Leon Bramlett

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Leon Bramlett
Born Leon Crow Bramlett, Jr.
(1923-09-17)September 17, 1923
Died October 19, 2015(2015-10-19) (aged 92)
Clarksdale, Mississippi, USA
Resting place Oakridge Cemetery in Clarksdale
Alma mater
Occupation Farmer; businessman; politician
Political party Republican nominee for Governor of Mississippi (1983)
Spouse(s) Virginia McGehee Bramlett (m. 1947; d. 2012)

Leon Bramlett, III
Sallie Key Bramlett Russell

Virginia Hartridge Bramlett

Leon Crow Bramlett, Jr., known as Lee Bramlett (September 17, 1923[1] – October 19, 2015), was an American farmer and businessman from Clarksdale, Mississippi, who was a 1944–1945 All-American football player at the United States Naval Academy and the 1983 Republican nominee for governor of Mississippi.

Sports and military background[edit]

Bramlett was the son of Leon Bramlett, Sr. (1899–1957), a native of Lyon near Clarksdale in Coahoma County, Mississippi. He attended the University of Mississippi in Oxford in 1941 and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 1942. He graduated in 1947 from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He played football at all three institutions. In 1944 and 1945, he was an All-American player for the Navy Midshipmen. He also lettered in boxing and was a heavyweight champion in 1944 and 1945. In 1944, he led the Midshipmen in pass receptions with 10 catches for 145 yards. Forty-four years later in 1988, Bramlett was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. Bramlett played in 1945 against another future Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer, Doc Blanchard, a member of the team at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Army defeated Navy 32–13 in the game. From 1948 to 1949, Bramlett coached the Naval Academy football team.[1]

After graduation from the Naval Academy, Bramlett served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.[2]

Political interests[edit]

In 1979, Bramlett, a former Democrat, sought the Republican nomination for governor but lost in the low-turnout primary election to the late Gil Carmichael, a businessman from Meridian, 17,216 (53 percent) to 15,236 (47 percent).[2] Carmichael had been the 1975 nominee against Cliff Finch and had also carried the GOP banner against U.S. Senator James Eastland in 1972. Also in the race was a persistent Eastland critic, the Republican-turned-Independent Prentiss Walker, a former member of the United States House of Representatives for Mississippi's 4th congressional district.

In 1983, Bramlett won the gubernatorial primary and faced the Democrat Bill Allain, a popular state attorney general known for his fight against utility rate hikes and his opposition to the storage of nuclear waste in Mississippi. In the campaign, the private detective Rex Armistead, formerly with the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, helped to spread rumors that Allain had sexual intercourse with two African-American male transvestites.[3][4][5] Allain denied the charges.[4] The tranvestites went on the record with a lie detector test but in 1984, after the election had been held, they claimed that they had never met Allain and had been paid for their testimony.[3][6]

Bramlett lost the general election, 288,764 (38.9 percent) to Allain's 409,209 (55.1 percent). Charles Evers, the African American civil rights activist from Fayette, ran as an Independent and polled 30,593 (4.1 percent).[2] Carmichael ran in 1983 for lieutenant governor against the incumbent Democrat Brad Dye, who prevailed with 464,080 votes (64.3 percent) to Carmichael's 257,623 (35.7 percent). Bramlett hence outpolled Carmichael by just over 31,000 votes when both were on the ballot as ticket mates.[2]

Bramlett also served as the in-state representative for Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, first elected to the U.S. House in 1972 and the Senate in 1978.[2]

Family life[edit]

In 1947, Bramlett married the former Virginia McGehee, known as Skeeter Bramlett (1923–2012), a native of Greenville, Mississippi, and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Thomas McGehee. Virginia attended elementary school in Grenada, Mississippi, and returned to Greenville to graduate there from Greenville High School. She subsequently received a degree from Randolph-Macon Women's College, now known as Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she was a member of Chi Omega sorority and the president of the Student Government Association. She was named "Miss Greenville" by the Chamber of Commerce. When the Bramletts married, he was serving in the Marines, and the young couple lived for a time in Quantico, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. They then returned to Clarksdale, where Bramlett had his farming interests. They were active in the First Presbyterian Church, a conservative Presbyterian Church of America congregation in Clarksdale.[7]

Three children were born to the union of Leon and Virginia Bramlett: Leon C. Bramlett, III, of Clarksdale, Sallie Key Bramlett Russell (1948–1984),[8] and Virginia Hartridge Bramlett of Bowie in Montague County near Wichita Falls, Texas. Leon, Jr., and Virginia Bramlett, Sallie Russell, and Leon Bramlett, Sr., are interred at Oakridge Cemetery in Clarksdale.[7][9]

Bramlett was the owner of Bramlett Farms and Bramlett Gin & Delint in Clarksdale.[2] He died on October 19, 2015.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Leon C. "Lee" Bramlett". msfame.com. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Leon Bramlett". ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b John Howard, Men Like That: A Southern Queer History, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1999, pp. 281–297
  4. ^ a b "Elections '83; A Winning Round", Time magazine
  5. ^ Warren Johansson, William A. Percy, Outing: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence, Routledge, 1994, p. 156 [1]
  6. ^ "Transvestites withdraw allegations", Rock Hill Herald 
  7. ^ a b "Obituary for Virginia Bramlett". Memphis Commercial Appeal, December 3, 2012. Archived from the original on May 8, 2014. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Sallie Key Bramlett Russell". findagrave.com. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Leon Crow Bramlett". Findagrave.com. Retrieved August 16, 2017. 
  10. ^ Emily Wagster Pettus (October 19, 2015). "Leon Bramlett, Republican nominee for Mississippi governor in 1983, dies at age 92". Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Associated Press. Archived from the original on October 21, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.