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By Charlotte Smith

Monday, September 19, 2022, was Bladen County Attorney Cliff Hester’s 66th birthday. However, the venerable counselor-at-law unexpectedly passed away on Saturday, September 17, 2022. Bladen County District Court Judges William F. Fairley and Carolyn A. Gore paid tribute to the well-respected lawyer by halting the scheduled courts mid-morning on Monday. 


In a solemn procession, Attorneys Gary Grady, Kyle Melvin, and the staff members from Hester, Grady & Hester entered the courtroom. 

Numerous attorneys, Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker, and representatives from the Clerk of Courts’ office were seated in the audience to honor the memory of the late “Cliff” Hester. 

Remembering the beloved Bladen County native attorney, Judge Gore stated, “Cliff dedicated his life to the practice of law. He loved the practice of law, and he loved Bladen County.”

Cliff’s business partner and life-long friend, Attorney Gary Grady, took the floor to speak and expressed gratitude for all the prayers and support. “He was my friend for 59 years; he was my law partner for 35,” Gary stated. He recalled their childhood dream of practicing law together. 

“We wanted to be like our fathers, who also practiced law,” Grady continued, “Thank God, it happened.”

“Judges, Cliff had such a big heart,” Grady explained, “He often told me, sometimes to my frustration, that his mission in life was practicing law.”

Judge Fairley expressed his feelings towards “small town lawyers” like Cliff and Cliff’s father, Mr. Hester. “Mr. Hester was a remarkably courteous and a fine human being…” the judge expounded, “and Cliff was just like his dad… and that’s kind of the way I’d like to remember Cliff Hester.”

Ending with those words, the judge asked everyone to rise for a moment of silence in remembrance of Cliff Hester. 

According to the obituary on Legacy.com, Cliff is survived by his wife, Erin, three children, and four grandsons. He is also survived by his mother, Anna Ruth, and seven siblings.

Cliff graduated from East Bladen High School in 1974. Then he graduated from Davidson College and served as the captain of their football team. In 1981, he graduated with a law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law. After his travels, he returned to work in Bladen County at his father’s law firm, Hester, Grady & Hester, which continues to serve the community today.

A memorial service is scheduled at St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, NC at 2:00 pm on Friday, September 23, 2022. A reception in Brown Fellowship Hall will follow the service. According to Legacy.com, the family will also receive visitors at the Elizabethtown Baptist Church, 1800 West Broad Street, Elizabethtown, NC, between 4:00 and 6:00 pm on Thursday, September 22, 2022.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church or the Davidson College Athletic Fund (Football Gridiron Club).

View Hester’s obituary at the link below:


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