Obituary: Charles Davis McClure, Sr.

Tallahassee said good-bye to one of its long time residents on Tuesday, June 24.  Charles Davis McClure, Sr., loved Tallahassee and was a devoted public servant.  He possessed the admired qualities of honesty, industriousness and creativity.  He was loved by many.

McClure was born in Birmingham, Ala., on May 22, 1935, to Florina Davis McClure and John Robert McClure.  His family, including his older brother, John Robert McClure, Jr., moved to Madison, in 1937.  His father practiced law in Madison with Florina’s father, Charles E. Davis. They moved to Tallahassee in 1942 when his father accepted a job as Executive Secretary to Governor Spessard Holland.

McClure was a 1953 graduate of Leon High School, where he was Student Body President during his senior year.  Some of his early accomplishments are: the rank of Eagle Scout in The Boy Scouts of America and a delegate of Boys State, where he was elected Attorney General.  Upon graduation, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Journalism in 1957. He made many life-long friends in his fraternity of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

After graduation, he joined the United States Marine Corp, entered Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Va., serving for 39 months and was honorably discharged as a Captain. One of the highlights of his life was a memorable trip to Iwo Jima, traveling with many other fellow Marines.  In his retirement, he enjoyed luncheons each Monday with other fellow Marine Veterans.

After his military experience, he attended law school in St. Petersburg, Fl., graduating from Stetson Law School with his Juris Doctor.

Professionally, McClure began his career as a General Counsel to the State Comptroller.  It was his honor to work in that office during the time the property was being accumulated that would later become Walt Disney World.  McClure had the special privilege of being introduced to Walt Disney and was proud of a signed photograph of himself with Disney.  He proudly displayed this framed photo in his office for many years.  Following that position, McClure practiced law in private practice with McClure, Wigginton and McClure for six years and was then appointed by Governor Reuben Askew to be a Leon County Judge in August 1973. He was in that position for 11 years, having been re-elected three times.  McClure was then elected as Circuit Judge in 1984 for the Second Judicial Circuit and served as Chief Judge from 1989-1991.

In total, Charles McClure was a presiding judge for over 28 years.  During that time, he was an innovative thinker, creating programs to reform wayward, teenage drivers.  For instance, there are more than a few Tallahasseans who, as teenage traffic offenders, have had to give up their Friday or Saturday nights to open the doors of the TMH emergency room for ambulance crews carrying injured car crash victims.  Additionally, Judge McClure was nationally recognized for his enforcement procedures of child support.  He was interviewed on The Today Show with Connie Chung for his efforts against what became known as the “Deadbeat Dads.” During court session, McClure’s “tough justice” efforts collected watches, boats, jewelry and cash as payment from fathers who were delinquent in their child support.  He was also featured in People Magazine showcasing his creative efforts at curbing crime.  After retiring from the bench, he returned to private practice for several years.  All told, Charles McClure, a third generation attorney, was a member of the Florida Bar, retiring from the bar after 48 years of loyal and distinguished service.

In addition to his notable career, McClure was also civically active in the Tallahassee community. He was past president of the Tallahassee Kiwanis Club and the Leon County Tuberculosis Club.  He was a member of the Jaycees, the Colonel’s Club and the Exchange Club.  As a past member of Goodwill Industries, he was the Director of the Big Bend area.  Judge McClure was a long-time member of St. John’s Episcopal Church.  In his later years, as a cancer survivor, he volunteered at Big Bend Hospice, visiting patients and offering free legal help wherever needed.

Judge Charles McClure is survived by his brother, J. Robert McClure, Jr., (Rae).  He was a loving father and will be missed by his three children: Elizabeth McClure Benoist (Blaise) of Orlando; Charles D. McClure, Jr., (Stephanie) of Tallahassee; and Susan F. McClure, of Jacksonville. McClure was very proud of his three grandchildren: Lauren McClure, of Greensboro, N.C.; Luc and Juliette Benoist.

Visitation was held on Saturday, June 28, from 4-6 p.m. at Beggs Funeral Home, located at 3322 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee, Fl.  32311, (850) 942-2929. A memorial service will be held Tuesday, July 1, at 2 p.m., at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, 4784 Thomasville Rd, Tallahassee, Fl. 32309, followed by private interment. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Big Bend Hospice, 1723 Mahan Center Blvd, Tallahassee, Fl. 32308.

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