Editor’s Note: This October, we will celebrate our 30th class of 40 Under Forty honorees. Each week in 2022, The Business Journal of Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia will highlight one of our 2021 40 Under Forty honorees leading up to the announcement of our milestone class this fall.
If there is anything H. Fuller Cridlin is out to prove, it is this: A person can follow in the footsteps of their parents and mentors and make an enormous positive impact on the world around them without leaving home.
Cridlin credits his parents – Karen and his late father George – instilling in him the importance of serving his community of Jonesville, Virginia. That passion for community service was already ingrained in Cridlin when he followed his father into the legal profession.
Roy M. Jessee recalls working on a case with Fuller and George when Fuller was fresh out of law school.
“I was struck by his maturity, work ethic, attention to detail and legal acumen,” Jessee wrote in a nomination letter on Cridlin’s behalf.
By the time he was 30, Cridlin was elected Commonwealth’s Attorney for Lee County, Virginia – not an easy feat for a young man running as a Democrat in a deep-red county. Cridlin has since been reelected and has distinguished himself by successfully prosecuting hundreds of felony cases while being a champion of treatment and rehabilitation for addicts.
Along with his parents, Cynthia Kinser has also had a tremendous impact on Cridlin’s legal career. Around Lee County, Kinser – the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia was known simply as Cynthia. Cridlin recalls her blending into the aisles of the grocery store when she was back home.
Her humility became more impressive to Cridlin during the year he clerked for her in Richmond. As he put it, “they rolled out the red carpet” for her in the state capital, but that didn’t change the way she treated others back home.
“If there’s anyone who should have an ego, it should be her,” Cridlin said. “But she is the most humble, down-to-earth person I ever met.”
In a letter of recommendation written on Cridlin’s behalf, Kinser mentioned the Cridlin’s impact on Lee County.
“Fuller consistently demonstrates a strong work ethic, sound judgment, excellence in all that he undertakes, and genuine concern for the citizens of Lee County and Southwest Virginia,” Kinser wrote.
That concern for the people of Lee County has compelled Cridlin to get involved in many ways. He serves on the board of Powell Valley National Bank, making him the fourth generation in his family to do so.
But a scholarship Cridlin presents annually to a high school senior in Lee County is probably nearest and dearest to his heart. The scholarship is given in his father’s memory to a senior who plans to pursue a career in public service.
There is no GPA requirement or prerequisite for the scholarship, just an understanding that the winner must have a passion for serving others in the community.
“Every year I get to make a call to the winning student, and that’s probably my favorite thing I get to do every year,” Cridlin said.
While many young professionals have five-year plans, being in an elected position requires Cridlin to think in four-year increments. He’d like to continue in the role his is in, but that is up to the voters.
In the same respect, Cridlin said he might like to become a judge, which would allow him to follow in his grandfather Joseph’s footsteps, but that is also out of his control as appointments are made in the general assembly.
No matter where his professional journey takes him, Cridlin is intent on staying home in Lee County, and finding as many ways as he can to help those around him.
“This is where I want to stay, and I think I will stay here regardless of what happens,” he said.
Next week we will profile Ashley Davies of the Tennessee Department of Health. If you would like to nominate someone for inclusion in the 2022 class of 40 Under Forty, visit 40under.com/nominate and follow the instructions.