Carl O. Bradford

November 16, 1932March 29, 2020

Carl O. Bradford, Yarmouth, Maine Retired Justice, Maine Superior Court

Yarmouth, ME- Judge Carl O. Bradford passed away peacefully on March 29, 2020 at the age of 87.

Born on November 16, 1932 in Dallas, Texas, Carl was the second son of Montie Leroy and Vivian Ila Milam Bradford. He spent his early childhood in Waco, Texas. The family moved frequently during WWII as his father, a lineman-electrician, helped build Manhattan Project sites at Los Alamos, Hanford, and Oak Ridge. The family settled in Detroit, Michigan after the war; Carl graduated from Southeastern High School in 1950.

Carl entered the US Navy Reserve in 1951, was called to active duty in 1953, and was stationed at the Brunswick Naval Air Station. He married Claire Chaloux of Lewiston, Maine in 1955 and started a family while working and going to college at the University of Detroit on the GI Bill. Judge Bradford entered law school in 1959 and led the first class to graduate from the University of Maine School of Law in 1962. After passing the bar, he worked in the Maine Attorney General’s Office before joining the Paul Powers Law Firm in Freeport. He became a partner and practiced law as a trial attorney for over 17 years. Carl served his community in many ways, including little league coach, trustee of Freeport’s B.H. Bartol Library, Commodore of the Harraseeket Yacht Club, and various positions in the Cumberland County Bar Association, the Maine Bar Association and the Maine Trial Lawyers Association. Judge Bradford was committed to service to his profession, to enriching the lives of others, and to extending the mentorship and opportunities he had received to those generations coming after him.

The family settled in South Freeport in 1965. However, tragedy struck when Carl’s wife, Claire, died suddenly in December 1972, leaving him with three teenaged children: Timothy, Kathleen, and Elizabeth Ann. Carl met and married Mary Ellen Sanborn Manson of Yarmouth, a widow with two young children, Bethany and Michael, in 1973. The family lived in South Freeport until 1977, when they moved to a home on Cousins Island in Yarmouth where Carl’s family lived for over four decades. Carl’s wife, Mary Ellen, died after a brief illness in December 2016.

Judge Bradford’s contributions to the practice of law have been significant and far-reaching. As a trial attorney, he set several legal precedents, most notably Davies v. City of Bath (Me. 1976), abolishing state Sovereign Immunity for tort in Maine. In 1981, Judge Bradford was appointed to the Maine Superior Court. During his tenure, he presided over a number of high-profile cases. He later used that wealth of experience in his work as an Active Retired Justice (ARJ), becoming much sought after for his mediation skills. For a number of years as an ARJ, Carl was very successful in helping litigants and lawyers find ways to settle complex cases that others had considered unresolvable short of trial.

Over the course of his career, Judge Bradford served on the Board of Governors and as President of the Maine Bar Association; member of the Board of Governors and House of Delegates of the American Bar Association; and served on numerous commissions and committees. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the National Judicial College, and testified before the U.S. Congress on judicial immunity legislation.

Judge Bradford was a true Renaissance man whose talents went far beyond the courtroom. His sense of humor was legendary; he always delighted in making others groan at his horrible puns. Carl was known for his love of early jazz and frequently played gigs around the state with his band, Port City Jazz, as lead vocalist and trumpeter. He hosted a weekly jazz show on WYAR. Carl’s paintings and silkscreen art adorned many homes of family and friends. For over twenty years he created the family silkscreened Christmas card. Photography was also a great passion, and he never missed an opportunity to document family gatherings, grandchildren’s sports endeavors, and travels that he and Mary Ellen enjoyed. Carl was well known in the Yarmouth community to be a dedicated fan of his two youngest grandchildren’s various sporting events. He could always be counted on being along the side lines, and in the ice rinks conversing with other parents and cheering them on.

Judge Bradford is survived by his five children and six grandchildren: son Tim and wife Donna of Lake Worth, Florida (Michelle and Casey); daughter Kate and husband Ken Kaufman of Potomac, Maryland; daughter Betty Ann and husband Jim Listowich of Kingfield, Maine (Ben and Emily); daughter Bethany Bradford, DVM, of St Croix, US Virgin Islands; and son Michael and wife Angela of Yarmouth, Maine (Olivia and Sam).

