An Influential McComb Attorney Who Made A Difference
He was Mack and I’m Mac. Our middle names are McDowell and we likely had kinship in nearby Amite County. We both loved sports. The tag “opinionated” fits both of us. I’ll get to that.
Thomas McDowell “Mack” Brabham, a renowned McComb attorney who practiced most types of the law for 31 years, died from heart problems on Feb. 21, 2022 at 77.
He was as fearless in the courtroom as he was on the football field. A standout lineman for the McComb Tigers in the early 1960’s, he later played at Tulane on scholarship and then graduated from the Ole Miss Law School.
I’ve heard some of his teammates say that no player ever loved the “Oklahoma drill” more than “T. Mack” Brabham. That’s where two guys line up on opposite ends of a large board and meet in the middle when whistled. A big clash follows. Mack won more than he lost of those battles.
He also won a lot of clashes in courtrooms as a trial lawyer. If he was on your side, you were the odds-on favorite to win.
McComb Enterprise-Journal editor Jack Ryan pointed out 2 examples of Mack’s skill as a litigator in a recent tribute. One came when Mack sued a nursing home for a client. He won and “his successful lawsuit… raised the state standard for proper care of their residents,” Ryan wrote.
Ryan also told about Mack, in his young days, being appointed to represent a woman charged with aggravated assault. Lacking bail money, she was held until Mack came along and took her case to the State Supreme Court. He argued it was unconstitutional for the state to provide no method for low-income people to get out of jail except for a bond. The court agreed with Brabham and freed the lady.
My first recollection of this big fellow was on the playground at North McComb Elementary School. Mack was 3 years older than I and his hulking presence kept things in order. He wasn’t a bully as were some of his large colleagues, but squirts like I didn’t mess with him.
In that same era, he and I were teammates on a “Little League” baseball team. Being older and all, he was the starting catcher and I was his admiring understudy until he moved up to a higher level. Both of us learned many life lessons from the team’s legendary manager, railroader Charles L. “Red” Womack, who had carried a flamethrower through the Pacific as a Marine in WWII.
Jack Ryan also recollected how Mack spent a lot of time in retirement researching topics and writing letters to the editor of the newspaper. Mack was a staunch conservative and frequently shared his strong beliefs with the reading public.
Wrote Ryan: “Among his many topics, (Mack) criticized Democrats, he objected to budget deficits and excessive government spending, and he approved of President Trump while acknowledging his style flaws… Some people loved what he wrote and others despised it.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mack tangled with a highly respected area physician over vaccines. “Neither budged an inch, but printing what they wrote allowed both sides to be presented. That’s what the Opinion page is supposed to do,” wrote Ryan.
Knowing my political opinions and his were somewhat apart, Mack once challenged me to a public debate. “Yeah, that’s just what I need to do – debate a millionaire trial lawyer,” I told him. He grinned.
Old football linemen, kid baseball catchers and lawyers come and go. Few will be missed like my friend T. Mack Brabham.