Chester C. Davis became the fourth president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis on April 16, 1941, succeeding William McChesney Martin Sr. He resigned February 1, 1951.
Davis was born in 1887 and received a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College, in Grinnell, Iowa. He began his career in newspapers, where he was especially interested in agricultural issues. He worked for the Bozeman Weekly Courier and then for the Montana Farmer, of which he became editor and manager in 1917. He served as Montana’s commissioner of agriculture and labor from 1921 to 1925. In 1926, he became director of grain marketing for the Illinois Agricultural Association. Davis was a member of the agricultural service for farm organizations, executive vice president of Maizewood Products / Cornstalk Processes Corporation, and director of the production division and also administrator for the U.S. Agricultural Adjustment Administration. The American Farm Bureau Federation awarded him a medal for distinguished service to agriculture in 1939.
Davis began his career with the Federal Reserve as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 1936 to 1941. In April, he was named president of the St. Louis Fed and served in that position for ten years. He focused especially on the effects of World War II on banking, agriculture prices, and other policies.
In 1940, while a member of the Board of Governors, Davis served on the World War Advisory Commission to the Council of National Defense. He was responsible for notifying the defense program of agricultural problems. While president of the St. Louis Fed, he was called to serve as “Food Czar” (War Food Administrator) by President Roosevelt in 1943. He moved to Washington, DC, to work as Administrator of Food Production and Distribution. In his absence, the Second War Loan Drive efforts of the St. Louis Fed were left to the Bank’s general chairman and the campaign chairman of the Metropolitan St. Louis division.
Davis resigned from the St. Louis Fed in February, to take a position as the associate director of the Ford Foundation, where he focused on rural credit programs in India and Pakistan.
Davis died in 1975 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at the age of eighty-seven.
Written by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. See disclaimer.