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Visionary Prentiss Brown to be Honored at State Bar's 32nd Michigan Legal Milestone


Prentiss Marsh Brown—a St. Ignace lawyer who dreamed from boyhood of what it would take to bridge the Mackinac Straits—is the subject of the State Bar's 32nd Michigan Legal Milestone. This program honors important cases, events, and personalities in our state's rich legal history.

Prentiss M. Brown (Michigan Department of Transportation photo)

Brown's accomplishments will be highlighted at a ceremony on Friday, Sept. 28 in Grand Rapids, which coincides with the Bar's Annual Meeting. The event will begin at noon at DeVos Place. A bronze plaque recalling Brown's contributions will also be unveiled and later permanently placed at a location near the bridge. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Mackinac Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere.

Brown achieved prominence in his career first as prosecuting attorney for Mackinac County and then as a U.S. congressman, where he was a troubleshooter for President Franklin Roosevelt. He is best remembered as the "father of the Mackinac Bridge." He was appointed chair of the Mackinac Bridge Authority in 1950 and remained so until his death in 1973. Through his leadership, financing and building plans began to take shape. He and his colleagues overcame many financing obstacles, eventually funding the construction through the sale of revenue bonds. The bridge was completed in 1957 at a cost of just under $100 million.

The incoming president of the State Bar of Michigan, Ronald D. Keefe, will serve as master of ceremonies. Other speakers are:

  • Dr. William Anderson of the Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries,
  • St. Ignace attorney Prentiss M. Brown Jr., son of the honoree,
  • Hon. Barbara J. Brown, granddaughter of the honoree,
  • Thomas W. Linn, principal, Miller Canfield Paddock and Stone,
  • John McArthur, grandson of John H. Nunneley, former lead counsel to the Mackinac Bridge Authority,
  • Timothy S. Moher, president of the 50th Circuit Bar Association, and
  • Murray Wikol, a current member of the Mackinac Bridge Authority.

The Michigan Legal Milestones is a program of the SBM Public Outreach Committee and is chaired by Jeffrey F. Paulsen. This milestone dedication is held in cooperation with the 50th Judicial Circuit Bar Association, the Emmet-Charlevoix Bar Association, and the Cheboygan County Bar Association.



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State Bar of Michigan
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Lansing, MI 48933-2012
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