Henry Clifton Hester ’78

Henry Clifton Hester, 65, died peacefully on September 17, 2022 with his wife and children by his side. Cliff was born on September 19, 1956 in Elizabethtown, NC to the late Anne Sutton Hester and the late Worth Hutchinson Hester. After his birth mother’s death in 1958, Cliff was raised by his loving mother, Anna Ruth King Hester. 

Cliff is survived by his devoted wife of 39 years, Erin, his three children, Katherine Hester Doehring (Jamison), Clay Sutton Hester (Eliza), and Corinne Hester Crews (Connor), and four grandsons who were the light of his life, Henry Jamison Doehring, James Clifton Crews, Robert Lewis Hester, and Benjamin Hughes Doehring. He is also survived by his mother, Anna Ruth, and seven siblings: Beth Snyder (David), Emily Villegas (Bobby), Ruth Robertson, Worth Hester, Jr. (Karla), Matthew Hester (Cindy), Mark Hester (Rebecca), and Anita Willington (Brian). Cliff was dearly loved by many nieces and nephews.

Cliff was a 1974 graduate of East Bladen High School. In 1978, he graduated from Davidson College, where he served as a captain of the football team and met the love of his life, Erin. He received his law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1981. After practicing briefly in Atlanta, Cliff returned home to Elizabethtown to join his father’s law practice at the firm that continues today as Hester, Grady & Hester.

He practiced law in Elizabethtown for 39 years and was known as a compassionate and tireless advocate for his clients. A self-described “country lawyer,” his general law practice served many in need in Southeastern North Carolina and beyond.   

Cliff served as the Town Attorney for the Town of Clarkton and the Town of White Lake for over 35 years. His commitment to professionalism was known by many across the state, as he was elected to the North Carolina State Bar Council, on which he served for nine years. Cliff will be deeply missed by many clients, colleagues, and faithful employees.  

In 1993, Cliff and his wife Erin moved to Wilmington, NC, where they raised their three children. He was an amazing father and husband, nimbly balancing his call to serve others through his law practice and the joy he found in family life. He could be found cheering from the sidelines of his children’s sporting events, building sandcastles at Wrightsville Beach, reading aloud or reciting his favorite stories and poems, and imparting wisdom to his adoring children. 

Cliff was a faithful member of St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church where he served as an elder and taught Sunday School to both children and adults. Cliff lived out his faith in all facets of his life and always put others first. His kindness and gentleness were eclipsed only by his humility. 

A memorial service will be held at St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, NC at 2:00 pm on Friday, September 23, 2022. A reception in Brown Fellowship Hall will follow the service. The family will also receive visitors at the Elizabethtown Baptist Church, 1800 West Broad Street, Elizabethtown, NC between 4:00 and 6:00 pm on Thursday, September 22, 2022.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church or the Davidson College Athletic Fund (Football Gridiron Club).