Looking back: Grizzard upsets Beale in primary for commonwealth attorney

Published 10:30 am Friday, July 21, 2017

by Clyde Parker

July 17, 1967

Boykins attorney Richard Grizzard pulled off one of the most stunning political victories in decades Tuesday as he rode the crest of strong County support to oust incumbent J. Vaughan Beale of Franklin in the Democratic Primary for the position of commonwealth attorney for Southampton County and Franklin.

Grizzard carried only eight of the 14 precincts in Southampton, but built up his winning margin with a 325-23 rout of Beale in Boykins. Branchville was also “Grizzard Country” as he outpolled the incumbent 188 to 8.

The total vote count was Beale 690 votes in Southampton and 595 votes in Franklin (Total: 1,285), compared to Grizzard’s 1,236 votes in Southampton and 177 votes in Franklin (Total: 1,413).

“I’m real pleased with the results,” a happy Grizzard said after the returns were in. “I felt like it would be close.”

He said he had visited some 5,500 homes personally during the campaign and visited most of the homes in Franklin and Southampton.

“We got a real good turnout on our side of the river and the vote was very light in other places. I think the win was a combination of things. I feel lucky.”

Vaughan Beale was a graceful loser, calling Grizzard “a good man.” But Beale was disappointed by the light voter turnout, especially in Franklin.

“Franklin gave me a good vote, but I had hoped for a much larger vote,” he said.

Beale was also surprised at his poor showing in many of the County precincts, especially Capron where he was outpolled 114 to 28.

“I thought I would do much better than that, but you never know,” he said.

Now, Grizzard, as the Democratic Party nominee, must face, in the General Election on Nov. 7, a possible Republican or Independent candidate. As of this writing, no one has announced.

To qualify, prospective candidates must meet state and local requirements as to age and residency and file a petition of 50 names with the Southampton County Clerk of Court by the filing deadline July 21.

Goodwin wins trip

William H. Goodwin of Steinhardt-Goodwin Equipment Company is the winner of an all-expense-paid trip to Bermuda as a result of his participation in the “More-To-Go” sales campaign just completed by International Harvester Company. The nation-wide sales campaign was based on retail deliveries of tractors, balers, and combines manufactured by International Harvester. 

Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin will fly by jet to Bermuda where they will be guests of International Harvester at the “Princess,” Bermuda’s newest hotel and cottage — Colony Golf and Beach Club.

July 20, 1967

Rhodes enters commonwealth attorney race

Franklin Attorney William J. Rhodes Jr. recently qualified as an Independent candidate to oppose in the November general election another young attorney, Richard Grizzard of Boykins, for the position of commonwealth attorney for Southampton County and Franklin. Grizzard won the Democratic nomination with an upset victory over incumbent J. Vaughan Beale of Franklin in the July 11 primary.

The 36-year-old Rhodes, a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Richmond Law School, has been active in a number of county and city organizations since his return to Franklin, in August of 1965, to open a private law practice.

Rhodes was recognized as Franklin’s “Outstanding Young Man” for the year 1966. He was given the “Jaycee of the Year” award for 1966-67.

He is vice president and member of the Board of Directors of the proposed Southampton Academy, serves on the Board of Directors of the Southampton County Cancer Society, is past secretary of the Franklin Industrial Corporation, and serves on the Board of Stewards of High Street Methodist Church.

In announcing his candidacy, Rhodes said, “I am grateful for the encouragement of many citizens of Southampton County and the City of Franklin. I want to make it perfectly clear to everyone that I want the position. By virtue of my experience, I feel that I am qualified to serve as commonwealth attorney.

“Prior to returning to Franklin, I had the privilege to work in numerous law enforcement agencies throughout Virginia. As a son of a former chief of police of the Town of Franklin, I am well aware of the responsibilities, complications and ramifications attendant to law enforcement. My family home was on First Avenue, just up the hill from the old jail and Town Hall.”

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net