Eight over 80
These proven business leaders are still going strong
What keeps a person working at an age when most of us are happy to let others take care of business? These overachieving Virginians, all over age 80, have remained hard at work mostly for one or more of three reasons.
The first is being able to continue work with family. Retirement is rarely mandatory if you or your progenitors founded the company, which is the case for many of these dynamos.
The second is their desire to make their communities a better place, whether through their businesses or charitable good deeds, but usually both.
And last, but certainly not least, most take undiminished pleasure in continuing to wheel and deal.
Meet eight* outstanding octogenarian Virginians who aren’t yet done making their mark on the commonwealth.
*The online version of this story includes a bonus ninth profile of nonagenarian Norfolk real estate magnate Harvey Lindsay Jr.
RAMON W. BREEDEN JR. | 87
President and CEO, The Breeden Co., Virginia Beach
“My hobby is really my business,” says Ramon W. Breeden Jr. “I’m thinking about it in the middle of the night.”
That level of intensity wouldn’t surprise anyone who has ever worked with the real estate magnate, who has been a go-getter from the get-go. The Richmond native grew up in modest circumstances and went to the University of Virginia on a baseball scholarship. When his parents couldn’t afford to keep him in school, Breeden wasn’t deterred, taking on odd jobs to finance his own education. He began his career as a math teacher but, desiring to be in charge of his own destiny, Breeden soon turned to real estate development and mortgage financing, founding The Breeden Co. in 1961.
In the 60 years since, The Breeden Co. has owned, managed or developed more than 15,000 apartments, 1,700 single-family homes and 2 million-plus square feet of retail and office space, mostly in Virginia. It now focuses on high-density, mixed-use projects, and its business continues to expand at a rate of 12% to 15% annually, says Breeden, who continues to work full time. “Why not?” he says about his schedule. “I’m healthy. I’m fit.”
Breeden’s son, Torrey, has worked with him in the family business for more than 20 years.
In his down time, Ramon Breeden likes to fly and still pilots his company’s corporate airplanes and helicopters. Over the years, he also served on the board of the former Commerce Bank in Virginia Beach and was a director of Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T) Co. of Virginia (now part of Truist Financial Corp.).
He also has remained involved with higher education, variously serving U.Va. as a member of the McIntire Foundation Board and the McIntire Advisory Board. Some
of his considerable energies have gone into supporting his local SPCA and United Way, as well. “I never think about doing more,” Breeden says of the prodigious number of things
he already does. “I think about doing [it] the right way.”
DAN CLEMENTE | 84
Chairman and CEO, Clemente Development Co. Inc., Vienna
When he is working, Dan Clemente doesn’t stop. “It’s 24 hours a day,” he says. “I don’t do anything else.”
With that schedule, unsurprisingly, Clemente has accomplished a lot. He started out in the 1960s as a lawyer specializing in bankruptcies, eventually becoming a nationally known expert on bank failures. He subsequently parlayed that knowledge into founding banks in Arlington and Springfield.
But at heart, Clemente is a developer. Perhaps it was in his blood, since his grandfather was in the development business in New York City with former President Donald Trump’s father, Fred. Clemente’s inaugural project was Virginia’s first-ever condominium complex, the Tower Villas in Arlington, built in 1974. Condos were such a new concept in that era, Clemente says, that state and local officials didn’t even know what a condominium was.
From that first foray into the housing market, Clemente went on to become one of the largest commercial and residential developers in Northern Virginia, and the many projects that he has undertaken in the past 40 years have helped shape the NoVa landscape, most dramatically at Tysons. There, Clemente has been a prime force behind the transformation of the former small town crossroads into an edge city. In recent years, he has been planning a $1.3 billion mixed-use project, The View at Tysons. Currently delayed because of the pandemic, the project includes plans for the tallest building in Virginia. Clemente’s wife, Juliann, serves as president of the company.
