Justice James E. Alderman
The conflicts between family obligations and public duty were no better exemplified than in the life of Justice James E. Alderman, the 67th Justice of the Court. Alderman grew up amid family traditions older than the State of Florida itself, and these traditions centered on the raising of cattle. Few remember today that one of the earliest "cowboy" states was Florida, in which the cattle industry commenced long before statehood.
The Alderman family, for example, was engaged in the cattle business by 1830, and they have continued the family tradition to this very day well over 160 years later. In early childhood, James Alderman grew up on a family ranch of 9,000 acres, and his earliest passions were roping and wrestling calves. This was only fitting for a youngster who was a sixth-generation Floridian -- and a sixth-generation cowboy.
By the time Alderman was enrolled in Fort Pierce High School, he faced a difficult choice: either staying on his beloved family ranch, or taking "time off" to go to college at the University of Florida. He opted for the latter, which took him away from the ranch for the seven years necessary to get undergraduate and law degrees.
The quandary Alderman felt as a teen was to be repeated some seven years after he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1978. In 1985, Justice Alderman's father suffered an incapacitating heart attack, and the judge was the only person in his family who could then run the enormous cattle ranch. But the ranch was a full-time job. With great reluctance, Alderman left behind his black robes and dusted off his cowboy shirt and boots. As of early 1995, Justice Alderman still could be seen nearly every day, riding his horse around the ranch that holds more than 160 years of fond family memories.
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