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Judge Charles Clark

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Judge Charles Clark Obituary
Judge Charles Clark

Madison

Charles Clark, former Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, died March 6, 2011. His funeral service will be at St. James Episcopal Church on March 10, 2011, at 11 a.m. Visitation will follow the service in the parish hall until 1:00. Arrangements are being made by Sebrell Funeral Home.

He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 12, 1925, and raised in Cleveland, Mississippi. Charles' cousin, Walter Sillers, became his guardian after his parents' deaths; Catherine Ward became his surrogate mother. Judge Clark was a fourth generation Mississippi lawyer. His great-grandfather, Charles, served as Mississippi's governor during the Civil War.

He graduated from Cleveland High School in 1943 and was an Eagle Scout and later a dedicated Boy Scout Leader with Troop 15 in Jackson. He married his high school sweetheart, the former Emily Russell, in 1947.

He was commissioned in the United States Navy through the V-12 program, and was on a destroyer at the end of WWII. After the war, he returned to law school, graduating in 1948, and joined the Wells, Wells, Newman, and Thomas firm in Jackson. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean War and returned to the Wells firm in 1952. In 1961, he became a founding partner in the firm of Cox, Dunn, and Clark with William H. Cox, Jr., and Vardaman Dunn.

His success as a civil trial lawyer led to his selection for the U.S. Fifth Circuit. He was nominated by President Richard Nixon at the urging of Senator James Eastland on October 7, 1969, and was confirmed on October 15, 1969. He retired from the court in 1992. He served as Chief Judge from 1981 until 1992. He wrote over 2,000 opinions. He was very active in the operation of the federal court system, serving as chairman of the finance and executive committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States. He was the highest ranking judicial official from Mississippi since the service of L.Q.C. Lamar on the Supreme Court in 1893.

Following his retirement from the court in 1992, Judge Clark returned to law practice with his partners, Vardaman Dunn and William H. Cox, Jr., at the Watkins and Eager firm in Jackson. He specialized in arbitration until his complete retirement in 2009.

Judge Clark received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Mississippi College in 2009. He is a charter member of University of Mississippi Law School Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the University of Mississippi Hall of Fame. The Charles Clark Inns of Court was named in his honor.

Judge Clark will be remembered as a man of wisdom and compassion, of warmth and wit, of humility and grace, of deference and service, and of faith and family.

Charles Clark is survived by his wife of 63 years, Emily of Madison. He was predeceased by his parents, Charles Clark and Anita Masssengill Tigrett Clark; his brother, John Burton Tigrett; his sister, Kate Foote Clark Jordan; and his grandson, Harrison Hull Clark. He is also survived by six children ? Charles (Mimi) of Cleveland; Emily Smith (Tim) of Jackson; John (Geraldine) of Penland, North Carolina; Jim (Meg) of Jackson; Catherine of Hendersonville, North Carolina; and Peter (Anne) of Ridgeland; 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; and an extended family of law clerks and colleagues.

Memorials may be made to the Harrison Clark Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, 525 East Capitol Street, Suite 5B, Jackson, MS 39201, or St. James Episcopal Church, 3921 Oakridge Drive, Jackson, MS 39216.

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Published in Clarion Ledger on Mar. 9, 2011
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