Robert M. Haverfield was born in Ohio in 1918 and moved with his family to Florida when he was five years old. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Miami and continued his education there, receiving his LL.B in 1947. He married Shirley O’Conner in 1948, and the couple had three daughters, Elizabeth, Carol and Jill. One of his passions was piloting, and in the 1950s, he and a friend flew a small, single-engine private plane from Florida to Europe.
Judge Haverfield’s legal career prior to taking the bench covered a broad spectrum of public and private sector employment. In 1949, he was appointed by the Dade County Bar Association to serve as a full-time legal aid attorney, establishing the county’s first full-time Legal Aid Society. Three years later, he joined the Law Department of the City of Miami, where he worked his way up through the ranks to the position of chief assistant city attorney.
In 1956, Judge Haverfield joined the law firm of former Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz. Just two years later, he became a named partner in the firm of Aronovitz, Aronovitz & Haverfield. In 1958, he became one of the first commissioners elected to the Dade County Commission under the new county charter. He served as Commission Chair for two terms.
In 1964, he was elected to the Florida Senate, where he served for eight years. During his term in the Senate, he was instrumental in establishing Florida International University. He also was the primary force behind the creation of Dade County’s outstanding parks and recreation system.
Judge Haverfield was appointed to the Third District by Governor Reubin Askew in April 1972. Later that year, he was elected for a six-year term on the Court and was retained for another six-year term in 1978. Judge Haverfield was elected chief judge in January 1978. He was reelected chief judge in 1980, and held that position at the Court until his death on September 8, 1980.