Clark & Bradshaw, P.C. has provided legal services to the people and businesses of the Shenandoah Valley for 70 years. The firm consists of eight attorneys, two certified public accountants, and eighteen support staff, including paralegals, legal assistants and secretaries. Individual attention to each client, participation in community affairs and the local economy, and a versatile, knowledgeable staff enable us to maintain our dedication to this principle.
The members of our firm are highly qualified in numerous areas of the law. Therefore, while one attorney may be a client’s primary counsel, expert help in other areas of the law is always available. We encourage clients to call on any member of the firm when in need of legal services.
We look forward to meeting new challenges and continuing to provide superlative legal services to our diverse and growing community. We invite you to allow us to assist you with your legal concerns.
Henry C. Clark founded the firm in 1948. What follows is a resolution presented by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Bar Association and recorded in the records of the Circuit Court of Rockingham County, Virginia, in honor of Mr. Clark after his departing this life in 2013.
One evening in May, 1979, on the east lawn of this courthouse only a few yards from where we today assemble in special session, a public spectacle occurred in the greatest land use battle ever fought among citizens in our community. The rezoning application of the Adolph Coors Company for a 1,900-acre brewery site along Route 340 brought forth very strong feelings in the City and County. From our vantage point in the present, we see that the outcome of this battle symbolized and reflected a change in our community, from a largely homogenous, arguably provincial locale, to something quite different today.
Over 1,500 people were present at the public hearing that evening – that was nearly two percent of the number of men, women and children in the City and County – and for almost five hours they talked. At the center of the rezoning case was Henry C. Clark, the lawyer for Coors. His name appears multiple times in each of the local newspaper stories that tracked the progress of the project blow by blow. Attorney Clark was reported meeting with the governor, with land owners as he obtained options for the many contiguous tracts of land, with environmental regulators and local land use personnel, and with members of the board of supervisors.
The letters to the editor opposing the brewery exceeded by a nine-to-one ratio the letters in support. An organized opposition group threw out a myriad of reasons why the rezoning should be denied: the local unemployment rate was under four percent – what kind of people would come into the area to work there; what would the Coors pay scale do to the local labor pool for good local employers; the best Valley farmland would be sacrificed to industrial development; roads, water and sewer were inadequate. Economic projections of the day foresaw 6,000 jobs when Coors was fully operational. Uncontrollable growth was predicted.
But the main reason for the opposition was a four-letter word: beer. That’s how Henry Clark saw it. Liquor by the drink had only been allowed in the County by referendum the previous fall. The area was changing – in fact, it had changed.
On the lawn that evening, Henry described the project and contested the claims of the opponents point by point, with clarity backed by facts. Eventually, the Planning Commission recommended denial, but the Board of Supervisors disagreed, the site was rezoned and as we all know the facility was built.
It is fair to say that neither the hopes of the proponents nor the fears of the opponents materialized fully over time. Technology cut the number of jobs to less than ten percent of what was projected. County fathers were frustrated for a few years after the rezoning, waiting around for Coors to show up and be part of the community, while other potential industries stayed away due to perceptions of inadequate labor supply. But, last year, as in prior years, Coors paid a huge amount – about $4.5 million last year – in taxes to Rockingham County, as foreseen by Henry Clark from the outset.
The Coors rezoning controversy occurred midway during the career of Henry C. Clark, 31 years after he began his law practice in 1948 and 33 years before death stopped him in December of 2012. That memorable battle over Coors was the most public display of Henry Clark’s talents and efforts in bringing economic development to our area. But, it was only one of many such endeavors, spanning his entire 64-year legal career.
If there is a single theme to Henry Clark’s legal career, it must be economic progress. He demonstrated a steadfast commitment to bringing, creating, nurturing, developing and caring for business enterprises in our community. Henry’s focus on economic vibrancy may have had its roots in his childhood, a period in his life when his personal situation was at the opposite end of the spectrum. He was born into an accomplished family in 1924 in Stuart, Virginia, but during his grade school years the Great Depression devastated the family’s resources. He was able to attend tiny, brand new Bluefield College when he was 16 years old with tuition paid from money his mother made selling garden vegetables. Before his 18th birthday, however, with the coming of World War II he became a Navy aviator, spotting submarines in the Caribbean among other duties.
