William L. Bransford, general counsel of the Senior Executives Association (SEA), died Friday, the organization and his law firm, Shaw Bransford & Roth, announced. He was 66.

In addition to working with the association since 2000, Bransford was a partner in his firm since 1983.

“Bill was a giant, whom I was honored to work with for nearly 30 years,” said John Berry, U.S. ambassador to Australia and former director of the Office of Personnel Management. “He was a true gentleman who never once lost his temper, even while passionately defending the federal employee community. He was always careful and knew of the importance of details, of which he was the master. If Bill said it, you could take it to the bank. I cannot imagine how we will ever fill this hole as there simply is nobody as skilled in this complicated field as Bill.”

Bransford was a federal employment lawyer with expertise in issues involving senior executives.

“Bill’s contribution to SEA’s legislative achievements has been exceptional, and his wise counsel invaluable,” said SEA President Carol Bonosaro. “He was deeply committed to fairness and respect for federal employees in general and career executives in particular. All career executives owe him a debt of gratitude.

“Until the end, he dedicated his time, passion and expertise to SEA’s cause. He firmly believed in the value of the career leadership corps to a strong, effective government. He was an SEA champion and friend.”

Debra Roth, his law firm partner, said Bransford’s “legacy is that he practiced law like a gentleman. He perfected the art of zealousness for his clients, while practicing with the utmost civility and respect for the process. He was a great mentor to every attorney and employee who walked through the door and he left his mark on every one of them.”

While his SEA focus was on the highest ranking federal civil servants, colleagues noted his dedication to helping lower paid federal employees most in need. He was a strong supporter of the Federal Employee Educational and Assistance Fund (FEEA), which provides financial aid to workers who can’t make ends meet.

“Bransford had been involved with FEEA since its inception in 1986 and remained one of its strongest supporters for 27 years,” said a statement from the organization. “His advocacy on behalf of federal employees will be missed throughout the government community.”

A viewing is set for 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at De Vol Funeral Home, 2222 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. A Mass of christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 3513 N Street N.W.