On February 1, the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) lost its oldest past President when Hal C. B. Clagett passed away at the age of 93. In 1958, Clagett was elected Treasurer of MSBA and served in that role for 16 years before assuming the MSBA presidency in 1974-75. When the Maryland Bar Foundation was formed in 1965, Clagett served as one of the first members of its board of directors. He is remembered throughout Maryland's legal community as an outstanding lawyer, bar leader and mentor and was honored with the Distinguished Service Award of the Prince George's County Bar Association.
HAL C. B. CLAGETT
MSBA PAST PRESIDENT (1974-75)
Hailing from Prince George's County, Clagett was the tenth generation of his family to live in his ancestral home, Weston, built in 1670. "Hal Clagett was a true gentleman," states the Honorable Richard I. Sothoron, a MSBA past President from Prince George's County.
"He was a patrician in all respects, firm in his opinions yet a very warm and cultured individual," remembers MSBA past President Herbert S. Garten.
Clagett began practicing law in the early 1940s and served as a full Colonel fighter pilot in World War II. "He served his country as a decorated pilot during World War II," adds Sothoron, "and distinguished himself as a revered lawyer, bar leader and mentor to many junior lawyers over seven decades."
In addition to his leadership in the legal community, Clagett was also renowned in Maryland horse racing circles. "He was a leader and stalwart supporter of Maryland Thoroughbred Breeding," continues Sothoron. He entered horses in Maryland Million races for several decades, and one of the highlights of his equine career was writing what would become the Maryland-Bred Race Fund in 1962.
As MSBA's Treasurer, Garten remembers Clagett as "a stickler for everything being accounted for and the parliamentary rules being strictly observed." Praising Clagett's dedication to his fiscal role in the Association, Garten asserted, "in my experience, you can tell a great deal about a person by the way they keep their checkbook. Hal was a neat, careful, straightforward and conservative individual, and his checkbook and years of service as Treasurer and President reflected those wonderful virtues."
"Notwithstanding his numerous accomplishments, Hal always displayed the common touch by treating everyone he encountered, particularly within the Upper Marlboro community, with great respect and thoughtfulness," concludes Sothoron.
"WHEN I THINK
of all the benefits I have personally enjoyed as an MSBA member, the one at the top of the list is the honor of having known Hal Clagett."
HERBERT S. GARTEN
MSBA PAST PRESIDENT
MSBA's Executive Director Paul V. Carlin recalls a wonderful memory about MSBA's oldest past President. "When our Board conferred honorary membership on Hal, he reminded us that he was a one-G Clagett and not a two. Apparently, many Clagetts added the second ‘G' to their names," explains Carlin, "to show loyalty to King George during the Revolutionary War. Hal was very proud that his family name demonstrated more independence from the Crown."
Several years ago, Garten contacted Clagett in hopes of encouraging him to attend an MSBA Past Presidents' meeting and "he very respectfully declined," recalls Garten. "His response was something to the effect that "I am too old to get involved, I am here on the farm and my Bar years are behind me. I thank you very much for inviting me to the occasion."
"Bar leaders like Hal Clagett never die, they just stay on the farm," declares Garten. "However, one thing is certain. MSBA will never have leaders the likes of Hal Clagett and his contemporaries again. When I think of all the benefits I have personally enjoyed as an MSBA member, the one at the top of the list is the honor of having known Hal Clagett."