- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2004

Jay Shropshire, 59, Wilder chief of staff

RICHMOND (AP) — Jay Shropshire, a behind-the-scenes state government figure for decades, died May 23 after an apparent stroke. He was 59.

Mr. Shropshire became chief of staff to Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, a Democrat, in 1990 after having served as the Virginia Senate’s clerk since 1976. Recently, he had worked for the Fairfax Group, a private security and investigative agency.

“Jay Shropshire will be missed by a lot of people, certainly me, and it is truly shocking to learn of his passing,” Mr. Wilder said yesterday.

Mr. Shropshire was stricken at his Middleburg, Va., home and died at a Leesburg, Va., hospital, a family member said.

During his two decades in Richmond, Mr. Shropshire became a conduit to the Senate’s old Democratic majority. He served in the privy councils of some of the state’s top politicians.

He amassed a far-flung network of sources and benefactors. He stayed in frequent contact with them through a private phone line in a windowless statehouse office. The office was crammed with likenesses of his party’s symbol, the donkey.

“He was one of the modern-day experts on Virginia politics,” said Susan Clarke Schaar, Mr. Shropshire’s successor as Senate clerk.

Mr. Shropshire boasted that he preferred practicing politics the old-fashioned way: rewarding friends, punishing enemies and retaliating for slights, actual and perceived. After he became Mr. Wilder’s chief of staff, some called him the “Secretary of Revenge.”

In 1982, he expressed interest in seeking elected office by running for the 5th District seat in Congress. His plans changed, though, when Gov. Charles S. Robb named him chairman of the Compensation Board, a little-known post through which he could wield vast influence discreetly by directing millions in state dollars to sheriffs, prosecutors, court clerks and treasurers.

Mr. Shropshire was born in Martinsville, Va. He earned a management degree from the National Business College in Roanoke and a master’s degree in business administration at the College of William & Mary. He also attended the University of Richmond.

Survivors include two sisters, Donna Shropshire of Richmond and Sherlie Doherty of Roanoke; and a son, Richard T. “Rusty” Shropshire of Virginia Beach.

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