As for so many of his generation, the GI Bill made possible a full education, and by 1948 he had completed both his undergraduate and law work at Washington & Lee University. Henry met Mary Ann Bradshaw, a Harrisonburg resident and sister of Steve Bradshaw, while he was at W&L. They married and when he graduated they moved to Harrisonburg. Henry joined the established practice of Herbert W. Wyant, who died soon thereafter. Thomas J. Wilson, Jr., father of our Circuit judge here today, then practicing in Woodstock, joined Henry, forming the firm of Clark & Wilson. Tom Wilson left some years later, and became a bankruptcy referee and a sole practitioner. In 1959 Steve Bradshaw joined the firm, and he and Henry practiced together until Steve retired in 1987.
Henry served as a City Court judge until the general district court system was established in 1973. He was a commissioner in chancery for decades. He was a local and national leader in the Presbyterian Church and Sunnyside Presbyterian Home. He participated in many local charitable and civic organizations. He was devoted to his wife, and to his sons Jeff and Clay, and he adored his grandchildren.
Henry’s legal accomplishments were recognized by the Virginia State Bar in 1989 with its prestigious Certificate of Excellence Award. He had served as local bar president and, we note with pride, was a long-time member of its Resolutions Committee. Sometime in the 1950’s Henry joined D’earcy “Red” Davis, a local architect, Winston Weaver, Sr., Warren Denton and others, to start the Rockingham Development Corporation. RDC’s goal was to attract industry that would fit well into the local economy and community. For about 40 years under the leadership of Red Davis and Henry Clark, RDC recruited a number of significant businesses to this area.
The concept of finding appropriate industry for your community was uncommon when RDC began. It was even more unusual to skillfully block undesirable companies seeking entrance, as RDC did on more than one occasion. Henry’s leadership role in the work of RDC is illustrative of his visionary and creative approach to work and life. He was never daunted by the fact that he had to create something that did not already exist. Not only did RDC attract new business and thereby help to create hundreds of new jobs in this community, but the new businesses helped the area transition from an economy that was almost entirely agricultural to one that was more balanced and provided better paying jobs.
Many would point to the poultry industry and James Madison University as the two chief drivers of change in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County during the past 64 years. But RDC, while less visible, arguably had greater overall impact because it brought economic diversity and diffusion of economic risk to the community. And Henry Clark was absolutely key to RDC. Henry helped convince local officials that not all growth is good growth. Moreover, when he saw a lack of solid local government leadership, he quietly encouraged good people to become involved and he worked hard for the election of those he encouraged to run for public office. He worked behind the scenes to bring JMU activities closer to downtown.
Despite the stellar business client list he later developed, Henry’s legal practice in the early years left time for other activities. Henry was active in local Democratic politics, and was a national delegate at the 1960 convention. Around 1963 he ran unsuccessfully for commonwealth’s attorney. Although it was a hard personal disappointment to Henry, the race markedly increased his trajectory within the bar. Henry himself acknowledged the fact; he said that he met many people during the campaign who became clients for the rest of his career. A senior lawyer and political leader of the day, commenting many years later, observed that he had never seen or heard of a lawyer benefiting so much from losing an election.
Henry Clark’s legal ability was obvious and was recognized as superlative by all. But his assistance to his clients, and to business interests in which he was involved, greatly exceeded mere legal expertise.
Henry was the consummate problem solver. He had a genius for quickly analyzing a situation and immediately seeing a possible solution, often one that benefited both sides. He did not waste time chasing unreasonable objectives. He did not spend his time writing memos and letters and filling his file with notes about telephone calls; he had no patience for it. He wanted a solution. He knew how to make things happen and he hated to waste time. His certainty convinced his clients, inspiring tremendous confidence in him and a readiness to take his advice.
Henry was always prepared. With a work ethic perhaps inherited from his mountain roots impelling him to get to his office earlier than most other lawyers even when he was well past traditional retirement age, he loved to work; he worked very hard. The combination of keen intellect, problem-solving skill and a strong work ethic resulted in his usually being better prepared than other lawyers.
