Home>In Memoriam>Robert Bourne, JFK administration official, dies at 88

Robert Bradford Bourne

Robert Bourne, JFK administration official, dies at 88

Summit attorney helped register voters during Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964

By David Wildstein, February 16 2020 5:33 pm

Robert Bradford Bourne, a Summit attorney who worked in the administration of President John F. Kennedy, died on January 24.  He was 88.

Bourne served as a staff attorney and acting chief of the Administration of Justice section at the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights.  In 1964, he served as a defense counsel to underprivileged African American teenagers and helped register voters in Mississippi.

He served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps and graduated from Harvard College and Harvard law.  After a clerkship with U.S. District Court Judge Dickinson Debevoise, Bourne worked at Riker Emery and Danzig (now Riker Danzig) before joining the Kennedy administration.

In 1974, Bourne filed a lawsuit alleging that the Republican-controlled Summit Common Council’s reapportionment plan discriminated against the city’s less affluent neighborhoods.   Superior Court Judge Ervin Fulop upheld the plan.

Bourne is survived by his wife, six children and nine grandchildren.  A celebration of his life is set for February 29 at the Cavalry Episcopal Church in Summit.

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