Clemente has also carved out time to be active on the civic front. Most notably, he was instrumental in the creation of George Mason University, for which he later served as a rector and chairman of the board of trustees. He has sat on many prestigious commissions, and is currently a board member of the powerful and influential Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
So, what is the secret to Clemente’s impressive productivity? Taking time off to smell the roses between projects. “Historically, I’ll not do something for six to eight months,” he says, taking that time to travel and get “educated on how the world works.” It’s a yin-yang approach to building a career, but it’s worked for him. “It helps keep me balanced,” he says.
W. HEYWOOD FRALIN | 80
Chairman, Medical Facilities of
America Inc.; chairman, Retirement Unlimited Inc., Roanoke
“As long as it is fun, I plan to continue.” That’s how Heywood Fralin sums up his decision to keep working full time as chairman of not one, but two, large businesses, both dedicated to senior care. With COVID-19 targeting older adults, Fralin has led his businesses through extremely difficult times of late.
“We faced a tremendous number of challenges,” he says, but, thankfully, the vaccinations have brought “very positive results.”
Fralin’s work ethic was shaped early. As a child, he was expected to do his chores before doing anything else, and by age 13, he was delivering newspapers. “I had a morning route delivering
121 papers,” Fralin recalls. “I had to get up at 4:30 or 5 every morning.” But he didn’t mind. In fact, the job was his idea. “These kinds of things are good lessons for kids,” he says. “It gives them a drive to succeed.”
Fralin’s 60-year-plus career certainly makes him the poster child for that view. After training as a lawyer, the Roanoke native joined the family businesses, and under his guidance both expanded exponentially: MFA Inc., which offers nursing and rehabilitation services, now has about 40 locations, and Retirement Unlimited Inc. operates 10 senior living communities. Fralin’s son William has taken over as president and CEO of both companies.
The senior Fralin is well known across the commonwealth for his civic and charitable endeavors. He serves on both the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, and he has served on the boards of visitors at his alma mater, the University of Virginia, as well as for Virginia Tech. He and his wife, Cynthia, have been outstandingly generous to both schools. In 2012, they donated their collection of American art to U.Va., which subsequently renamed its art museum in their honor. Six years later, it was Virginia Tech’s turn, when the Fralins, along with the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust, donated $50 million to the university for a biomedical research institute. Most recently, the Fralins gave U.Va. $5 million to endow the head football coach’s position.
Looking back at his illustrious career, Fralin says, “The best part of any job is the relationships with the employees and the friendships you develop.”
BARBARA FRIED | 85
President, The Fried Cos. Inc., Crozet
“I used to really enjoy rezoning,” says Barbara Fried. That’s not a claim that many folks could probably make, but after 45 years in the real estate development and management business, Fried still finds “the prospect of something new always exciting.”
Fried’s company, based out of the family farm in Crozet with offices in Greene County, focuses on building residential and office complexes, shopping centers and industrial parks, many in the Charlottesville market. It handles about $100 million in new construction projects every year and also manages properties, although it sold off many of its holdings before the 2008-09 real estate crash, Fried says.
An exception to that selloff was Olde Towne Pet Resort, a luxe boarding operation for dogs and cats with three locations in the D.C. metro area. An ardent animal lover, Fried also sponsors a therapeutic riding program on her farm. For most of her long career, Fried ran the pet spa and other enterprises in tandem with her late husband, Mark.
“He was the gas, and I was the brakes,” she says, but since his death in 2010, she had to keep her feet on both pedals. Helping her steer the company into the future are her daughter, Leah, and nephew David Lesser. But Fried remains central to everything the company does. Chief Financial Officer Steve Rotter says he copies her on every email.
Although he says he spares her the gory details occasionally when the company faces “a particular hurdle” or a new project, he consults Fried, and “they bounce ideas back and forth. Forty years of experience can’t be learned in a book necessarily,” Rotter says.
VINCENT MASTRACCO | 81
Senior partner, Kaufman & Canoles PC, Norfolk
Other than a stint as a federal law clerk in New York City when he was starting out, Vince Mastracco has practiced business law in Norfolk for more than 55 years. He began his career locally as the second lawyer in what was the solo practice of Leroy T. Canoles Jr. “I wrote to Canoles and told him I wanted to come home and work in Norfolk. Canoles said, ‘I don’t know, we’ll see how we do,’” Mastracco recalls.
