Madison-Former Wisconsin Attorney General Bronson C. La Follette, the Grandson of “Fighting Bob” La Follette, died peacefully Thursday, March 15th, 2018 at UW Hospitals surrounded by his family. He was 82.
Bronson was born on February 2, 1936 in Washington D.C. to Senator Robert M. Jr. and Rachel La Follette. He attended Landon Preparatory Academy in Bethesda, Maryland and spent his summers on the family farm in Maple Bluff. A Badger at heart, he chose to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1956. He received an undergraduate degree in Political Science in 1958 and a Doctor of Law degree in 1960.
In 1962, after two years in private practice, Bronson was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. In 1964, he was elected Wisconsin Attorney General and was the youngest Attorney General in American history elected to the office. He served two consecutive two-year terms. In 1968, he was the Democratic candidate for Governor and lost to incumbent Warren Knowles.
Bronson returned to public service in 1974 when he was elected Attorney General for a four-year term. He ran unopposed for another four-year term in 1978. In 1982, he was the first candidate for state-wide office to receive over one million votes. He retired from public service in 1987 and practiced law until his retirement in 2002.
Known as “The Peoples Lawyer”, Bronson received numerous awards and national acclaim for his role in consumer protection. He was a founder and Chairman of the National Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection. He served on the Board of Directors of the National Consumer’s Union, the publisher of “Consumer Reports” magazine. He served for four years on the President's Consumer Advisory Council and served two years as chair.
In 1987, Bronson founded the Dane County Project for the Prevention of Child Abuse and received the National Exchange Club Community Service Award for his work. In 1985, he was Chairman of the National Campaign for Missing and Exploited Children. He served on the Advisory Board for the International Sister Cities Board of Directors and received the Wisconsin Civil Liberties Union Award for Distinguished Service. In 1975 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Wisconsin District Attorney’s Association. Bronson was also awarded the “Flying Fickle Finger of Fate” Award from Rowan and Martin’s “Laugh In” TV show, for his dog Cutter’s popular antics involving the local police department’s arrests for “running at large”. Cutter’s attorney, Edward Ben Elson, defended the foot loose canine, insisting Cutter be tried by a jury of his peers.
In 1978, Bronson married the love of his life, Barbara, who has been by his side for over 40 years. He was an avid football fan, holding season tickets for both the UW Badgers and the Green Bay Packers. He was at his happiest when entertaining friends, listening to traditional jazz, playing the washboard and discussing politics.
Bronson is survived by his wife, Barbara, son Robert M. La Follette IV, daughter Deborah Wills, daughter-in-law Tania La Follette, two grandsons, Keola Wills, and Bronson K. La Follette, two great grandchildren, brother-in-law, Pete (Jane) Wood and his beloved furry companion, Spencer. He was preceded in death by his parents Senator Robert and Rachel La Follette, brother Joseph La Follette and sister in-law, Vera La Follette. Bronson was a member of Maple Bluff Country Club, Madison Club, and a current member of the Elks Club and Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.
The family wishes to thank the medical staff at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics and especially to the team of nurses and doctors at the UW Cardiac ICU who are truly worth their weight in gold.
A celebration of Bronson’s life will be held at the Madison Elks Club, 711 Jenifer St, on Saturday, April 7th from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. A memorial program will be held at 5:30 p.m.
Throughout his nearly two decades of public service, Bronson fought for the principles of democracy, civil rights, consumer protection, transparency in government and conservation in the finest tradition of Wisconsin Progressivism.
To view and sign this guestbook, please visit: www.ryanfuneralservice.com.
Joyce-Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services
5701 Odana Road