Obituary - Henry Clay McCormick

Henry Clay McCormickH. Clay McCormick died in Longwood, Fla., on Feb. 10, 2011, just shy of his 99th birthday. Born in Williamsport on April 12, 1912, the son of John H. and Martha Foresman McCormick, Clay graduated from The Hill School, Princeton University, and Yale Law School. He practiced law in what is now The McCormick Firm from 1938 to 1978. From his marriage to Suzanne Paris, which ended in 1960, he had three children, Martha Porter and husband, Stephen, of Searsmont, Maine; Henry C. Jr., who died in Maine in 2006; and Andrew and partner, Carel van Tuyll, who live in Paris. He is also survived by two grandsons, Matthew Porter and William Porter, and his great-granddaughter, Eliza Porter.

In 1961 Clay married Anne Louise Weller of Rochester, the love of his life, who died in Florida in 2007. He was very close to her three children and their families: Emily Weller Jay and her husband, John; Sam Weller and his wife, Kristina; and Chandler Weller and his wife, Liz. When Lou died, Clay's dear friend Isabel Harris became his daily companion and helpmate in Florida.

It's hard to imagine anyone loving Williamsport more than Clay did. His forebears settled in White Deer Valley in the 17th century and through the generations played significant roles in the life of Williamsport, a tradition he followed. Clay was a member of the Ross Club, the Williamsport Country Club (president and secretary), and Dunwoody Hunting and Fishing Club. In 1967 he received the Grit Award in recognition of his many contributions to the life of the town, in particular his "vision to see the potential of urban renewal in the city ... and the problems and need for regional planning." He served on and, in several cases, chaired numerous boards and commissions, including those of the Williamsport Hospital, the Greater Williamsport Chamber of Commerce, the Recreation Commission, and what was called the Central Lycoming Area Regional Planning Commission when it was formed in 1959. "He knew how to organize men and how to keep them organized," the Grit article noted. In 1962 he served as president of the county law association, following in the steps of his grandfather, a former attorney general of Pennsylvania and congressman, for whom he was named. His sense of humor and general ease in public made him a perfect toastmaster for special events, not to mention a legendary and indefatigable host to his many friends.

In 2000, when commuting to Florida became too difficult, Clay and Lou retired permanently to Village on the Green in Longwood, Fla. Leaving his hometown was for Clay one of the hardest moments of his life. He never expected to return, but in June 2008, after Lou's death, he decided to come back once more, this time to show Williamsport off to Isabel Harris, see a few old friends, and visit his law office. His daughter drove down from Maine to act as their chauffeur and, despite temperatures in the mid 90s, they had a grand time. Clay was virtually blind at that point, but he didn't need to see the countless streets, houses, people, and memories that had an indelible place in his heart.

Clay leaves behind legions of good friends, young and old, all of us with wonderful memories of a man who lived life to the fullest.