October 12, 2020
It is with heavy, yet gracious, hearts that we announce the passing of MML&K Government Solutions’ Founding Partner, W. Terry McBrayer. With a warrior’s spirit and deep appreciation for life, family and friends, Terry completed his five-year battle with cancer early Sunday morning.
In the last 24 hours, many sources have recounted his accomplishments, accolades and impact on both local and national politics and business. But to our team, Terry was the inspiration for the daily practice of the principals of hard work and preparation on which he built this firm. To us, quite simply, he was a father, leader, mentor, friend and part of our family.
Terry remained an active part of our team even in his final days, offering the invaluable perspective, wisdom and strategic advice that has long guided our friends through good times and bad. We hope each of you knows how highly he treasured his relationship with you and wanted the best for you.
Our greatest tribute to him is to carry on the standards by which he lived in our personal and professional lives.
When available, we will provide further information on visitation and virtual service arrangements.
Sean, Chris, Chuck, Brandy, Sara, Jason, Jimmy, Lora, Edwin, and Marie
W. Terry McBrayer, influential Lexington lawyer, lobbyist and politician, dies at 83
The Lexington Herald-Leader
W. Terry McBrayer, senior partner and lead lobbyist for the influential McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland law firm in Lexington who held numerous Democratic leadership positions in state government and ran unsuccessfully for Kentucky governor in 1979, has died. He was 83.
Milward Funeral Directors said McBrayer died at 1:32 a.m. Sunday in Lexington. He had been battling cancer for five years.
Tributes to McBrayer immediately flowed upon news of his death.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said in an email, ”I was saddened to hear of the passing of Lexington attorney and former Kentucky Rep. Terry McBrayer. He was a champion for the people, and his service in Kentucky and nationally made a lasting impact. Britainy and I lift his family in prayer.”
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville, called McBrayer “a force of nature in Kentucky politics” for more than 50 years.
“When Terry set his mind on a goal, he refused to be outworked. That’s how a lawyer from Greenup built a national reputation and a lasting legacy,” McConnell said.
“Terry was not only a great campaigner, but also a skilled policymaker. His time in Frankfort saw major initiatives for our Commonwealth’s future. Terry’s contributions can be seen across Kentucky, especially at his cherished alma mater, Morehead State University.
“We may have come from different sides of politics, but we shared a deep love of our Commonwealth and a determination to help it succeed. Terry was always ready to extend kindness, even to political rivals.”
Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Ben Self said in a statement, “Terry was a pillar of our community and a leader throughout our commonwealth. Terry served others in many ways throughout his life —as a state representative, as chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party and a Democratic National Committee member for many years.
“Personally, I always appreciated his feedback and guidance. We need more people who live their life like Terry McBrayer did. We will miss him and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
A native of Greenup County and graduate of Morehead State University and Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, McBrayer served in the state House from Greenup County from 1966 to 1976.
In the legislature, he was House speaker pro tem and House majority leader. In the 1979 race for governor, he finished third in the Democratic primary to John Y. Brown Jr., the winner in that fall’s general election.
Brown said Sunday that McBrayer “has been one of my best friends in the last decade. He’s a special guy and has more friends than anyone I’ve ever known. I respected and loved him so much.”
In the 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns, McBrayer represented Bill Clinton in Kentucky. In 1995, he became chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party and was a committeeman for the Democratic National Committee.
Former Democratic Party Chair Jerry Lundergan of Lexington said he called President Clinton Sunday to tell him about McBrayer’s death.
“He loved Terry deeply,” said Lundergan, who called McBrayer “a friend who cared about the people of Kentucky. He influenced many people.”
McBrayer also served in numerous other roles, including commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Commerce, chairman of the Kentucky Board of Tax Appaeals, member of the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees, chairman of Kentucky Educational Television, chairman of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce and longtime member of the Kentucky Council on Higher Education.
Louisville political consultant and former state Democratic Party Chair Danny Briscoe has known McBrayer for 60 years.
“He was a really good guy with a magnificent personality who helped a lot of people.”
Lobbyist Bob Babbage of Lexington said McBrayer was “a legendary figure who influenced many people. He had the style, intellect and warm personality to succeed in whatever he tackled.”
Babbage said McBrayer was instrumental in helping political candidates and officeholders. “He should be in the Mentors Hall of Fame for politicians.
“He had that wonderful gift of understanding people and problems.”
On his law firm’s website, McBrayer said, “The world is full of good lawyers. However, not every good lawyer is good at resolving the problem. I am a problem solver and have created one of the most well-known and esteemed firms in the Commonwealth, comprising some of Kentucky’s best problem solvers.”
McBrayer started the firm in February 1963 in his hometown of Greenup in a single room above a grocery store.. It has grown to be the eighth largest firm in the state with about 60 attorneys in offices in Lexington and Louisville and a government affairs practice called MML&K Government Solutions in Frankfort near the state Capitol.
In 1989, McBrayer was a founding fellow of the State Capitol Group, a global network of more than 145 of the profession’s preeminent independent law firms. It included law firms in every state and several U.S. cities as well as 92 foreign jurisdictions. It had more than 11,500 attorneys in more than 300 cities around the globe.
“I am honored to work alongside great lawyers who work hard every day and are active in their churches, communities and families,” said McBrayer.
His law firm issued a release Sunday, saying “It is with incredibly heavy hearts that we announce the loss of the founder of our firm.”
“A true fighter to the very end, Terry McBrayer was a statesman, a lawyer, a lobbyist, a mentor, a Kentucky icon, a proud brother, father and grandfather, and a dear friend to all who have known him. His is a loss from which we are not soon to recover,” it said.
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the state “lost a substantial figure in both the legal and political communities with the passing of Terry McBrayer.
“Terry, through our many professional interactions, taught me the importance of maintaining the difficult balance that is law, life, and politics. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family as they navigate this difficult time.”
Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, said, “It is with incredible sadness that I extend my condolences to Terry McBrayer’s family on his death.
“For more than half a century, Terry played an integral role in Kentucky politics. His wisdom and insight were incomparable and led many to seek his counsel. Of course, his success can ultimately be attributed to his innate understanding of the value of relationships and the nuances of the political process,
‘”While Terry was unabashed in his political ideology, it never prevented him from forging friendships. He will be missed.”
Former Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson said on Facebook, “I am so thankful for the blessing of knowing this man and his family. He was loved by so many. We will all miss his contagious laugh and friendly personality.”
State Sen. Robin Webb, D-Greenup, called McBrayer “a brilliant legal and political mind. He sure made northeast Kentucky look good.”
McBrayer is survived by his children, Sarah McBrayer Savarie and John Lawton McBrayer, his sister, Judy McBrayer Campbell, and his five grandchildren, Alex McBrayer, Mina McBrayer, Odin McBrayer, Beatrice Savarie, and Lucy Savarie.
Sarah McBrayer Savarie said in a Facebook post that her father was “the kindest, most generous person I know. He loved his family, friends, his firm, the Wildcats and fishing — not necessarily always in that order.”
Former University of Kentucky basketball coach Joe B. Hall called McBrayer “little brother.”
“I always wanted a little brother that I could pick on because my brother rode me but he also was good to me, and my best friend. And Terry was every bit of that.”
Hall said McBrayer was his lawyer who “helped me with everything I ever did to make money. He was my best fishing buddy. We’d go — just the two of us — anywhere in the world and fish, and always have a great time.
“And he was my best hunting buddy. He was my best duck shooting buddy. He was a people person. That was his success. He made friends with people the first time he met them.”