Community leader passes away

Published 10:20 pm Wednesday, September 16, 2009

There was no doubt James McLemore was a beloved member of the Suffolk community.

A former Clerk of the Circuit Court of the City of Suffolk, Rotary Club president and Eagle Scout, McLemore passed away Tuesday. He was 64.

“I’m very sorry for this, very sorry and I offer condolences to his family and to all of his many, many friends and acquaintances here within Suffolk,” Commissioner Thomas Savage said at the Planning Commission meeting Tuesday afternoon. “Going back over 100 years, starting with his grandfather who was a longtime active circuit court judge here, founder of the National Bank of Suffolk, his father was a lawyer, longtime member of the Suffolk City Council many years back, Jim has carried on all of these wonderful traditions, it saddens me to recognize his loss to us.”

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McLemore spent his life in Suffolk.

He graduated from Suffolk High School and earned his undergraduate degree from Randolph Macon College. He returned to Suffolk to begin his career after he earned his law degree from the College of William and Mary.

“He was one of the most detail-oriented attorneys in Suffolk,” said Billy Chorey, local real estate agent and one of McLemore’s neighbors. “He was very sharp and a very good real estate attorney. He was just a great guy.”

McLemore was elected as Clerk of the Circuit Court for the city after serving as the Deputy Clerk of the Nansemond County Circuit Court. Following his clerk term, McLemore opened his own law office that he continued working in until December of last year.

While McLemore’s resume may be impressive, friends say it was his community involvement that made him stand out.

“Jim and I go back a long, long way,” said Bob House, current president of the Suffolk Rotary Cub. The two men both grew up in Suffolk and were fraternity brothers at Randolph-Macon. “He was a good man and a devoted Rotarian.”

House said McLemore served as the club’s Parliamentarian for many years, and club members were careful not to ask McLemore too many questions.

“Everyone kind of avoided asking him too many legal questions because he was somewhat longwinded when he got started on a subject,” House joked.

Other friends noted McLemore as a great model train enthusiast who helped craft the model that is in the Seaboard Train Station in downtown.

“He loved trains and upstairs in his house he had trains that went all around,” Chorey said. “He was so proud of it and loved showing to it people.”

McLemore was also a member of the Main Street United Methodist Church and supported the scouting troops in the city.

“(This is) such a great loss that we have experienced,” Savage said. “And let’s hope it doesn’t end the participation of the McLemore family in the city of Suffolk.”