place at Cultus lake. Sad that he has passed away.”
From Henderon’s Funeral Homes:
The Honourable Mr. Justice William H. Davies, Q.C.
Born at home in Chilliwack, B.C., Bill had three great loves in his life: his family, his hometown, and the law. To say he excelled at all three would be an understatement. Graduating from UBC Law School in 1955, BIll returned to Chilliwack to article with Wilson & Hinds Law Office (now Baker, Newby LLP), becoming a partner when he was called to the Bar a year later. The other draw to return home was a beautiful lady named Judy. While practicing law Bill was active in the community as a member of the board of the Fraser Valley College, Chair of the Cultus Lake Park Board, first Chair of the Civic Properties Commission for Chilliwack, and in his various provincial and national positions with the Canadian Bar Association.
Appointed to the County Court of New Westminster in 1978, Bill started his new role as a judge. It was a career that would see him appointed to the Supreme Court of BC in 1982, and later to the North West Territories, positions which saw him travel extensively until he “retired” in 1999. While on the bench he was President of the Canadian Judges Conference where he worked to establish health benefits for Canadian Judges, among other initiatives. Bill also spoke out when needed, and even paneled a jury in the washroom of the Evergreen Hall to emphasize the need for a new Chilliwack courthouse. Bill was called out of retirement in 2007 to lead the Davies Commission of Inquiry which resulted in the recommendation to establish the Independent Investigations Office which investigates officer-related incidents of death or serious harm in BC.
Away from the courts, Bill spent his time golfing, fishing, playing tennis and, as a young man, duck hunting. Sunny afternoons at the ranch with family, friends, the occasional martini, and a menagerie of animals were always cherished. In addition to driving his tractor and ATV, Bill enjoyed the adventure and culinary experiences that came with travelling. In later years more time was spent at Chain Lake in Princeton where he matched wits with a pesky and persistent beaver.
American poet, Maya Angelou, reminds us that people may forget what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. That was our Bill, a husband, father and friend who made so many feel so special.
A special thank you to Dr. Paul Basson and the many health care professionals at VGH, St. Paul’s, Chilliwack Hospital and Hospice. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Chilliwack Hospital Foundation or a charity of choice. A memorial will be held in Chilliwack to honour Bill’s life and legacy, details to be announced.
Bill is survived by his wife of 55 years, Judy (nee Stevens), son Steve (Kelley Newlove), daughter Jackie (Duane Visser); sister, Marian D’Avignon; brother, Gordon Davies (Lynn); nephew, Greg D’Avignon (Anna). He is predeceased by his parents, Jack and Mable Davies and brother, Bob Davies (Marie).Arrangements under the direction of Henderson’s Funeral Homes & Crematorium Ltd., Chilliwack, British Columbia.