In the history of Boulder County Bar Association, there have been many remarkable lawyers who have made significant contributions to the legal profession and to their communities and who served as role models for their colleagues. Four such practitioners deserve to be recognized as being among the greatest lawyers in Boulder County history: Neil King, Joel Davis, Ray Moses and Dan Bernard. Each of these lawyers demonstrated an abiding respect and passion for the law, and extraordinary wisdom and integrity. I would like to thank Peter Dietze (Neil King and Joel Davis), Karl Kumli (Ray Moses) and Anton Dworak (Dan Bernard) for sharing their memories of these remarkable Boulder County lawyers.
Neil King practiced law in Boulder for more than fifty-five years, most recently as of counsel to the Boulder law firm Berg Hill Greenleaf & Ruscitti. He grew up in Boulder as the son of Edward C. King, for two decades dean of CU School of Law. Neil graduated from Boulder High School in 1947. Following high school, Neil enrolled at Dartmouth College where he studied for two years before returning to Boulder and resuming his studies at the University of Colorado. Neil entered law school at CU in 1953 and was awarded his law degree (L.L.B. in those days) in 1956.
After admission to the Colorado Bar, Neil joined Horace “Bud” Holmes in the practice of law in Boulder; a few years later Holmes was appointed county judgeand ultimately became the third judge on the Boulder District Court bench. In 1962, the city council appointed Neil as Boulder’s city attorney – he was thirty years old - a position he held until June of 1965 when he, Guy Hollenbeck, and George Dolan founded the law firm of Hollenbeck Dolan and King with offices in downtown Boulder.
Neil King practiced real estate and land use law, and later on he specialized in land conversation easements. Throughout his professional career, Neil was active in many community projects, such as the Pearl Street Mall and the revitalization of downtown Boulder. In every sense of the word, Neil King was a community leader.
In addition to a superior grasp of the law, Neil’s talents included shaping compromises between disputing parties and thereby avoiding the expense and stress of litigating the matter in court. He was blessed with a strong and pleasing baritone voice which – given his command of the law – had a highly persuasive effect on his clients, adversaries, opposing lawyers and judges. But Neil did not shy away from going to court when no other avenue seemed possible.
In 1964, an area comprising 146 acres of pristine forest land, today known as Enchanted Mesa, was owned by a private party who sought to develop the land as a resort hotel, using Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs as an example. The proposal created a community-wide uproar. King advised the city council that it could if necessary condemn the land to preserve its natural beauty; at the time, Colorado law was not explicit on whether a city’s power of eminent domain extended to open space and parkland. Neil filed the case on behalf of the city of Boulder in Arapahoe County District Court in Littleton. Fred Winner, later appointed to the federal bench in Denver, represented the property owner. The city’s authority to condemn was upheld; title and possession of the land were awarded to Boulder upon payment of the sum of $114,318.00.
Neil King was an accomplished attorney and community leader who was well respected by the community, by his peers and those who came in contact with him. It was a pleasure to deal with him. He passed away on December 12, 2014.
Joel C. Daviswas born in 1936 and grew up in Craig, Colorado, where his father was engaged in the real estate title and abstract business. Early on Joel took an interest in his father’s business, and over time learned the technical side of the business before graduating from high school. In 1954 Joel enrolled at the University of Colorado, College of Engineering, where he studied civil engineering. In 1958, Joel graduated with a B.A. degree in civil engineering and started law school at the University of Colorado in fall of 1959, graduating with an L.L.B. degree in spring of 1962. Shortly thereafter, Neil King, Boulder’s city attorney, hired Joel as assistant city attorney. Two years later, Joel was made manager of the Boulder Office of Transamerica Title Insurance Company, then the leading title insurance and real estate abstract company in Colorado. In 1967 Joel was elected to the Boulder City Council, but given his strong background in real estate title law and his experience as manager of the second largest office of Transamerica Title in Colorado, in 1968 the Denver law firm of Davis Graham and Stubbs made Joel a partner in the Denver office of the firm. At Davis Graham and Stubbs, Joel Davis was responsible for the creating the legal underpinnings of the Snowmass ski resort as a condominium project, calling for the creation of multiple condominium maps, condominium declarations and covenants. In 1972, Joel returned to Boulder and joined Peter Dietze, his classmate in law school; they founded the law firm of Dietze and Davis.
Trained as an engineer, Joel had precise work habits. During law school, Joel worked on a wall size map, to scale, of the city of Boulder as of 1961. Every street and alleyway and every parcel of land located with the city limits is shown on this map. He had hoped to turn the map into commercial success, but alas it did not turn out to be a profitable venture. A copy of the original Davis Map of Boulder is on display at the office of Dietze and Davis.
