Justice Cornelia A. (“Connie”) Clark obit

Justice Cornelia A. “Connie” Clark

The city of Franklin is paying tribute to esteemed Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark with an honorary street naming of Fourth Avenue in downtown Franklin Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the intersection of Fourth and Martin Luther King avenues. 

Justice Clark, who died late last year at the age of 71 after a short battle with cancer, is from Franklin and lived on Fourth Avenue for many years of her life. Her public service to the judiciary and her community spanned over four decades. She was first appointed to the Supreme Court in 2005 by Gov. Phil Bredesen and was re-elected in 2006 and 2014. She served as Chief Justice from 2010 to 2012.

“It is with great honor that we give Fourth Avenue the honorary name after Justice Clark,” Franklin Mayor Ken Moore said in a press release. “Justice Clark gave so much to our Franklin community, and she will always be remembered for all she achieved for Franklin and Tennessee.”

When Gov. Ned McWherter appointed Clark to the trial bench covering the 21st Judicial District of Williamson, Hickman, Perry and Lewis counties in 1989, she became the first woman trial judge to serve rural counties in Tennessee. She paved the way for fellow judges to be accepted by clerks, litigants, lawyers and other judges.

Clark’s record of bar and community service is expansive and includes organizations spanning from those focused on her beloved hometown of Franklin, where her family has lived for 10 generations, to many bar associations. She was a board member of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County. 

She was co-chair of the original Steering Committee of Franklin Tomorrow Inc., and served on its board of directors for the first four years of its existence. She served as chair of the city of Franklin Land Use Plan Steering Committee and as citizen chair of the city of Franklin Charter Revision Committee. She was a member of the Williamson County-Franklin Chamber of Commerce board of directors. 

In addition, Clark was a member of the Williamson County Bar Association, Tennessee Bar Association, American Bar Association, Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women (founding member), Lawyers Association for Women, Marion Griffin Chapter, Nashville Bar Association (second vice president), National Association of Women Judges, and the Nashville, Tennessee, and American Bar Foundations. She was the first woman to serve as chair of the Tennessee Bar Foundation.  

In total, Justice Clark served on more than 25 boards and worked with nearly 75 organizations, commissions, advisory groups or task forces since beginning her legal career in 1979.

Tuesday's ceremony can also be viewed through the city of Franklin's Facebook page