by Henry Lane Hull
For nearly 40 years I have been friends with Chris Stamm, but 2018 was the year that I truly came to know him. Early in the year, Chris was diagnosed with cancer, and spent three months in intensive care in the hospital facing a dire prognosis. Happily, that stage was not quite to be the final chapter in his life as Chris still had more to give to his community.
He recovered, was able to return home, and eventually was back in his law office, practicing the profession of which he was a genuine master. In the course of his return he handled a real estate matter for our family, during which we had many conversations, and I had a number of other chats at our usual meeting place, the Tri-Star Supermarket.
Every time we spoke over the past eight months, whether informally or professionally, Chris commented on his faith that God had spared him for some purpose, and that he knew he had survived to be able to do good deeds for others. He never wavered from that conviction. Chris was an utterly practical man, who understood that a reason existed for everything that happened, and that it was our task in life to try to grasp that reason, and live accordingly.
Chris truly thrived on the practice of law in a small town. He had been born in Chicago, come to the Northern Neck and graduated from Lancaster High School, after which he matriculated at Richard Bland Community College before transferring to the University of Richmond where he received his undergraduate degree.
Five years later following his graduation from law school at the University, he was admitted to the bar in 1978. He then returned here to his element to pursue his profession in the lower Northern Neck. He was far more than an attorney and counselor to his clients; indeed he was a friend to each of them, always putting the client’s interest first, explaining every detail with patience and clarity. He instilled confidence in all those he represented, and made the carrying out of their contractual obligations far less burdensome.
Completely at home in his knowledge of all aspects of the law, Chris served for many years as the town attorney for Kilmarnock, where successive councils and mayors benefited from his advice. He was a true son of the Northern Neck, one who perhaps could have made more by way of fortune in larger metropolitan areas, had wealthier clients, and made his mark on larger legal communities, but for him, such a direction would have taken him away form the land and people he understood and appreciated.
In my last conversation with Chris three weeks ago he mentioned that the following day he would be heading to Richmond for a check-up. He seemed optimistic, looking forward to getting back to his old routine. He often said he never planned to retire, and expected to work until “they carry me out.” When we finished our chat and I wished him success at the doctor’s, he said quite positively that he thought all would be well.
Sadly, that was not to be the case for on Christmas Eve he returned to the hospital for the last time, and Friday evening Chris died at the age of 67. Earlier in the column I mentioned that he could have been successful in any venue; numerous individuals and families across our region over the past four decades have enjoyed a finer quality of life because the Northern Neck had been his venue and he had been their attorney and friend. Our community is blessed that he chose to stay in his hometown and make his living among us.
Paul Christian Stamm, June 25, 1951 – December 28, 2018. R.I.P.