Joel’s deep understanding of real estate law and his knowledge of land surveying enabled him to deal with most legal problems that came across his desk. His calm demeanor and articulate manner of speaking made it easy for his clients to rely on his advice, as well as other lawyers who consulted with him. For decades, Joel was acknowledged by other lawyers in Boulder and Denver as one of the most authoritative lawyers in Colorado in the field of real estate law and practice.
Joel Davis was a quiet, self-effacing man. He enjoyed the respect and admiration of many in the community and by his peers in the legal profession. He stayed away from courtroom fights. When he spoke, others listened. Joel Davis passed away on February 5, 2013.
Dan Bernardis another one of the greatest lawyers in Boulder County history. Dan and his wife, Dale, moved to Longmontin the early 1970’s after meeting at Duke University. Dick Lyons, of the law firm Lyons Gaddis remembers when he first met Dan Bernard over 35 years ago when Lyons worked at Bernard's law firm. Over the decades the two became good friends as well as professional colleagues. Lyons said, “He was truly a gentleman's gentleman, and a great attorney. He really was a student of the law. I think his integrity was beyond reproach, and he was a real mentor for me. ... He was really a great man.”
Dan was one of the leading management rights negotiators in the state. He travelled all over the state, negotiating collective bargaining agreements for school districts. His demeanor was professional, respectful, courteous, and always trying to find a solution, a middle ground of compromise and most importantly never robbing the other side of their dignity.
Dan's two grown children remember their father as a role model, both personally and professionally. “We learned most everything by just watching,” Ryan Bernard said. “He would model for us what it means to be a good family person, what it means to be strong in your faith, to be an active member of your community, to value education, etc.
Dan’s daughter, Kate Buchanan, said her father's passion for the community “really helped cultivate that strong sense of camaraderie and common values.”
“Dan probably was one of the most dependable, ethical, loyal friends you could possibly have,” said fellow Rotarian Tom Redmond. Redmond also reflected on his friend's impeccable organizational skills and his unwavering support of causes he cared about, such as education. “If he saw something that was going to make a difference, he was available to help out,” Redmond said.
Dan died in 2011 at the age of 68 after battling multiple myeloma for several years.
Raphael J. (“Ray”) Moses III was a nationally known water lawyer in Boulder. Ray was born in 1913 in Girard, Alabama, and following the death of his parents when he was still an infant, he was raised in Alamosa, Colorado, by his paternal uncle Albert Moses and his wife Rosa Moses. He graduated from Alamosa High School in 1929, and the University of Colorado with is bachelor’s degree followed by his law degree in 1937.
He married his college sweetheart Marian Beck (Becky) in 1938. Ray opened his law practice in Alamosa, Colorado after law school. But his practice was interrupted by World War II, where he served as a Lt. jg aboard the USS Bush, a destroyer. Ray was rescued from the East China Sea, after the Bush was struck by a Japanese suicide bomber on April 6, 1945. He served the rest of the war in Washington, D.C.
After returning to Alamosa after the war, he resumed his law practice that evolved primarily, as he has said “almost accidentally,” into of water law. He represented drainage districts and irrigation districts, became active in the Colorado Bar Association, and joined the initial water law section representing the Rio Grande drainage system. This led to him serving as attorney for the Colorado Water Conservation Board and representing Colorado in many of its interstate matters, such as resolving litigation brought by New Mexico, Texas, and the Republic of Mexico over water delivery from the Rio Grande River.
Ray moved his practice to Boulder in 1962 where he co-founded the law firm of Moses, Wittemyer, Harrison and Woodruff, P.C. He enjoyed a long and distinguished career. Ray argued before the United States Supreme Court, and wrote many articles on water law, some published internationally. A chair at the University of Colorado Law School has been endowed in his name, and a classroom has been named in his honor as well.
Ray was president of the San Luis Valley Bar Association and the Colorado Bar Association, and a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Bar Foundation. He also served as Regent of the University of Colorado. He received many honors, including the Colorado Bar Association Award of Merit, the Honorary Order of the Coif from the CU Law School, the William E. Knous Award, the Norlin Award from the Associated Alumni of CU, and the University of Colorado Medal.
Ray was a talented litigator and a shrewd negotiator. One of the stories that has often been repeated involves a trial that Ray had in one of the district courts in southern Colorado. The judge in that case had a habit of falling asleep during trial and missing key points in the testimony. Ray’s solution was to alert his young associate to drop a stack of books on the floor just before Ray was planning to present important evidence. On cue, the associate dropped the books creating a loud crash, and the judge woke up just in time for Ray to put on the evidence. Ray won the case.
One of Ray’s notable accomplishments involved his interest in Mesoamerican archaeology. As he did in all of his endeavors, he devoted passion and energy to supporting an important collection of materials collected by an interdisciplinary working group of scholars. The collection is now housed at the Peabody Museum at Harvard and is called the “Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project.”
Ray Moses died on June 8, 2011, at the age of 97.