Paul P. Brountas ’54, P’91, H’97 (1932-2017)
January 3, 2018 by Office of the President
To the Bowdoin community,
Earlier today we learned the sad news that Trustee Emeritus Paul Brountas ’54, H’97 passed away last Tuesday, December 26, 2017, at his home in Weston, Massachusetts. The Bowdoin community owes much to Paul for his extraordinary leadership and the breadth and depth of his contributions to the College, public service, and the practice of law over the course of his remarkable life.
Paul Peter Brountas was born in Bangor, Maine, on March 19, 1932, into the close-knit family of Peter N. and Penelope Spiropoulos Brountas. He grew up working with his five older siblings in the family’s restaurant on Main Street. After graduating from Bangor High School, Paul established an impressive record at Bowdoin—as president of the Student Council, president of the Student Judiciary Council, editor of The Bugle yearbook, president of the Debating Club, student commander of ROTC, president of Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity, winner of the Achorn, Fairbanks, and Bradbury prizes for public speaking, and recipient of the Goodwin Commencement Prize for an essay on “Self-Incrimination and the Fifth Amendment,” (delivered at the height of the McCarthy hearings in Congress). He graduated summa cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 1954. Paul declined the offer of a Fulbright Scholarship to become one of the first twelve Marshall Scholars, earning AB and AM degrees from the Honour School of Jurisprudence at Oxford University in England.
He served as a first lieutenant in the US Army in France from 1956 to 1958, and was awarded a commendation ribbon for meritorious service. Upon completion of his military service he entered Harvard Law School as a second-year student, where he earned LLB and JD degrees in 1960. Paul joined the Boston law firm of Hale & Dorr, inspired in part by the firm’s partner Joseph Welch, who represented the US Army in the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954 (and who uttered the memorable response to Senator McCarthy: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”).
Paul rose quickly through the ranks at Hale & Dorr, making junior partner in four years and senior partner in another four. He is widely credited with the growth of the firm through his early involvement in meeting the corporate-law needs of high-technology companies and start-ups in the computer, electronics, and genetic-research industries. His wise counsel and business acumen helped in the establishment and growth of hundreds of companies over his forty-year career. He was listed as one of the top-ten technology lawyers in the US, and his name was included in the National Law Journal’s list of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in the US.” He retired in 2005. WilmerHale, the successor to Hale & Dorr, established the Brountas Award for Extraordinary Service in recognition of his outstanding career.
Paul served the common good as a member and chair of the Planning Board for the town of Weston, Massachusetts; member and chair of the Marshall Scholarship Selection Committee; chair of the Metropolitan Boston Citizens’ Coalition for Cleaner Air; director of the Massachusetts Centers of Excellence Corporation; and a board member of the Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Museum of Science, and the Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Paul delivered the baccalaureate address at Bowdoin in 1997, when Bowdoin awarded him the honorary degree of doctor of laws; his presentation was titled “What Can I Do?”—a testament to the selflessness and compassion of this son of Greek immigrant parents.
While he was in law school at Harvard, Paul became good friends with Michael Dukakis and Paul Sarbanes. Dukakis had wanted to be a governor, and Sarbanes had wanted to be a US senator. As Paul would later say, “I had hoped to go back to Maine after law school and run for congress, and then run for governor, and ultimately try for the senate. That was my goal. Instead I came to Hale & Dorr in 1960…Mike became governor and Paul became a senator [Maryland]. I was the only one who failed.” Paul was treasurer for the Dukakis gubernatorial campaign for 1974 and chair of the 1978 and 1982 campaigns. He took time off from his law practice to serve as national chair of the Committee to Elect Michael S. Dukakis President in 1988.
In Bowdoin affairs, Paul was a member of the Alumni Council for ten years. He was a member of the Pierce Commission that recommended that Bowdoin become a coeducational institution (what he would later call his most important work for the College). He was elected to the board of overseers in 1974 (president from 1980-1983) and to the board of trustees in 1984 (chair from 1993-1996; emeritus 1996). Paul drew on his leadership experience to usher in a unicameral system of governance for Bowdoin. He also worked to make sure that social organizations at Bowdoin were open to men and women and established the groundwork for the review of the College’s residential life policies. At so many critical junctures, Paul’s counsel, his willingness to listen, and his ability to see clearly the challenges that faced the College have shaped the Bowdoin College that we know today.
Paul is survived by his wife, Lynn Thurston Brountas, whom he married on September 7, 1963; his son, Paul P. Brountas Jr; his daughters, Jennifer Brountas and Barrett Brountas ’91; two grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to:The Paul and Lynn Brountas Scholarship Fund
4100 College Station
Brunswick, ME 04011-8432
We hold Paul’s family in our hearts and thoughts, and we join with them and with Paul’s many colleagues and friends in celebrating his life and spirit.