Baylor Law Grad Knighted, Honored By French Government

April 13, 2004
News Photo 1885Gibson Gayle, Jr.

by Alan Hunt

Gibson Gayle Jr., a graduate of Waco High School and Baylor Law School, has been awarded France's highest honor, the Legion d'Honneur, an award traditionally given for outstanding service to France, regardless of the nationality of the recipient.

During a ceremony in France, the Waco native was made a Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion d'Honneur. Established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, the award is regarded as one of Europe's most prestigious civic recognitions.

A former managing partner of the Houston law firm Fulbright & Jaworski and president of M.D. Anderson Foundation, Gayle was honored by the French Government for his exemplary efforts to support and develop the Institute of Transnational Law at the University of Texas Law School and its website that provides legal scholars worldwide with access to France's leading court decisions in translated text.

Gayle, who was instrumental in raising funds for the Institute's web-based resource, said the website has received more than 160,000 "hits" in the last eight months alone and the average "hit" or visit is over two hours in length. He said members of the French legal profession "are really abuzz about this website. They are excited." He was nominated for the award by Professor Basil Markesinis, founder of the Institute of Global Law at University College London, and a leading authority on international and comparative law.

Gayle received the award in Paris recently from Madame Noelle Lenoir, France's Minister for European Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Gayle's wife, Martha, (a Waco High School graduate and former Baylor Homecoming Queen) and four of their five children were among the audience. Also receiving the Legion d'Honneur during the program was Lord Robert MacLennan, a British Liberal Democrat politician and the party's spokesman on Europe in the House of Lords.

"Lord MacLennan gave his acceptance speech in French," Gayle said. "I gave mine in Texan. It was quite an honor for a simple Texas country lawyer like me."

Gayle graduated first in his Baylor Law School class in 1950 and recorded the highest grade ever made on the State Bar Exam as of 1950. He received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Baylor University in 1980, and the Baylor Lawyer of the Year Award in 1975. The main reading room in the library at Baylor's Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center is named in honor of Gayle and his colleague, Uriel E. Dutton, who is a 1951 Baylor law graduate.

Active in numerous professional and Houston civic organizations, Gayle previously served as president of the State Bar of Texas; the Texas Young Lawyers Association; the American Bar Endowment; as chairman of the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association; and as chairman of the Texas Bar Foundation. He is a former chairman and a trustee of the Baylor College of Medicine; a trustee of the Leon Jaworski Foundation; a director of the Texas Medical Center, Inc., the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and the Houston Chamber of Commerce.

More information about the Institute of Transnational Law at the University of Texas can be found here: http://www.utexas.edu/law/academics/centers/transnational/

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