A week after the death of pioneering judge John Johnson, South Florida has lost another prominent jurist. Retired Judge Harold Braynon, 79, died on July 25, at the University of Miami’s Hospital. The family preferred to keep his cause of death private.
Son, Harold Braynon Jr. said his father was best described by a line in the Rudyard Kipling poem, If, which says, “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch…”
He could interact with “high people in high places and low people in low places,” Braynon said.
Braynon, a high school social studies teacher, said his father was “retired, but not really retired.” As a former probate judge, people continued to seek his advice on issues regarding family wills and other probate related issues.
As a 1949 graduate of Booker T. Washington Senior High school in Miami, Braynon said his father and the rest of his surviving classmates remained extremely active.
“They still meet all the time,” he said of the group that called themselves the “49ers.”
Braynon was born in Miami on June 4, 1932. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
A statement provided by the family said that Braynon opened Matthew, Braynon and Mapp, P.A., the first black law firm in Miami-Dade County with two attorneys.
Braynon entered private practice in Miami Dade County in June 1962. He represented the NAACP and black parents of Monroe, County Florida in the public school desegregation case in 1963 in front of the Florida Supreme Court.
Braynon prevailed in the first public accommodations suit under the Civil Right Act of 1964 in the State of Florida in Major vs. Burger Fare, Inc., a Key West restaurant. Braynon also went before the Florida Supreme Court with the public accommodations suit, Matthew vs. Family Fine food Restaurant, located in Perry, Fl.
Besides his legal career, Braynon was also a radio host on “Hot Line,” one of the first black talk shows aired in Miami.
He served in various positions such as Special Counsel for Veterans Affairs in Miami in 1964 and from 1966-1968 as Assistant Attorney General of the State of Florida. In 1969 he was appointed as municipal judge of the City of Miami, then in 1970 was the youngest judge to become a charter member of the Judicial Counsel of the National Bar Association.
After leaving the bench, he returned to private practice with his law firm. While in private practice he was appointed as District Legal Counsel for the Department of HRS in 1977. Braynon practiced law until he retired in December, 1997.
A viewing will take place at Range Funeral home on Friday, July 29, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, July 30 at 10 am at Saint Paul AME Church 1892 NW 51 Terr. in Miami.