Pioneers generally don’t travel down smoothly paved roads, but when the road bears a name, it suggests a path once strewn with obstacles, hurdles and detours.
Today, Judge Fran Jamieson Way is flanked by a school board and a government center, gently spilling westward into high-end communities. Golf carts yield to pedestrians, Sandhill Cranes mosey along, and dogs are walked, smiling as they squint into the sun and the wind blows back their ears.
It is perhaps the crown jewel of streets in a planned community, in a world somewhat taken for granted by the fact that many know nothing of its namesake. Cancer claimed her in 1995, but it could not claim her legacy.
“I’m a great
believer in turning
while they’re still
young instead of
later on. We need
to build more
homes now than
to build bigger
— Judge Fran
Who was Judge Fran Jamieson? What did she do to deserve having a street named after her? Today, little is spoken of her beyond a litany of firsts that highlight a considerable resume.
At the Moore Justice Center, the kind and highly competent clerks of the court and the caretakers of the law library can speak of her in general terms and do so proudly. They can share the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel articles that provide facts for this story, most dating back more than 30 years. Yet as of this writing, they cannot point in the direction of anyone who might have met her, known her and have anecdotes to share that take this story from a worthwhile resuscitation to a living and breathing memory so richly deserved for a woman who embodied courage, was a setter of standards and an advocate for the voiceless.
In 1950s Tennessee, Fran Jamieson became a widowed mother of two, a situation which tested her mettle and shaped the empathetic portion of her persona.
The 1958 University of Tennessee graduate occasionally had to take her children with her to school during times she couldn’t find a babysitter. She took these hardships and resolve with her, moving the family to Cocoa Beach and opening her law practice in 1958.
Much of her early years involved presiding over divorce cases which gleaned a perspective on how children were impacted. This served her well during her judicial years in juvenile court where she was able to draw correlations between fractured home situations and delinquency.
In a Florida Today tribute to her 12 years as a judge, (July 13, 1990), Jamieson said, “We’ve got a deterioration in families, and we need to address these problems expeditiously. Certainly, you see in juvenile court how much a child suffers in a dysfunctional family.”
Judge Jamieson was tough on kids. Her gavel often struck with a strict resonance, but was accompanied by a lecture to address any situation. A progressive thinker, her advocacy for children included being a proponent of vocational training and more non-traditional educational settings for students who might not find success in a standard environment. Her belief system found her being named by the Children’s Home Society as Florida’s Child Advocate of the Year for 1988.
“I’m a great believer in turning children around while they’re still young instead of correcting things later on. We need to build more homes now than to build bigger jails later.” (Florida Today, May 28, 1995)
Jamieson set the bar high during her career. She was the first woman to practice law in Brevard, the first woman to serve as president of the Brevard County Bar Association, the first woman elected judge in the state, and the first woman to serve on the Florida Board of Governors. (Florida Today, May 28, 1995)
On any given day on Judge Fran Jamieson Way, a stray golf ball might find its way across the street and come to a halt in the meticulously maintained landscape that characterizes Viera. It is a community that is the product of great vision, detailed planning and impeccable standards. The street would seem to be appropriately named.
Viera Voice is looking for anyone who might have known Judge Fran Jamieson and has a story to share. Please contact R. Norman Moody at email@example.com.