The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously this month to name the County Courthouse in honor of retired North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge E. Maurice Braswell. He died Jan. 30 after serving more than 50 years in the legal profession. He was 94. Braswell began his career in Fayetteville as an assistant district attorney and served after that as district attorney, superior court judge and judge of the
court of appeals.
Senior Resident Superior Judge James Ammons Jr. and Cumberland County Register of Deeds Lee Warren presented a petition to County Commissioners asking that the courthouse bear Braswell’s name. Commissioners ordered that his name be installed above the Cumberland County Courthouse lettering on the front of the building at 117 Dick St. in downtown Fayetteville. A brass plaque will be placed in the interior of the courthouse.
Judge Braswell wrote more than 800 judicial opinions. He was a former President of the North Carolina Conference of Superior Court Judges and North Carolina District Attorney’s Association.
Braswell was a decorated World War II veteran. He earned his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and opened his legal practice in Fayetteville in 1950.
“Naming the Cumberland County Courthouse after Judge Braswell is a wonderful way to honor a man who had such a significant impact on this community and our court system,” said Chairman Glenn B. Adams.
“His name emblazoned on our Courthouse will serve as a reminder of his legacy and all he did for Cumberland County,” he added. Only two other courthouses in North Carolina are named for someone, according to Judge Ammons. “He was a man of impeccable character and a public servant for 50 years,” Ammons said.
Braswell was instrumental in the construction of the Courthouse, which opened in 1978. He recognized the need for more space for the effective administration of justice 10 years earlier and presented a pamphlet to the Board of Commissioners explaining the need for a new courthouse. The building proposal was approved in 1975.
Braswell was born in 1922 in Rocky Mount. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps at age 19. He served honorably during World War II as a tail-gunner on a B-17 bomber. His aircraft, named “Flaming Arrow,” recorded 41 combat missions over Europe when it was shot down. Braswell and crew were held as prisoners of war in Bucharest, Romania, for several months. He was honorably discharged in 1945 and left the Army with an Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, a Purple Heart, a presidential citation and 11 campaign and battle Bronze Stars.
At the urging of his children, he reluctantly wrote of his experiences in a book titled “Flaming Arrow: WWII as seen from a B-17.” “I don’t consider war romantic,’’ he said in an interview published in The Fayetteville Observer in 2003. “Other people, people who haven’t been in war, consider it an extended adventure. But war is terrible. The consequences of it are terrible.’’
Photo: E. Maurice Braswell