Last edited 1:21 p.m., Nov, 26, 2018
An influential attorney known by her colleagues as a “trailblazer” died Nov. 18. Husch Blackwell LLP partner Virginia Fry was 64.
Fry died of cancer, according to an obituary provided by the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association.
David Agee, a Husch Blackwell partner and longtime friend, called Fry “a trailblazer for women in the community.” He spoke to Springfield Business Journal on Nov. 19, just before a staff meeting to inform local employees about Fry’s death.
“She was one of the first women attorneys in the whole region,” Agee said. “Her awards and honors are too long of a list to list.”
Agee said Fry’s equity in the firm would be distributed in a “complicated process” to other partners. He declined to further discuss the succession plan.
Fry practiced law for 38 years, 19 of which were with Husch Blackwell. She was honored in September with the Legacy Adviser award in SBJ’s annual Trusted Advisers event. Agee accepted the award on her behalf at a DoubleTree Hotel ceremony on Sept. 14. Her absence at the event was unexpected.
Fry, who’s also been nicknamed the “Closer” by her clients, according to SBJ reporting, has earned numerous accolades for her commercial litigation practice with emphasis in labor and employment law. She was named Distinguished Attorney by the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, she was Woman of the Year in Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s Women’s Justice Awards, and she earned Best Lawyers in America nods for 14 years running in commercial litigation, employment law-management and litigation-labor and employment. Fry also was honored by SBJ in 2002 as a Most Influential Women honoree and was selected for SBJ’s 12 People You Need to Know editorial series in 2014.
At Husch Blackwell, Fry was the Springfield office’s managing partner 2008-15 and served on the firmwide executive board.
“She was a person of great business judgment and never hesitated to share her perspective with the group,” Husch Blackwell Chairman Greg Smith and CEO Paul Eberle said in a joint statement. “People listened when she spoke because they knew her views were informed by rich experience, intelligence and integrity.”
Company executives counted on Fry in 2014, when half-a-dozen partners exited Husch Blackwell’s Springfield office, leaving Fry to lead a staff of 16 employees. According to SBJ reporting, the firm’s local office had around 35 staff members working out of Hammons Tower offices as of early September.
“Sometimes cases are not about winning or losing but finding a solution to a problem,” Fry said in her Trusted Advisers profile. “I am often brought into situations that are in a crisis mode and that need a problem solver.”
At MSU, Fry was chairwoman of the board in 2017 and had served as a board governor since 2013. She graduated from MSU in 1976 and earned an MBA there a year later. She went on to earn her Juris Doctor from University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in 1980.
“We lost a visionary and pioneering leader,” said MSU President Clif Smart, via Twitter. “We will all miss her.”
Several members of the Springfield business and nonprofit communities responded to Smart’s tweet, mourning Fry’s death.
“What an incredible loss for our community. Virginia was a leader in so many ways, especially as a strong female leader and inspiration to us all,” said Janet Dankert, president and CEO of Community Partnership of the Ozarks Inc.
Bob Hammerschmidt, regional vice chairman for Commerce Bank, said he was “stunned to see this news.”
“Virginia was a servant leader and will be missed in many ways,” he tweeted.
Others included former City Manager Greg Burris, who said he “learned a lot from Virginia,” and Ozarks Technical Community College Chancellor Hal Higdon, who called Fry “a brave and caring person.”
A notice about Fry’s death sent to SMBA members said she was the first female president of the local bar association. In the newsletter, Family Court Division Commissioner Susan Jensen said Fry was a role model to her.
“She managed to be an amazing, respected, successful attorney and businesswoman, while also being a wonderful wife and mother. I will forever be in awe of her,” Jensen said.
A memorial service for Fry was scheduled Nov. 24 at Kingsway United Methodist Church, followed by a visitation with her family, according to the obituary provided by the SMBA.
Edd Akers, Rick Huffman, Tracy Kimberlin and April McDonough participate in the discussion.
Jumping in to lead a team that is already in place can be a challenge in sports and in business. Dana Ford, Head Men's Basketball Coach at Missouri State University says it's important to keep all …
What's the future of marketing research? Deborah Kassarjian of DK Insights says a lot of current marketing innovations are overpromising and underdelivering. Make sure you trust the data source that …
Why would an employee ever turn down a $200 a month raise? Jody Dow with The Springfield Dream Center explains the “Cliff Effect” that exists in the state of Missouri for people who are employed and on state or federal assistance. “You may be getting $500 in food stamps, and your raise is only increasing your pay that month by $200. Well, that’s a $300 discrepancy.” In the state of Missouri, assistance is all or nothing. The Dream Center helps workers in this situation learn how to prepare for in advance for a pay increase that results in a gap in monthly income.
Jason Gage, City Manager for the City of Springfield, says he wants coworkers to enjoy their job, take ownership, as well as understand and fulfill the mission. Gage says the problem in trying to …
“I’ve had a lot of employees that have given their two weeks notice and it was over things that I didn’t even know about, ” says Lauren Brown, Co-owner of Neighbor’s …
Rob Keck, Director of Conservation at Bass Pro Shops, says whether it’s a child negotiating with their parents for an allowance or partnering with some one to meet a goal, we all make deals. Keck …
Mark Walker, a local CEO and a member of the Drury University Board of Trustees, says employers are increasingly seeking college graduates who have some kind of meaningful real-world, hands-on …
“When I started this, I realized, number one, I have to have grit. I have to be able to know it’s a tough road,” says Julie Higgins, CEO of I Pour Life. Higgins says you shouldn’t focus on …
Dustin Myers and Jeremy Wells, co-owners of branding agency Longitude LLC, are using an online survey to get insights from customers about Springfield Diner. “Just as far as feedback, one of …
Miles Boyer says he’s able to schedule most of his photography side gigs after business hours so it doesn’t interfere with his job as Office Manager for the Southern Region of the …