We began to think of geographic diversity, so we again discussed who we collectively knew in West Florida, the Panhandle. Each reviewed Martindale, and all of us came up with the same target, Clark Partington Hart Larry Bond & Stackhouse. So again we called and after a few minutes with the Managing Partner, set a date in Pensacola for a meeting. Because of the distance, we flew and stayed overnight. Our presentation went well, and the partners were not as circumspect as Henderson, and after a good dinner and drinks that night with several of their partners, felt that we had a fifth member, but again, to be confirmed. Bob Hart, who graduated from Washington & Lee four years later and as I recall, Don Partington who had graduated three years later than I, were the representatives to the Network. Bill Clark and Chris Hart also graduated from W&L in the 60’s. At that time, we were in an incubator stage of formality, which came later, as we busied ourselves in gaining membership in diverse locations.
Our next mission, all agreed, was South Central Florida, and to a person, we all agreed that the Crary Buchanan law firm in Stuart was our target. Interestingly, my dad knew well the elder Mr. Crary as well as Jim Franklin, and took me around the state just before I graduated from law school and I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with both. I also knew Rick Crary who was a year behind me in law school, setting the curve for all. When we went to Stuart and met Larry Buchanan, with his enthusiasm, we knew we had picked a winner and our sixth member. Unfortunately, Larry passed away recently after a short retirement.
Although we did not then have an office in West Palm Beach, the Network representatives honored our request from the outset that we intended to open there. We were going full speed ahead. We hadn’t struck out yet, although as we had approached the larger firms, we had received delayed reaction, but they were affirmative.
So, we headed to North Central Florida, above I-4. First among our sights was a smaller firm, McLin Burnsed in Leesburg. My memory fails me and after inquiry with other members our next step may have been Clayton Johnston in Gainesville. In any event, Buddy McLin was from Tallahassee and in my class in law school. He was a fine practical lawyer as was DeweyBurnsed. We had done some bond infrastructure finance for their client, Gary Morse, who has continued to build out the Villages, a large retirement community north of Leesburg and into Sumter County. They assembled themselves and gave us an ok the same day, as I remember. We rushed them the same way as with the other members, with many of our Network representatives. Unfortunately, Buddy and Dewey both passed away within a year of each other just several years ago. However they had brought up good people behind them and Phil Smith has been a leader.