The City of Franklin blocked off 4th Avenue this morning from North Margin to Martin Luther King Avenue to dedicate 4th Ave. to Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark.
Franklin Mayor Ken Moore welcomed the public, including the elected officials and judges who turned out to honor the late State Supreme Court Justice. The event — beginning at 9 a.m. — convened a crowd in the middle of the now memorial thoroughfare next to Westhaven Cemetery where Justice Clark was interred. The new name for 4th Ave. is Cornelia Clark Way.
Moore and others addressed the public less than 50 yards from Reed’s Produce and Garden Center due to the significance the street carries for Clark and her family. Franklin’s Public Works department contributed labor and effort to build out the event to mark the occasion.
“Clark’s service to the judiciary and our communities spanned more than four decades. She and her family lived on 4th Avenue over the years, and her final resting place is very near to where we’re at right now here in Westhaven Cemetery,” Moore said. “And thus it’s only appropriate that 4th Avenue have the honorary name after her.”
Clark lived all of her adult life on 4th Ave., even up to her passing away. She briefly battled cancer before dying on Sept. 24 last year at age 71.
In attendance were Fifth Circuit Court Judge Joe Binkley Jr., State Supreme Court Justice Jefrey S. Bivens, Criminal Court Appellate Judge Timothy Easter, State Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee, Circuit Court Judge James G. Martin and Circuit Court Judge Joseph A. Woodruff.
“For all that know her, she would never have allowed this to happen in her life,” said Matt Perry, Clark’s nephew and a Tennessee Highway Patrol colonel who also made remarks. “I’ve got to honor the one person who can’t honor themselves — not Connie — and that’s Julian Bibb. I saved you for last but certainly not least. You’ve put this together; you’ve driven this. You and Connie were great friends to the very end. Thank you for all you’ve done for our family and to honor Connie."
The family of Justice Clark requested that Julian Bibb — an intellectual property attorney at local firm Waller Lansden Dortch and Davis, LLP. — be permitted the chance to also say a few words of appreciation for Justice Clark as well as for the city. Mayor Moore introduced him for brief remarks, which included special thanks to each individual alderman on Franklin’s board as well as City Manager Eric Stuckey and Mark Hilty, Assistant City Administrator at Public Works.
“All of you have heard that 4th Avenue is the street where Connie Clark was born, lived, worked, died and is buried, and all of that is true,” Bibb said. “She was born at the Dan German Hospital on 4th Avenue. She lived much of her life and all of her adult life at the southern end of 4th Avenue, surrounded by other members of the Clark family. Maybe it was ‘Clark Hollow’ down there.”
It was Bibb who first recommended to the city that Justice Clark be honored with a memorial street naming. Vice Mayor Brandy Blanton sponsored the resolution that called for the honorary street signage and turned Bibb’s recommendation into municipal law. The resolution passed unanimously in late April.