Samuel Isaac Bratton, a prominent figure in Arkansas government and Democratic politics for more than 35 years, died on June 5th, 2014, at the age of 69. President Bill Clinton sent this remembrance: "I am saddened by the passing of my longtime friend Sam Bratton. Sam was a brilliant lawyer who also understood policy and politics. He played a major role in my work as Attorney General and Governor. I trusted him completely and so did everybody else, including legislators he helped persuade to support the sweeping education reform package adopted in 1983. Sam also had a good heart and a sharp wit. Being in his company was never boring. He will be deeply missed by the many people whose lives he touched." Born January 28, 1945, in Montgomery, Alabama, Bratton was the son of Samuel Isaac Bratton Sr. and Pauline Kilgore Bratton. He graduated from Earle High School and attended Hendrix College, receiving a BA degree in history and political science in 1967, after which he taught school and coached basketball in Turrell and Gosnell. He earned a JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville in 1973, where he was a member of Law Review, and he then clerked for Justice John Fogleman on the Arkansas Supreme Court. He is survived by his brother George Bratton of Conway; two nieces, Katherine and Amy; and their children. He will be greatly missed by the many friends he made over his lifetime. Bratton, a lifelong Democrat, worked with Jim Guy Tucker and Bill Clinton as an Assistant Attorney General. He began working in the Governor's Office after Clinton was elected governor in 1978. He was Liaison for Education during his first term and returned there soon after Clinton was reelected in 1982. He was Chief Counsel for Legal and Financial Policy for Clinton and served in that capacity until he was appointed Chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) by Clinton in 1989. During his tenure in the Governor's Office, there were many in state government and politics who believed there was no one who more fully understood the workings of state government, as well as the relationship that was necessary between the Governor and the Legislature. His deft coordination in fiscal and budgetary matters was instrumental in shepherding many of the Governor's policies through the Legislature from 1981 through 1989. He walked the halls of the State Capitol during Legislative sessions, and Legislators always knew that when Sam came to talk, he spoke for the Governor. Considered an expert in Arkansas education law, he was Governor Clinton's designee to the group that designed the settlement in Pulaski County School District case. He was Chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission from 1989 through 1997 and was a Commissioner from 1997 through 2001. He was Counsel to the Commissioners from 2001 until 2003. His tenure as Chairman and Commissioner is one of the longest in PSC history. During these years, he served as President of both the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the Mid-American Regulatory Commissioners. Sam's loved ones are grateful to Maurice Strong, George Howard and John Duggins for their loving care during the last years of his life. Sam loved his home at Treetops Condominiums, and the staff there made his days happier and more comfortable in many, many ways. Hospice Home Care provided special assistance during the final days of Sam's life, and Cassie Crofford made the hard days easier for all who loved Sam. In 2003, an unexpected joy came into Sam's life with the birth of the first of four granddaughters of his beloved friend Lanelle. Although he was not a man experienced with babies, fate placed a one-day-old baby girl in his care for an hour, and love was born instantly. All four girls were welcomed into Sam's world, and he received their love in return. He considered them his grandchildren and his legacy. Upon learning of Bratton's death, Richard Weiss, Director, Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DF&A), said, "My take on Sam was that he was one of the most brilliant men that I ever encountered, and he was my mentor from then on in all of Arkansas finance. He was Clinton's go-to man in all of the regular and special sessions until he got the PSC appointment. Even afterward, I frequently sought his wisdom." Bobby Roberts, Director, Central Arkansas Library System, commented, "Sam loved Arkansas and served our citizens for the better part of three decades. His work on education policy and utility regulation issues helped improve all our lives. He was intelligent, hard working and fair with everyone. What more could you want or ask from a public servant?" "We were friends for forty years. He was one of a kind," said Little Rock attorney Mac Norton, a former PSC Chairman. A celebration of Sam's life will be held at Ruebel Funeral Home on Monday, June 9, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Central Arkansas Library System, 100 Rock Street, Little Rock, Ark. 72201, or Mount Holly Cemetery Association, P.O. Box 250118, Little Rock, Ark. 72225.
Published June 7, 2014