How they did, as it turned out, was gangbusters. Their business prospered and grew along with the Hampton Roads region. In 1981, the practice merged with another firm to become Kaufman & Canoles, which now has eight offices and about 100 attorneys. “Timing was on our side,” Mastracco says.
Timing, though, deserves little credit for the game-changing role Mastracco has played in the region as a civic leader and lawyer specializing in mergers, acquisitions and financing. He has been involved in mega-projects such as Chesapeake’s Jordan Bridge, the Midtown Tunnel and the Hilton Norfolk The Main hotel.
As a senior attorney, Mastracco decides when he wants to work these days, offering a flexibility that has allowed him to serve on several boards and commissions, including the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, the Sentara Foundation, Eastern Virginia Medical School Foundation and Virginia Wesleyan University. As the former chairman of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, his influence extended to Northern Virginia, where VEDP played a significant role in bringing Amazon.com Inc.’s East Coast HQ2 to Arlington.
“You want to make sure to be part of something that is productive and good for the community,” Mastracco says. As both a lawyer and a citizen activist, he checks both boxes.
JIM McGLOTHLIN | 80
Chairman and CEO, The United Co., Bristol
Jim McGlothlin tried to retire when he was 62. “It wasn’t much fun,” he says. “I missed making deals and working with my associates.”
Almost 20 years later, the head of The United Co. (formerly United Coal Co.) is still making deals and still finds it “a thrill to work with really good people.”
After starting his career as a lawyer, McGlothlin, almost on a whim, bid on a floundering coal company. With the help of some partners, including his father, he turned it into a rousing success. In short order, United Coal was producing a million and a half tons of coal annually and brokering almost three times that much. McGlothlin eventually became sole owner of the renamed United Co., which diversified into mine ownership as well as oil and gas holdings in Texas. Never averse to trying something new, McGlothlin also has opened RV parks in Florida, South Carolina and Mississippi.
His latest deal is one of his biggest — McGlothlin and his high school classmate and fellow coal baron Clyde Stacy spearheaded an effort to bring a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to Bristol, a project that local voters overwhelmingly approved last November.
Plans call for the $400 million casino to open as soon as late 2022 on the site of the former Bristol Mall, which is owned by Stacy.
The venture is expected to employ about 2,000 people in the region. “We need these jobs really badly,” McGlothlin says, noting that unlike coal industry jobs, card dealers can’t be outsourced to China. For their efforts to bring the gambling complex to Bristol, McGlothlin and Stacy were recently named Bristolians of the Year by the Bristol Herald Courier.
“It’s a good way to leave our mark, to help the people in our region and our city,” McGlothlin says.
JIM UKROP | 83
Managing director and co-founder,New Richmond Ventures LLC, Richmond
“I don’t hunt, I don’t fish, I don’t go to Florida, and I threw my golf clubs in the ocean, so I have to do something,” Jim Ukrop responds facetiously when asked why he still works. Besides, he adds, “I do what I like to do. It’s not a job.”
What Ukrop calls “not a job” is being “the idea guy” for New Richmond Ventures, the five-person venture capital firm he helped establish in 2012 to help area startup companies.
“I connect the dots,” says Ukrop, who possesses a wealth of connections from a lifetime as one of Richmond’s most prominent businesspeople. “I could never read a balance sheet. I have someone else do that.
I give advice and counsel.”
Before becoming a venture capitalist, Ukrop was president, CEO and chairman of Ukrop’s Super Markets Inc., the eponymous chain of grocery stores that his family operated in the Richmond area from 1937 to 2010. He was an idea guy then too, introducing new concepts such as customer loyalty cards and prepared foods. “No one else had that” at the time, he says proudly.