Henry knew how to talk to people, in a manner that few of us could emulate successfully, but which worked extremely well for Henry. He was blunt. He told you what he thought whether you liked it or not. The stronger the ego of the recipient the better he was received. People with less self-confidence may have felt threatened but strong people were reassured – or occasionally worried, if they were lawyers on the other side. His almost fanatical efficiency in the use of time carried over to his conversations: he did not waste words.
Henry told the truth, so decision makers in business and government, who also were usually smart, strong and prepared, learned that they could rely upon him. He understood what they could live with, even if he had to stretch their views a bit. A lot of actions were taken by those public officials and business people in reliance on his word alone, with documentation to follow. People knew he would never take advantage of them. He could overwhelm you, but he would not deceive you.
Good lawyers can take on a project and master the law and facts needed to analyze all material aspects. Henry excelled in this and reveled in mastering new areas of the law and also things related to law practice. As early as anyone at our bar, he saw the possibilities that computers offered lawyers in helping clients. When inexpensive personal computers became available, Henry, by then in his mid-60’s, soon became the most knowledgeable and proficient of any of us. He had foresight and he had the ability, courage and drive to be an innovator.
Henry was one of the last of the great Harrisonburg lawyers who was outstanding both in business matters and in the courtroom. His prowess as a business lawyer is so well known that many forget that he was an excellent trial lawyer. Surprising to many of his peers, and as another testament to his ability, was his co-representation along with his partner Steve Weaver of a defendant in a murder case in 1987 when Henry was 63 years old. Although Henry had tried many cases in the 40’s and 50’s, both civil and criminal, he had been a civil business lawyer for a long time by 1987. But a son was accused of murdering his father and Henry was acquainted with the family. When the son asked him for representation, Henry said yes, telling Steve Weaver, “We’re going to do it, and we’re going to win it, too.” And they did; the jury acquitted the defendant based on self-defense.
We would ignore a huge part of Henry’s career if we didn’t mention the Massanutten Resort. After other local investors developed the idea for the Massanutten ski area and second home community, and a national developer created the resort, it was sold in 1977 to Henry, Steve Bradshaw, and two others. Henry was himself an avid skier so he appreciated the sport’s appeal. During three years of ownership, the group began timeshare development on a small scale, 46 units or around 2,400 weeks (remember the 2,400 weeks for later comparison purposes). They sold it to a person who eventually went into bankruptcy. New owners bought the resort out of bankruptcy in 1984 and Henry began to represent the resort and continued to do so for 28 years until his death. “Represent” actually is not a big
enough word for his involvement. He spoke every working day to senior resort managers, usually more than once. His multitude of talents seemed to suit him perfectly for what was needed; taking a concept and figuring out how to implement it, letting the resort owners understand what would be involved, and then, when needed, convincing County government that it was feasible and reasonable.
This pattern of involvement – how Henry made things happen – played out time and time again as the resort grew, and grew some more. Henry’s last conversation with Massanutten management was the day before he died. Henry loved Massanutten. His personal involvement and the credit due to him for the success of the resort would be hard to overstate. Today, there are 2,000 timeshare units, representing over 104,000 weeks of residency. The tax base is enormous, the tax revenues are huge, and each year they effectively subsidize County citizens who otherwise would pay more for local government. Thousands of visitors each week arrive at their timeshare units, relax and have fun, spend money, and then they leave, taking their problems and their school children with them. Massanutten is the apogee of Henry Clark’s quest to bring economic benefit to our community.
Henry Clark was an outstanding lawyer and wise counselor; he was a shrewd businessman and a visionary civic leader whose efforts left a lasting legacy in the life of this community. His record as a lawyer surely was among the most remarkable of the past and present members of our bar. He was a great role model for other lawyers. His positive impact on the lives of others will indeed continue for a long, long time. It is a special honor for our bar to recognize his achievements and contributions here today.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Bar Association, this 10th day of May, 2013, by this resolution and our assembly in this special session of court, hereby acknowledges the esteem, affection and regard for our colleague and
friend, Henry C. Clark; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that these remarks and resolutions be spread upon the permanent records of this Association; that they be formally presented to the Circuit Court of Rockingham County by motion to enter an order directing them to be spread upon its permanent records; and that a copy be transmitted to the family of Henry C. Clark and to his law firm, Clark & Bradshaw.
Respectfully submitted by the Resolutions Committee of the Bar. And we move the adoption of these resolutions.