Skip Menu

Return to Skip Menu

Main Content

Clifford A. "Cliff" Cutchins

Clifford A. "Cliff" Cutchins III served on the board of visitors from 1965 to 1976 and again from 1987 to 1991 and was rector from 1989 to 1991.

Cutchins grew up in Franklin in Southampton County, Va. He followed his father, Clifford A. Cutchins Jr., Class of 1915, to Virginia Tech. The younger Cutchins started out as a member of the Class of 1944, but those students had their studies interupted when they were called to serve in World War II. Cutchins served in the Pacific Theater as a captain in the U.S. Army, then returned to Virginia Tech to complete his degree in accounting in 1947.

Cutchins' grandfather, C.A. Cutchins, ran a feed store in downtown Franklin, and his uncle, Cecil Vaughan, ran Vaughan & Co. Bank, which the family had established in 1886. After graduation, the younger Cutchins went to work as a teller in that bank, and over the next 13 years he worked his way up the ranks, becoming its president in 1960.

Shortly afterward he negotiated a merger with two local banks to create Tidewater Bank and Trust Co. That bank then merged into Virginia National Bank, and by 1969 he had moved up to president. By 1980 he was elected chairman and chief executive officer of the holding company, Virginia National Bankshares Inc. Over the years, Cutchins engineered a number of acquisitions and mergers, and in 1983 Virginia National merged with First & Merchants Corp. to form Sovran. Cutchins became chairman and CEO of Sovran Financial Corporation in Virginia Beach, Va., a position he held until he retired in 1989 and was made an honorary director.

In addition to banking, Cutchins also was a dairy farmer, operating on more than 600 acres in Franklin. He was one of the frontrunners in area dairy and hog farming, which netted him a posthumous induction into the Virginia Livestock Hall of Fame in 2011.

Cutchins was also involved in other services to the state and community. He was a member of the board of trustees of the Virginia Retirement System, a trustee of the Science Museum of Virginia, a director of the Business Consortium for Arts Support, a director of The Norfolk Forum, a director of the National Maritime Center Foundation, a trustee of the Nature Conservancy, and served on the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. He was also a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (he earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1937), which is granted to those who have a strong record of voluntary service to their community, among other things.

In addition to serving two different terms on the board of visitors (1965 to 1976 and 1987 to 1991), including serving as rector from 1989 to 1991, Cutchins served on the board of the Virginia Tech Foundation and was an honorary member of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association. He established the Clifford A. Cutchins Endowed Scholarship and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Scholarship Endowment. He was a charter member of both the Ut Prosim Society and the President's Circle, which recognizes donors who have given more than $1 million to Virginia Tech.

In recognition of his willingness to lend a hand, the university honored Cutchins a number of times over the years. In 1974, he was presented with the Alumni Distinguished Service Award and in 1984 he received the University Distinguished Achievement Award. In 1995, he received the William H. Ruffner Medal, the university's highest award for service.

Cutchins died Dec. 24, 2002, at age 79 in Virginia Beach. He was survived by his wife of 55 years, Ann Woods Cutchins; and three sons, Clifford Armstrong Cutchins IV and his wife, Jane, William Witherspoon Cutchins and his wife, Caroline, and Cecil Vaughan Cutchins and his wife, Anne. He was also survived by two sisters, Keith Cutchins DeMoss of Nashvile, Tenn. and Katherine Cutchins Billingham of Syracuse, New York; and eight grandchildren, Sarah Cutchins Ewing, Ann Woods Cutchins, William Witherspoon Cutchins, Caroline Davidson Cutchins, Elizabeth Matthews Cutchins, Cecil Vaughan Cutchins Jr., Allison Armstrong Cutchins and Clifford A. Cutchins V.