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State Bar Leaders Recall Cliff Brashier's Wisdom, Humor

Memorial speakers said bar director was an invaluable guide to 21 presidents

, Daily Report

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Cliff Brashier had his portrait removed from the State Bar office, but he was overruled.
Cliff Brashier had his portrait removed from the State Bar office, but he was overruled.

A crowd of lawyers and judges paid tribute to the State Bar of Georgia's longtime executive director, Cliff Brashier, at a memorial service on Jan. 8 at the bar's Marietta Street headquarters.

Brashier died unexpectedly on Dec. 20 of complications from esophageal cancer. His death at age 69 was a shock to his many friends at the bar and in the Georgia legal community who, like Brashier, believed he would overcome the disease.

Sorrow alternated with humor in the speakers' reminiscences of Brashier, who had worked for the state bar since 1980 and was its executive director for 21 years.

"Encapsulating a life as big as Cliff's in a few moments is like stuffing the Lone Star state into Rhode Island," said Jeff Davis, the director of Georgia's Judicial Qualifications Commission, in opening remarks about the Texas native. "Grief and memories live side by side in our heart."

The bar's current president, Charles Ruffin, spoke at the service, along with former bar presidents Bill Barwick, Robin Clark and John Sammon. They were joined by Brashier's daughter, Loren Brashier Gleason, Supreme Court of Georgia Chief Justice Hugh Thompson and the bar's retired general counsel, Bill Smith.

Brashier's wisdom, humor, modesty, upbeat outlook and unfailing care for others were the qualities that made him uniquely suited for his position, the speakers said, and making him a friend to those who worked with him professionally.

"We come here not to bury Cliff but to praise him," Ruffin said, expressing shock at the suddenness of Brashier's death. "It's been only three weeks since those of us who worked with Cliff got the news. It's a tremendous loss. I feel like he was my best friend."

Brashier was diagnosed with cancer last summer and underwent chemotherapy, then was hospitalized in November for a month because of complications. He reentered the hospital with pneumonia on Dec. 19 and died the next day.

During his long tenure as executive director, Brashier was the bar's true leader and guiding spirit, the speakers said, but he preferred to stay behind the scenes and serve as a wise counsel to the 21 bar presidents he guided.

Ruffin called Brashier the "constant presence" at the State Bar as different presidents came and went each year. "Leading from behind the scenes is what Cliff Brashier did with such aplomb. … He has the unique ability to impart wise counsel without you knowing until later."

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