The family is deeply grateful to the staff at Bay Square Assisted Living Community in Yarmouth for their attentive, professional, and loving care, and to Compassus Hospice and Friends in Home Care for their additional support during his final days.

In lieu of flowers; please consider a donation in his name to a charity of your choosing.

Due to the extenuating circumstances of these times, there will be a celebration of life at a future date. Please visit to sign Judge Bradford’s online guest book.


Carl O. Bradford

have a memory or condolence to add?

Andrea Lee

March 29, 2021

Always liked and respected Justice Bradford. Even though I worked in the District Court whenever we passed each other inside or outside of the building he always said hello, a real gentleman, honest and fair justice, and handsome too. R.I.P. Bless you and your family.

Gordon Corbett

May 13, 2020

Dear Bethany and Michael,
My condolences to you on the loss of your dad. A man I very much respected. Bethany, I remember the day during the time you were taking sailing lessons from me that Carl was looking for a small sailboat for you. We were riding along in the car when he began telling some funny stories of his early days as a lawyer. The one that sticks in my mind was when he had client who a legal problem but no money. He paid his bill by giving your dad his dog. I don't recall what kind of dog or how long he had it, but the man paid his debt. I do remember how much joy and humor that story gave him in the telling. I obviously enjoyed it as well for I still remember it and the Judge, himself.

Marie McCann

April 10, 2020

It is with saddness that I learned of Carl's recent death. He was a personal friend and helped me professionally when my husband died at an early age.

He and Mary Ellen remained good friends . I attended several of his trumpet performances and marched to" When the Saints Go Marching in" with Matry Ellen leading the parade.
I always looked forward to his paintd postcards at Christmastime.

God has a special place for Carl along side Claire and Maryellen.
My sympathy and prayers for the family.

Elizabeth Carriuolo

April 7, 2020

For many years, I would schedule visits for my parents and brain damaged brother from Massachusetts so that we could attend one of Carl's concerts with the Port City Jazz band. My parents loved hearing all of the big band music from their youth. For many years we also made it a point to attend the pre-Lenten concert the group played. Carl and the other men in the band were always very kind to my brother, who loves live music. My parents have both passed on, but my brother, husband and I have a lot of wonderful memories of evenings listening to Carl sing and perform with his band with them. He was a very kind man.

Judge Steve Smith

April 6, 2020

I first met Carl in the late 1990's through our shared association in both the American Bar Association and National Judicial College. We both served as state trial judges in our respective states (Texas, for me). He was kind enough to share his knowledge and experience with me. We also shared a love for music. My undergraduate degree is in Music Education, and I enjoyed our conversations about music, even though I was more of a "classical" and "band" guy than a jazz aficionado. Fortunately for me, I was able to hear his band in person. He lived a great life of service, and I'm blessed to have known him.

Peter D.

April 5, 2020

Mike, sorry to hear about your father. My condolences to you and your family.

Jan Gilbert

April 3, 2020

Justice Bradford and I shared a camaraderie different than others. We spoke French to each other each time we met in the hallways of the Portland courthouse. I possess one of his many silkscreen Christmas cards, which meant allot to me. We had a working friendship which I enjoyed. He was a kind and gentle man. He will be missed. God bless him in his journey to the other side, and god bless his family.

Bud Ellis

April 3, 2020

I met Justice Bradford when I was an intern in the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office in 1985-86. I have now spent 33 years practicing criminal law but did my first jury trial in front of him in 1986. We have been friendly acquaintances and colleagues since that time. He was not only a mentor to young attorneys, he was a top notch judge and one of the nicest people I ever met during my time practicing law. I spent twenty-one years working in the Cumberland County Courthouse and every time we saw each other we had a pleasant conversation. He truly cared about you- the person- not just the lawyer. It was an honor to know him and work with him for three plus decades. My sympathies to his family.

Patti & Brian Bicknell

April 3, 2020

So many memories from over the years. We send condolences to everyone but especially Bethany and Michael & Angela, with special hugs to Olivia and Sam.

Andrea Lee

April 3, 2020

Being a District Court Clerk at Portland District Court, I never had the pleasure of working with Justice Bradford, but whenever our paths crossed inside or outside the court house he always said hello to me. I never forgot that. Such a wonderful man, so respected by all. R.I.P. My sincere condolences to his family, your dad was awesome, talented and have to add handsome.