John Hanson Briscoe, 79

January 1, 2014

John BriscoeJohn Hanson Briscoe, former Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates and St. Mary’s County Circuit Court Judge, 79, of Hollywood, MD, died peacefully January 1, 2014 at his home attended by his family. He was born April 10, 1934, in Leonardtown, Maryland to the late John H. T. Briscoe and Hilda Maddox Briscoe.

He attended St. Mary’s Academy, Mount St. Mary’s College where he was a pitcher for the baseball team, and both the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore Schools of Law and was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1960.

In 1962, he was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates and served as Chairman of several committees, including the Natural Resources Committee, Environmental Matters Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee before being elected by the General Assembly as its Speaker from 1973 – 1979.

Upon his return to St. Mary’s County, he continued in the private practice of law with James A. Kenney, III, and Marvin S. Kaminetz until his appointment to Circuit Court Judge in 1986. He retired from the judiciary in 2002 to enjoy his time with family and friends.

As President of Historic Sotterley Foundation, he was dedicated to Sotterley’s establishment as a National Historic Landmark and its preservation as a vital public museum and educational site. He also served as President of the Historic St. Mary’s City Commission and as President of the St. Mary’s County Historical Society. As a long time member of the Lexington Park Rotary Club, he served as announcer of the oyster shucking contest at the Oyster Festival for several decades. As a legislator, he was instrumental in the passage of state civil rights laws, the expansion of Point Lookout State Park and the creation of Greenwell State Park and the College of Southern Maryland. He took pride in his environmental efforts and accomplishments spanning across the State of Maryland. He spent several years raising cattle and tending to his family farm in Hollywood and was an avid fisherman and hunter.

He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Bonnie Sue Briscoe, and his children, Lisa Jane Briscoe (Peter) of Timonium, MD; Janice Briscoe Baldwin (Sam) of Hollywood, MD; John Hanson Briscoe, Jr. (Diane) of Hollywood, MD; Dana Elizabeth Briscoe of Hollywood, MD; and Adam Lyle Briscoe (Sidney) of Providence Village, TX; nine grandchildren, Emily, Sam and Philip Baldwin, Jenna Briscoe, Jaime and Katrin Burke, James D. Russell (J.D.), and Quin and Soyer Briscoe, and one great-grandchild, Zoey Russell. His former wife, Sylvia, died on July 17, 2009. He is also survived by his sister, Adriana (MeMe) Gillaspy, his sisters, Hilda Briscoe and Maria “Lou” Gardiner having predeceased him.

Family will receive friends for John’s Life Celebration on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., with prayers at 7:00 p.m., at St. John’s Regis Catholic Church, 43950 St. John’s Road, Hollywood, MD 20636. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Rev. Raymond Schmidt on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. Interment will follow at St. Aloysius Cemetery in Leonardtown, MD.

Memorial contributions may be made in John Hanson’s name to Historic Sotterley, Inc. , P.O. Box 67, Hollywood, MD or online at

Condolences to the family may be made at

Arrangements by the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A., Leonardtown, MD.