Attorney and politician William T. Brotherton Jr. died on April 6, 1997, at age 70. During his long career, he’d risen to the top position in two of West Virginia’s three branches of government.
The Charleston native was Kanawha County’s assistant prosecuting attorney for two years, before being elected to the House of Delegates in 1952. He served in the House for 12 years, then moved on to the state Senate in 1965. He lost his senate seat in 1980, when he was upset by a little-known politician named Bob Wise. During his 28 years in the legislature, Bill Brotherton served as majority leader in both houses, as president of the Senate, and as chair of the powerful judiciary committees in both the House and Senate.
Brotherton wasn’t done with politics after his upset loss to Wise. In 1984, he mounted a comeback by defeating incumbent Supreme Court Justice Sam Harshbarger in the Democratic primary. He served on the state supreme court until retiring in 1995 following a massive heart attack. He served as chief justice of the court on two occasions: in 1989 and 1994.