Excerpts from a short story on Mr. Branch
by Mr. Will Bangs
In 1956, Mr. Will Bangs was hired to work for Mr. Branch at the Choate, Hall and Stewart Law firm in Boston, Massachusetts. For the next five years, he handled for Mr. Branch litigation from the Providence Washington Insurance Company, a medium size casualty insurance company. Mr. Branch was 70 years old when Mr. Bangs started with him.
In his short story on Mr. Branch, Mr. Bangs is not only specific, but most telling.
Mr. Bangs says of his casework that he delivered, he worked "everything on the case right up to the trial or settlement." Indeed, Mr. Branch was a demanding man to work for. This said, he speaks of the "such ease" Mr. Branch displayed when handling his cases.
He also speaks of "Mr. Branch's energy...he loved to play tennis and he did play tennis up until at least his mid 80's."
Bang's also recounts how Mr. Branch had shaken the hand of more than half of all of the Supreme Court Justices
of the United States Supreme Court since the court was founded in 1789.
Mr. Bang's said of Mr. Branch, " He was really quite a modest person. He was a brilliant person." He had a, "unique ability to express himself in clear, concise and simple language in briefs and in oral arguments."
Mr. Branch spoke of his wife Hope, once a Broadway Actress with the famed Walter Hampden Company, as a "very beautiful, talented women."
Mr. Bangs says Mr. Branch was a "very charming and witty person." In example, Bangs says, "shortly after the great hurricane of 1938 (there must have been 15 partners in the firm at that time), I learned that John L. Hall called every partner after the hurricane to make sure they were all right, but, apparently, the hardest partner to reach was Claude Branch because the telephone lines to Providence were down the longest. John L. Hall finally reached Claude Branch and said "how are you and your family." Branch's reply was "well the trees are all down but the Branches are fine."
"Very charming and very distinguished looking, he was a tough litigator and a very tough negotiator....very precise."
Bangs says, "A very demanding person to work for, he had a streak of kindness." When Elizabeth O'Keefe, his stenographer of many years, fell on hard times financially, Mr. Branch would "pay her way up from Providence so she could earn a little extra money."
Circa 1929 - Mr. Branch as newly appointed Special Assistant to the Attorney General. Taken at his desk in the Department of Justice, Washington D.C.
Claude Raymond Branch was a prominent Providence and Boston Attorney, and Businessman. Son of John B. Branch (1851-1933), and Fannie Mowry Branch (1851-1918). He received his early education in Providence public schools and at the Sedgwick School in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
He graduated from Brown University in 1907; attended Harvard Law School graduating cum laude in 1911. Editor of the Harvard Law Review and awarded the Sears Prize for the highest scholastic standing.
He served as Assistant Attorney General of Rhode Island in 1915-1916. From 1916 until 1929 a partner in the Providence law office of Edwards & Angell.
In August, 1929, Mr. Branch was appointed Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States and assisted Charles Evans Hughes, Jr., the Solocitor General, in the presentation and argument of more than fifty cases before the U. S. Supreme Court.
Upon leaving the Attorney General's office in 1932, he became a partner in the prestigious Boston law firm of Choate, Hall and Stewart; remaining for forty-five years until his retirement.
He was President of the Providence and Worcester Railroad, Chairman of the Board of the Providence and Washington Insurance Company, and Trustee of the People's Bank of Rhode Island.
Mr. Branch was a President of the Rhode Island Historical Society, a member of the Hope Club, The Providence Athenaeum, the Squantum Association, the Jacob's Hill Hunt Club of Seekonk, Massachusetts, and a member and President of the Agawam Hunt Club in Rumford, Rhode Island.
He was a member of the Rhode Island and Massachusetts Bar Associations, retiring in 1977 at the age of ninety-one.
April 19, 1932 - Investigating the New York Stock Market. Senate Banking and Currency Committee, Senator Peter Nordeck, Chairman. Pictured are William G. Grey (Philadelphia), David Stock (Philadelphia) and Claude Branch (Providence).
Lithograph of Brown University, Circa 1825
from the collection of Hope S. Branch