Cyrus R. Vance

Clarksburg Exponent
December 4, 1976

Cyrus Vance Is Native Of Clarksburg

By The Associated Press

Cyrus Robert Vance, named by President -elect Jimmy Carter on Friday to become secretary of state, is a Clarksburg native who developed an early interest in legal matters while growing up here.

"We used to spend Sundays with the John W. Davises," Vance once said in an interview. "I used to browse in Mr. Davis' law library. I remembered the smell of bound leather, and those wonderfully big shelves of law books."

Davis, a nationally known trial lawyer, was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for president in 1924.

Vance said Davis would pose legal problems for him. Vance, who was in grade school then, would spend hours researching the problem in the law library before giving Davis his "opinion."

Many years later, such painstaking work habits attracted the attention of John F. Kennedy, who named Vance deputy defense secretary. Later, Vance became a world troubleshooter for President Johnson.

Vance was born on St. Patrick's Day in 1917, the son of John Carl and Amy Roberts Vance. The family was of Welsh descent and Cyrus was the fourth generation of the family in Clarksburg. His great-grandfather, Cyrus Vance, had been mayor and his grandfather, John Vance, was a member of the first legislature at Wheeling, after the state split from Virginia.

Vance lived in Clarksburg only about six months before his father, an insurance executive, moved the family to Bronxville, N.. Y. His father died of pneumonia when the boy was 5 years old and the family returned to Clarksburg, where Cyrus attended grade school.

But his mother later sent him to a private school in Switzerland.

"She insisted that we learn to speak French," Vance recalled. "So she placed us with a Swiss family that could not speak English.

"I think this is a good example of her efforts to teach us self-reliance. It taught us to adapt to change."

Later Vance attended Kent School, a private prep school in Connecticut, and was graduated in 1939 from Yale University with a degree in economics. He was graduated from the Yale Law School with honors in 1942.

Vance entered government service in 1957 and served until 1960 as special counsel to the preparedness investigating subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. He later advised the Special Senate Committee on Space and Astronautics, chaired by then Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, D-Texas.

Vance developed a reputation for thorough work and research while in Washington. His speed reading habits helped him to keep up with workloads that may have defeated others.

"He has a photographic memory," said his mother. "I remember one time we took a motor trip out West. Bob had been on the same route years before - and he remembered every turn in the road before we came to it."

Vance has been associated with a New York law firm and recently has been a ranking foreign policy adviser to Carter.

"I feel every person who has had certain advantages should give some thou[gh]t to public service," Vance said in a 1963 interview. "I've always felt very strongly that all of us have an obligation...a duty to perform."

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