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The School of Law Mourns Dean Shelley Broderick's Husband, John Clegg

Thursday, February 14, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Katherine S. Broderick
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IN MEMORIAM John Clegg 1942-2013

Dean Shelley Broderick's husband John Clegg died on January 23, 2013, six years after receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer. During December 2012, he spent two weeks in Johns Hopkins Hospital and then elected to come home to hospice care where for six weeks Shelley and their daughter Isabella, along with other loving family and friends, provided around the clock care for him. His obituary and death notice can be found below.

One ray of light in this dark period: in lieu of flowers, more than ten thousand dollars in contributions were made to the David Niblack Fund of the DC School of Law Foundation. According to Shelley, John adored Dave, "a fellow rebel,” and kept a copy of the Constitution that Dave gave him on his desk.

Each year the Niblack Fund supports a broke third year law student planning a career in criminal defense.

Dean Broderick, still exhausted, but heartened by the support of family, colleagues and friends, is now back at work. She can be reached at

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Clegg and Broderick


The fabulous John Clegg died Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013, surrounded by family and friends, great music, and the pervasive smell of garlic emanating from a huge batch of spaghetti with garlic and oil.

John's 70 years took him from the family farm near Lake Erie to Navy ports in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Europe, to his beloved San Francisco and to his beautiful homes in Washington, DC and in Maine. Like his mother Esther, whom John described by saying, "If the car's leaving the driveway, she's in it!", John's spirit of adventure led him to the worlds of Formula Atlantic and Formula One car racing; sailing the Chesapeake and New England coasts in vintage wooden sailboats; a honeymoon in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil; a family wedding in Cuba; a study trip in South Africa; and family caravans in a 36 foot "motor mansion" from Key West to Nova Scotia and countless stops in between over many, many years.

Notwithstanding John's limited formal education, which included a G.E.D. and maybe three semesters of college credit after his service in the Navy, John's list of professional accomplishments goes on and on. He was Controller for the United Can Company; Corporate Controller for the $100 million MJB Coffee Company, where he developed and implemented a state-of-the-art information management system; and Chief Financial Officer and Asset Manager for the Jonathan Woodner Company, a $500 million family-owned real estate entity operating in New York and Washington, DC. In that capacity, John's proudest achievement was the re-development of the magnificent Evening Star Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, for which he did everything from borrowing the $60 million from the bank to picking the marble in Italy for the building's grand lobby.

In 1989, John made the fateful decision to ask Shelley Broderick, then Academic Dean of the District of Columbia School of Law, on a date. He chose wisely, inviting her to join him in his fourth row center seats at the Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels concert at RFK. She agreed, but told him right up front that she would go to that concert and sit in those seats with his mother or his dog. Thus began a 24 year partnership built on as many differences as similarities. Shelley lives to work; John worked to live. Shelley is to the left of left; John was ... not. Nevertheless, they shared a love of political debate, food and wine, family and friends, music, travel, and, most of all, their daughter Isabella. They had a grand time throughout.

After his friend Jon Woodner's untimely death, John was unable to find a similar position in the face of the recession of the early 90s and so set about reinventing himself in a way that would allow maximum flexibility for raising Isabella, who was born three weeks before his 50th birthday. He started working on small building and renovation projects, long an avocation, with his best friend Robert Fouche. Eventually John and Robert started C&F Construction Co. which launched his career as a general contractor to the liberal establishment in Washington, DC. John was so not a lawyer that his front doormat reads, "Here lives a lawyer and a normal person," but he got along amazingly well with scores of public interest lawyers and other do-gooders as he transformed their rooms, floors and entire homes into beautiful spaces that both "worked" and lifted their spirits at the same time. He routinely took Isabella to the job sites after school. His clients loved it, and many became friends with the Clegg/Broderick family ever after.

John loved and appreciated women. He had a strong mother, four worshipful younger sisters, eleven nieces, a wife, and a daughter. Their daughter Isabella is so like John that she was known in the early years as "Clone Clegg." She carries on John's magnificent blue eyes, lush dark hair, long, long legs and, truth be told, his rebellious spirit. She, too, can always be found in the front row of the concert surrounded by wonderful eclectic and interesting friends, and is ready for any adventure, night or day, near or far - especially if it involves the opportunity to question authority, with a dash of good food and music!

John also had an extraordinary cadre of friends, both men and women, who were deeply loyal and loving, and ready at a moment's notice to gather for Dungeness crab and champagne, or for an oyster bake at Heart's Desire Beach near San Francisco, head out to a baseball game or, best of all, talk politics around the dinner table late into the night. He did not make friends lightly or easily, but when he did, it was for life.

John started having seizures in early 2007. An oligodendroglioma brain tumor was discovered. Over the course of the next six years, he endured brain surgery, a stroke, a heart attack, five weeks of radiation, and a year of chemotherapy. He lost and regained speech and mobility multiple times. Johns Hopkins doctors and hospital staff took good care of him.

After the first year of treatment, John was restless and looking for something to do. He went in with his family members and built what is affectionately known as "The House That John Built," a dream-come-true for the Broderick family, in their home town of South Freeport, Maine. The house - AKA The Green House - has a lovely view of the Harraseeket River, where it opens into Casco Bay, and the family's 1948 Hinkley, a wooden sailboat, is moored right out front. John loved nothing more than to sit on the deck, read the New York Times, listen to the Red Sox on the radio, and look out at the water, sipping a cold beer while waiting for his lobsters to steam in seaweed.

In November, John's brain cancer surged yet again. After two very difficult weeks at Johns Hopkins, he made the decision to come home to hospice care. For the next six weeks, he was surrounded by loving friends and family who traveled from California, Ohio, and up and down the East Coast to cook and care for him, to rub him with cucumber lotion, and to watch movies, football games, the news and to listen to music. John felt the love for sure! A haunting version of "The Thrill is Gone" by BB King and Tracy Chapman filled the room as he breathed his last.


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