In 2010, the Ukrop family sold the grocery stores and divested from First Market Bank (now Atlantic Union Bank), which Ukrop co-founded and chaired. Those sales freed up time for his heavy involvement with nonprofits. He has served on more than 20 community boards and has volunteered in a variety of capacities for his alma mater, William & Mary.
Ukrop still is active in several community organizations but is especially passionate about Virginia Learns, a statewide advisory council of business leaders that focuses on K-12 education.
Too many children, Ukrop says, “have already dropped out in their minds way before high school. That’s poor public policy.” Unlike some people of a certain age, he loves younger people, including millennials, he says. Their arrival on the scene means “one less person who likes fruit cake, one less person who likes Smithfield ham, and one less bigot.”
RICHARD WALLER JR. | 83
Owner, Waller & Co. Jewelers, Richmond Richard Waller Jr. started working at age 7.
Every day after school, he would go directly to the family watch-repair business, M.C. Waller & Sons, where his job was to wipe down the glass showcase, inside and out. “I made 10 cents a day, and I always had extra money in my pocket,” he remembers.
Fast-forward 76 years, and both Waller and the showcase can still be found at the rechristened Waller & Co. Jewelers on East Broad Street in Richmond. Waller is the third generation of his family to work in the business, which was founded by his grandfather in 1900 as a watch repair business. He has been joined in the enterprise by members of the family’s fourth generation, including sons David and Richard III and his daughter-in-law, Kim. The shop has morphed into a full-inventory jewelry store and a go-to place for members of Black fraternities and sororities in search of Hellenic-themed items, including everything from necklaces, rings and earrings to umbrellas and knee socks.
Last May, about 100 Black university students and members of Greek organizations helped pick up the pieces after the store, one of the oldest Black family-owned businesses in Virginia, suffered damage and theft during racial justice protests that sparked looting and vandalism. After helping with repairs, many of the volunteers took out their wallets to buy merchandise.
Waller was only 17 when he took over the business after the death of his father. He had five younger sisters to support, and “you do whatever is necessary,” he says. He subsequently became a master jeweler and watchmaker.
“I still have a callus from winding 150 watches every morning,” he says. Most watches these days are digital, but Waller also repairs crystals and vintage timepieces, and most days he arrives at the store at 8:15 a.m. for its 10 a.m. opening.
He doesn’t have to be an early bird, but he wants to be there. “I enjoy what I do,” he says.
HARVEY L. LINDSAY JR., 92, chairman, Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate, Norfolk
Harvey L. Lindsay Jr. has worked in real estate for a whopping 66 years, but he hasn’t tired of it yet. He continues to come in every day to try to get listings and help make deals.
“I just love the business,” he says, explaining his longevity on the job. Part of the reason for that sentiment is that real estate always has been a family affair for him. After a stint as a Marine serving in the Korean conflict in the early 1950s, he joined his father’s real estate firm.
“My dad was a great real estate man and did a lot of great things,” he says. Today, family remains central to Lindsay and to the business. His sons, Robert M. “Bob” King and William E. King, two sons-in-law, two grandsons and a nephew join him in selling, leasing, managing, financing and developing commercial properties, primarily in Hampton Roads. Lindsay’s definition of family extends into his community, where he has a distinguished history of pursuing social justice.
In the 1950s, he chaired a citizens advisory committee that pushed to reopen Norfolk public schools that had closed instead of integrating. At various times since, he has volunteered for the United Way and served on the board of Eastern Virginia Medical School (then known as the Medical College of Hampton Roads) along with being active in civic institutions such as the former Norfolk Chamber of Commerce. He currently sits on the boards of the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation and the Harbor’s Edge Foundation.
In 2018, the CIVIC Leadership Institute presented Lindsay with its Darden Award for Regional Leadership in honor of “his optimism, his regional vision and his commitment to justice for all.” The following year, Old Dominion University recognized his business acumen by naming its real estate program after him. Lindsay’s wife, Frances, passed away three years ago, and he’s had a difficult time coping with the loss.
“Coming in to work helped me through that,” he says, in no small part because it has allowed him to keep “building things that will be of benefit to people in our city and our region.”