February 12, 2003 News & Features » Cover Story

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Chief Justice Harry L. Carrico 

Former Chief Justice Harry L. Carrico for his vitality and years of service.

Not much has changed since Carrico stepped down Jan. 31 after 42 years on the Virginia Supreme Court. He still rises at 4:15 a.m., bikes six miles through his West End neighborhood, kisses his 40-ish wife goodbye and makes it to the office by 6:45. It's why we give our longest, most abiding kiss Carrico. For Pete's sake, he's 86!

A state law that says judges must retire after they turn 70 is forcing Carrico to give up his post as chief. Carrico was exempt from the change until now because he was in the midst of a 12-year term. Now he'll become a regular ol' senior justice, presiding over three-judge panels that consider cases for review. He'll also be a substitute.

But there's one special thing about his old job he'd like to keep, explains his wife, Lynn Brackenridge, president of Gateway Homes Inc. And that's dedicating new court buildings. Carrico has researched myriad counties and towns to write dedications for 49 courthouses. He'd like to make it 50, she says.

Their story is stuff worthy of smooching. Brackenridge met Carrico in 1993 while she was director of development for the National Center for State Courts. The two attended a conference in Seattle and one evening, found themselves seated next to each other. The easy talk spurred a day trip to Vancouver.

Back in Richmond, Carrico, a long-time widower, asked Brackenridge out. After dinners to La Petite France and Peking, it occurred to Brackenridge that the dates weren't work-related, she says amusingly. Finally, on their third date, a bike ride, she confides: "I left my briefcase at home." The two were married in London in 1995. Remarkably, the four decades that separate them don't appear to matter. Along with a deep love of their respective families -- Carrico has three great-grandchildren and a fourth on the way -- Brackenridge confesses, "My true joy in life is my wonderful husband, Harry."

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