Shelby Cullom Davis

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For the scholarship named for Davis's son, see Shelby Davis Scholarship.
Shelby Cullom Davis
United States Ambassador to Switzerland
In office
Jul 17, 1969 – Apr 10, 1975
President Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford
Preceded by John S. Hayes
Succeeded by Peter H. Dominick
Personal details
Born (1909-04-01)April 1, 1909
Died May 26, 1994(1994-05-26) (aged 85)
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Kathryn Wasserman Davis (1932-1994, his death, 3 children)
Children Shelby Davis, Diana Cullom Davis Spencer, Priscilla Alden Davis
Alma mater The Lawrenceville School
Princeton University
Columbia University
Graduate Institute of International Studies
Occupation Banker

Shelby Cullom Davis (April 1, 1909 – May 26, 1994) was an American investment banker, philanthropist, and former United States Ambassador to Switzerland hailing from the state of New York. He served as the American envoy in Bern under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford from 1969 to 1975.


After graduating from The Lawrenceville School in 1926, he matriculated to Princeton University, graduating in 1930 and earned a master's degree at Columbia University in 1931. He earned a doctorate in political science at the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, in 1934. His dissertation was about military personnel in Africa (Reservoirs of men, a history of the black troops of French West Africa).

Thomas E. Dewey[edit]

He worked as a European correspondent for CBS in Geneva and as an economist before joining the staff of Thomas E. Dewey, whom he advised during Dewey's presidential runs in 1940 and 1944. Under Mr. Dewey as Governor of New York, Davis served as First Deputy Superintendent of Insurance from 1944 to 1947.

Business career[edit]

He headed Shelby Cullom Davis & Company, a firm specializing in insurance securities that he founded in 1947. He became a member of the New York Stock Exchange in 1941 and for many years was the managing partner of the firm bearing his name. He was its chairman at the time of his death. His son, Shelby Davis, formed Davis Selected Advisers in 1969. In the 1980s he made it to the Forbe's richest 400 Americans list.


Davis died at his house in Hobe Sound, Florida, aged 85, following a brief illness. He also lived in Tarrytown, New York. He was survived by his wife of 62 years, Kathryn Wasserman Davis; two children Shelby M. C., of Manhattan; a daughter, Diana D. Spencer and eight grandchildren.


He provided significant financial support to Princeton University (his alma mater) and also funded chairs at Wellesley College, and professorships of free enterprise at Wellesley and at the Cullom - Davis Library at Bradley University. A Professorship of International Security Studies at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy was also instituted in his name.[1] He also provided support to the Library and Museum of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center in NYC. His generous support of the Society of Colonial Wars is recognized in part through the Shelby Cullom Davis Lecture. In December 2013 it was announced that through his charitable fund a $10 million donation was made to Colby College, Waterville, Maine.[2]


Davis was chairman and treasurer of an eponymous, conservative think tank, the Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation, at the time of his death. He was also affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, The Mayflower Society, Sons of the Revolution, The Society of the Cincinnati and was an officer of the The Huguenot Society of America.


  1. ^ Pfaltzgraff, Robert L.; Shultz, Richard H. (2013). "International Security Studies: Looking Back and Moving Ahead" (PDF). The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs (The Fletcher School of Law and Dioplomacy) 37 (3): 95–109. Retrieved Jan 20, 2014. 
  2. ^ "$10 Million donation". Morning Sentinel. Retrieved 12/6/2013.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

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