A Leading Light In Our Community
James W. Clark was the founding partner of Clark & Martino, P.A. When Jim passed away in July 2022, after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer, he had led his law firm in the courtroom for over 50 years. Jim was loved and respected by all who knew him. He was a tireless working “trial lawyer,” advocating with the utmost professionalism, while remaining kind, generous, considerate, fair, humble, and devoted.
Early Life And Military Service
After graduating from Ocala High School in 1962, Jim first attended the Gordon Military Academy before enrolling at the University of Florida on a ROTC scholarship in 1964, where he met his wife, Velva Wells, at the age of 19. After marrying Velva in 1965, and graduating from UF in 1966, Jim began his service in the U.S. Army 5th Special Forces Group (Green Beret), 101st Airborne, serving multiple combat operations during the Vietnam War, with the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG). Jim was awarded numerous combat medals and ribbons for his service in Vietnam, where he led a Special Forces A-Team.
After returning from Vietnam, Jim and Velva, along with their daughter, Kimberly, born June 1968, remained at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. They then moved to Tampa and in 1970, Jim enrolled at Stetson College of Law with the assistance of the GI Bill while remaining with the Army Reserves at MacDill Air Force Base. His son, Dan, was born in December 1970, during Jim’s first semester of law school.
Recognized Civil Trial Leadership
After graduating with honors from Stetson College of Law in 1972, Jim began his law career with the law firm of Peavyhouse, Giglio, Grant, Opp, Clark & Charlton, which evolved into “Clark & Martino.” Dan joined his dad at the firm in 1999. Jim led the firm as a preeminent trial lawyer, obtaining Board Certification in Civil Trial from The Florida Bar early in his career, with memberships in The National Board of Trial Advocates and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). Other more notable recognitions: Martindale-Hubbell™ AV Preeminent Rate AV Preeminent Rated Lawyer, the highest rating given; Best Lawyers In America, including Best Lawyer in Medical Malpractice; Florida Trend Legal Elite, only 2% of the lawyers in the state are selected; and Eagle Benefactor of The Florida Justice Association.
Jim also received numerous awards, including the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s “Michael A. Fogarty Memorial ‘In the Trenches’ Award,” and the bar association’s highest award given to a trial attorney, the “Herbert G. Goldburg Award,” in 2016.
A Tremendous Personality And Legacy That Will Be Cherished And Remembered
Jim’s favorite sayings as he walked through the office at Clark & Martino, or was heading to the courthouse, included gems such as: “Always stand five feet away from a qualified Army Ranger,” “Nobody ever got fired for being early,” and “Get the work done before you sit on your butt.” Always a sportsman, Jim enjoyed the “Annual Jim Strahan Pheasant Hunt” in Dallas, South Dakota, his hunting camp at the old Barthle’s Ranch, and his Saturday golf foursomes at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club.
A devoted husband and father, with endless love and loyalty to his family, Jim is survived by his beloved wife of 57 years, Velva; their daughter, Kimberly, and son, Dan; and their six grandchildren.