The son of John C. and Elizabeth Arnold Bruton, John Bruton was born in Troy, North Carolina. He was educated in Columbia public schools and attended the University of the South, receiving a B.S. in 1929 and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received an LL.B. in 1932. While at the University of Pennsylvania, he was a member of the Order of the Coif and Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review.
He practiced in New York City with the firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, where he helped to develop a system for determining utility rates. He also worked with Wendell L. Wilkie and others in formulating the industry’s position under the Public Utility Company Holding Act.
In 1948, crippled from an operation for an old football injury, he returned to Columbia and, with great courage, resumed his law practice; first with his wife, Mary Winn Bruton, and for the last 20 years of his life, as a partner of Boyd, Bruton, Knowlton and Tate. He specialized in estate planning and taxation, writing for the Commerce Clearing House and the South Carolina Law Review on occasion.
Cheerful and optimistic in adversity, a firm friend, legal scholar, imaginative and thorough, a fine lawyer.