Leon Bramlett

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Leon Crow "Lee" Bramlett, Jr.

(Mississippi athlete, businessman and former gubernatorial candidate)

Leon Bramlett in later years.jpg

Born September 17, 1923
Clarksdale, Mississippi
Died October 19, 2015 (aged 92)

Resting place:
Oakridge Cemetery in Clarksdale

Political Party Republican nominee for Governor of Mississippi (1983)
Spouse Virginia McGehee "Skeeter" Bramlett (married 1947-2012, her death)

Sallie Key Bramlett Russell. (deceased)
Leon Crow Bramlett, III
Virginia Hartridge Bramlett
Leon, Sr., and Elizabeth Jones Bramlett
Alma mater:
University of Mississippi University of Alabama United States Naval Academy

Religion Presbyterian Church of America

Military Service
Service/branch United States Marine Corps (officer)
Bramlett as football star in 1940s

Leon Crow Bramlett, Jr., sometimes known as Lee Bramlett (September 17, 1923 ‐ October 19, 2015), was a 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 gubernatorial nominee.

Sports and military background

Bramlett was the son of Leon Bramlett, Sr. (1899–1957), a native of Lyon near Clarksdale in Coahoma County in northwestern Mississippi and the former Elizabeth Jones (1900-1980). He attended the University of Mississippi at Oxford in 1941 and the University of Alabama at 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, Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard (1924-2009), a member of the team at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and a native of South Carolina. 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

In 1979, Bramlett, a former Democrat, sought the Republican nomination for governor but lost in the low-turnout primary election to Gil Carmichael, a businessman from Meridian, 17,216 votes (53 percent) to 15,236 (47 percent).[2] Carmichael had been the 1975 nominee against Democrat Charles Clifton "Cliff" Finch (1927-1986) and had also carried the GOP banner against U.S. Senator James Eastland in 1972 and the Republican-turned-Independent Prentiss Lafayette Walker (1917-1998), a one-term member of the United States House of Representatives from 1965 to 1967.

In 1983, Bramlett won the gubernatorial primary and faced the Democrat William Alexander "Bill" Allain (1928-2013), 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 (1930-2013), 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 claims,[4] the tranvestites took a lie detector test, but in 1984, after the gubernatorial election had been held, they claimed that they had never met Allain and had not been paid for their testimony.[3]

Bramlett lost the general election, 288,764 (38.9 percent) to Allain's 409,209 (55.1 percent). James Charles Evers (1922-2020), the African American civil rights activist from Fayette and the brother of slain Medgar Evers (1925-1963), ran as an Independent and polled 30,593 (votes 4.1 percent).[2] Carmichael ran in 1983 for lieutenant governor against the incumbent Democrat Bradford Johnson "Brad" Dye, Jr. (1933-2018), 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 the late Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, a Moderate Republican first elected to the U.S. House in 1972 and the Senate in 1978.[2]

Family life

In 1947, Bramlett married the former Virginia McGehee, known as Skeeter Bramlett (1923–2012), a native of Greenville in western 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 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 Marine Corps, and the young couple lived for a time in Quantico, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.[6] The couple then returned to Clarksdale, where Bramlett had farming interests. He owned Bramlett Farms and Bramlett Gin & Delint in Clarksdale.[2] They were active in the First Presbyterian Church, allied with the conservative Presbyterian Church of America congregation in Clarksdale, unaffiliated with the liberal Presbyterian Church of the USA.[7] Leon Bramlett, III, of Dallas, Texas, and Virginia Hartridge Bramlett of Bowie in Montague County near Wichita Falls, Texas. Leon and Virginia Bramlett are interred at Oakridge Cemetery in Clarksdale, along with their daughter, Sallie Russell.[8]


  1. Leon C. "Lee" Bramlett. msfame.com. Retrieved on May 6, 2014; material no longer accessible on-line.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Leon Bramlett. ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved on September 3, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 John Howard, Men Like That: A Southern Queer History, ( Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1999), pp. 281–297
  4. 4.0 4.1 Elections '83; A Winning Round". Time magazine. Retrieved on May 6, 2014; material no longer accessible on-line.
  5. Warren Johansson and William A. Percy (1994). Outing: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence. Routledge. 
  6. Virginia “Skeeter” McGehee Bramlett. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on September 3, 2020.
  7. Sallie Key Bramlett Russell. findagrave.com. Retrieved on September 3, 2020.
  8. Leon Crow Bramlett, Jr.. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on September 3, 2020.