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Peyton F. St. Clair (1906-14)

The Honorable Peyton F. St. Clair, who died at his home in Giles County during the latter portion of the summer [of 1914], was born fifty-three years ago in Roanoke County. During the early part of his life his father moved to Pulaski County and then to Giles. The latter place was his home during the remainder of his life. In Giles he married a Miss Cecil, the daughter of the late Daniel Cecil of Giles.

Mr. St. Clair was a self-made man in the best sense of the word. He rose to independence and fortune and to prominence in county and state politics because of the keenness of his intellect, his intense energy and activity. He served as County Chairman of the Democratic party of his county for a number of years and also as Chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee of the Ninth District, filling both positions with great success. He served his state for two terms as a member of the State Senate. It is to be remarked about Mr. St. Clair that in his case the ordinary probation period that a new member of the Senate or House must pass through before being elected to a position of prominence was not necessary. Immediately upon entering the Senate he took his place among the most influential senators in the party and retained this place until he voluntarily severed his connection with them.

To us at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute Mr. St. Clair's death came as a severe blow. In 1905 Governor Swanson appointed him a member of the Board of Visitors of our Institution. From that time to the day of his death he had served the institution with singular devotion and ability. His service was, of course, a patrotic one since no salary or emolument attaches to the position. He became deeply interested in the welfare and future of the institution and did it service as member or Chairman of the Executive, Finance and Agriculture Committees of the board.

A man prominent in state politics and one who has made himself an enviable reputation in the judiciary remarked to the writer a few days ago that he never knew a man who could so readily accomplish everything he set out to accomplish as Peyton St. Clair. He believed, he said, that it was due in the first place to his remarkable good sense, second to his indomitable energy, and third to his happy way of approaching men. However this may be, from intimate acquaintance with Mr. St. Clair the writer can bear out the truth of the assertion that he rarely failed in that which he undertook to do.

Mr. St. Clair was buried within a half mile of his own home, and a great concourse of friends and admirers attended the funeral. So large was the gathering that those on the outside of the house of worship who could not gain admittance far exceeded the number who were on the inside. As a mark of respect, Mr. Chas. I. Wade, treasurer of the college and secretary of the board, and Professor Theo. P. Campbell, dean of the faculty, attended the funeral exercises as representatives of the board on the one hand and of the faculty on the other.

To Mr. St. Clair's family and friends all who are connected with the Virginia Polytechnic Institute extend their sincerest sympathy.

From the Bulletin of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute -- The State Agricultural and Mechanical College, Opening Number, Vol. 7, No. 4, October 1914, pp. 50-51.