Former Bar President Alan Bookman passes away
Dedicated to the cause of justice, a respected leader, and “one of the good guys,” Alan B. Bookman, the 57th president of The Florida Bar, died December 24 in Pensacola. He was 74.
As part of a project to document the history of The Florida Bar, Bookman said he wanted to be remembered “as a good lawyer who practiced with civility and professionalism and one who ably represented his clients.” He served as president of the Bar in 2005-2006.
Calling his term as Bar president “the best year of my professional life,” Bookman spent his year as steward of the Bar on the road meeting with lawyers and legal groups big and small, stretching from his hometown of Pensacola to Key West.
“Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve found good, hardworking, ethical, and professional lawyers who strive to represent their clients to the best of their ability day-in and day-out,” Bookman said then as he was wrapping up his year as president. “They love this honorable profession we share, and they love their communities. I have never been more proud of who we are and what we do.”
Bookman was born on November 28, 1947, in New Orleans. He graduated from Tulane University in 1969, earning his Bachelor of Science, and continued to Tulane University School of Law in 1971, earning his Juris Doctorate.
After graduating, Bookman followed his father’s footsteps and joined the U.S. Army, beginning his law career with the Judge Advocate General Corp., where he served in a variety of legal capacities, including senior defense counsel and chief of military justice. His father, Melvin I. Bookman, was a World War II veteran who saw action in Patton’s Third Army, retiring as a one star general.
Bookman’s professional home was Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon in Pensacola. He joined the firm in 1975 as its 10th lawyer and spent the duration of his legal career there. He was one of the firm’s senior attorneys practicing in the areas of real estate law, probate, guardianship and trust litigation, and commercial litigation.
Bookman devoted his life to the practice of law and leaves behind a 44-year legacy through his service to The Florida Bar, Florida Supreme Court, American Bar Association, The Florida Bar Foundation, Escambia Santa Rosa Bar Association, Northwest Legal Services, Inc., Escambia County Legal Aid Society, Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance, and Judicial Qualifications Commission.
“What never ceases to amaze me is the size of the collective heart of lawyers,” Bookman once said, citing the profession’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “In short, lawyers opened up their hearts, their wallets, their offices, and their homes, without reservation, in response to that unimaginable tragedy. Again, we come to the aid of our fellow man and woman, not only protecting rights and pursuing justice, but doing humanitarian work.”
Bookman served his community through many civic and philanthropic capacities, including Bnai Israel Synagogue, Temple Beth El, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida, Gulf Coast Kids House, and many others.
Bookman is survived by his wife of 18 years, Connie Curran Reeves Bookman, the founder and CEO at Pathways for Change and president this year of The Florida Bar Foundation; his children Jyl Jackson, Richard Jackson, Alison Bookman Skidmore, Don Skidmore, James J. “J.J.” Reeves II, Lindsay Reeves, Darcy Curran “D.C.” Reeves, and his five granddaughters, Sarah, Lauren, Leighton, Abbie, and Caroline.
A memorial service for Bookman is scheduled for Monday, December 27, at 11 am at Temple Beth-El 800 North Palafox in Pensacola. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Pathways for Change or The Florida Bar Foundation.