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Former Board of Visitors Rector Frank Crenshaw Dies

Francis Nelson "Frank" Crenshaw, 89, of Norfolk, a former rector of the Old Dominion University Board of Visitors, died Jan. 26, 2012, at Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital. He was a nationally recognized attorney and retired senior partner of the firm Crenshaw, Ware & Martin.

Crenshaw served on ODU's Board of Visitors from 1968 to 1976, leading the board as rector from 1970-76.

Born in Washington, D.C., he was the fourth of five children of Russell S. Crenshaw and Polly Robins Crenshaw. He was predeceased by his first wife of 44 years, Jane Elizabeth Treadwell Crenshaw, and is survived by his current wife, Anne Alfriend Abbitt Crenshaw.

Crenshaw graduated from the University of Virginia in 1942. He then entered the U.S. Navy, serving primarily on the destroyer U.S.S. Patterson in the Pacific until the end of the war. He was awarded the Bronze Star, with four clusters. After discharge from the Navy in 1946, he entered law school at UVa, receiving his degree in 1948.

Upon completion of law school, Crenshaw came to Norfolk and in 1950 joined the law firm Baird, White & Lanning. The firm changed its name on several occasions, becoming Crenshaw, Ware & Martin in 1989. He became the senior partner of the firm in 1968 and retired from active practice in 1997.

Crenshaw served as general counsel for the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority for more than 40 years, beginning in 1954, during which he assisted in the drafting of the Virginia Housing Authorities Law and successfully argued a housing authority case before the U.S. Supreme Court, winning a unanimous favorable decision from the court in 1983.

He served as president of the Norfolk and Portsmouth Bar Association and served on the Executive Committee of the Virginia Bar Association. He was a member of the Maritime Law Association of the United States, a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation.

Crenshaw was a member of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners for 17 years, and served as president of that board for almost seven years, from 1983 to 1990. In 2000, he was honored with the Eggleston-I'Anson Professionalism Award, the most prestigious award presented by the Norfolk and Portsmouth Bar Association, recognizing the highest achievements of legal ethics and professionalism.

He played an active role in the Norfolk community, serving on the Norfolk School Board for eight years, during which he was chairman for three years. His chairmanship coincided with the state's massive resistance efforts to close the Norfolk schools, and he was instrumental in seeing to the reopening of the schools as integrated entities. He served for many years as a Sunday school teacher and member of the vestry at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Norfolk.

Crenshaw and his first wife had three daughters: Elizabeth C. Ford of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands; Page C. Burke of Lynchburg, Va.; and Marian C. Thomas of Norfolk. He was step-father to Anne Abbitt Crenshaw's sons, John M. Abbitt III, Robert B. Abbitt, James B. Abbitt and Jeffrey A. Abbitt.

In addition to his wife, Anne, Crenshaw is survived by his three daughters and their husbands, seven grandchildren and one great granddaughter. He is also survived by his step-sons John, Robert and James Abbitt, six step-grandchildren and one step-great grandson. He was predeceased by step-son Jeffrey Abbitt. Crenshaw is survived by his brother, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Russell S. Crenshaw Jr., of Drayden, Md.

A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 7400 Hampton Blvd., Norfolk. A reception will follow the service in the church social hall. H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments, Norfolk Chapel, is handling arrangements. Online condolences may be made through www.hdoliver.com.

This article was posted on: January 30, 2012

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