“I don’t think he ever stopped thinking about government and law,” said his son Lamar Mullis, who said his father died of congestive heart failure 10 years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Mr. Mullis was awarded the Bronze Star for his efforts aboard the USS Franklin following an attack on the aircraft carrier near Japan in World War ll.
Born in Bacon County, Ga., in 1923, Mr. Mullis was a 1950 law school graduate of Stetson University and began working as a Jacksonville city attorney in 1953, where one duty was handling legal work during the construction of Jacksonville International Airport.
Mr. Mullis left the city in 1973 and subsequently served as attorney for Orange Park before his appointment as general counsel for the Florida League of Cities in Tallahassee. He oversaw the organization of the Florida Municipal Attorneys Association before returning to Jacksonville, where he was attorney for Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Baldwin.
During his career, Mr. Mullis received a special distinguished service award and the Charles S. Rhyne Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Municipal Lawyers Association. He was a past president of the Florida Municipal Attorneys Association, which established a distinguished service award in his name.
“He was a very gentle person and well-liked,” said former Jacksonville Mayor Ed Austin, who worked with Mr. Mullis in the city’s General Counsel Office.
“I relied on Claude,” Austin said. “He kept me out of trouble.”
The former mayor said Mr. Mullis was willing to take on tough, complicated issues and had a deep knowledge of government law.
“I think he was a natural in municipal law and government law,” Austin said.
Lamar Mullis said his father believed government was an entity that could help people.
“I think he cared about what he did and the impact it had on people,” he said.
He said his father also liked to tell a good joke.
“He had a keen wit,” he said. “He was a good dad.”
Mr. Mullis met his wife, Mary Davey, at Stetson University and the two married in 1948.
Mr. Mullis was aboard the USS Franklin in March 1945 when a Japanese plane dropped two bombs that tore through the ship, destroying the hanger deck and detonating ammunition, bombs and rockets. Mr. Mullis stayed on board to help crewmembers and toss munitions overboard to limit the potential for explosions. Mr. Mullis eventually went overboard and was rescued from the sea. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
In addition to his wife, of Jacksonville, and son Lamar, of Gainesville, Ga., Mr. Mullis is survived by daughter Lish Mullis, of Jacksonville, and a granddaughter. He is preceded in death by a son, Davey Madison Mullis.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Ortega United Methodist Church, 4807 Roosevelt Blvd., Jacksonville. The Rev. Daniel Casselberry will officiate. Interment is planned for Arlington National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to a government studies graduate scholarship at the University of North Florida. Donations can be sent to: Madison-Mullis Deeming Endowed Scholarship, 4567 S. St. Johns Bluff Road, Suite 8/2601, Jacksonville, FL, 32224-2664.
The Florida Times-Union