In Memoriam | October 2016

Gibson Gayle, Jr., JD ’50

Gibson Gayle, Jr., beloved husband and father, renowned attorney and civic leader passed away September 16, 2016. Born October 15, 1926, and reared in Waco, Texas, Gibson attended Waco High School and was valedictorian of the January 1943 graduating class. After a brief time as a student at the University of Texas at Austin he entered military service during World War II. Upon completing a six-year joint degree program, he graduated from Baylor Law School in May of 1950 and made the highest grade ever scored at that time on the Texas State Bar Exam. Gibson was hired by the law firm of Fulbright, Crooker, Freeman and Bates and began his employment as the firm's 43rd lawyer there on the 26th of June 1950.

A partner in the Houston office since 1961, Gibson went on to serve as the firm's managing partner and chairman of the firm's executive committee. During his tenure, Gibson spearheaded what, at the time, was the largest and most successful U.S. law firm merger in history. The firm he helped build became known as Fulbright & Jaworski and is now Norton Rose Fulbright, one of the largest law firms in the world with more than 3,800 lawyers.

With a legal career spanning more than 60 years, his professional achievements and leadership roles include: Secretary of the American Bar Association; Life Member of the ABA's House of Delegates; Chair of the ABA's Young Lawyers Division; President of the Texas Young Lawyers Association; President and Director of the American Bar Endowment; Member of the ABA Journal's Board of Editors; Life Fellow and Board Member of the American Bar Foundation; Council Member of the International Bar Association; Director, President and Vice President of the State Bar of Texas; Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Texas Bar Foundation; and Inductee into the Texas Legal Legend Hall of Fame by the State Bar of Texas.

Committed to serving others, he was active with numerous organizations, including the M.D. Anderson Foundation, Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (formerly the MHMRA of Harris County), Texas Medical Center, Greater Houston Partnership, and Houston Chamber of Commerce.

Gibson's contributions of time and talent were noted by the Republic of Germany, which awarded him the Order of Merit in honor of his work with the M.D. Anderson Foundation, and the Republic of France, which named him a Knight of the Legion of Honor for his work at the University of Texas in international law. He also received the Houston Bar Association Auxiliary's Leon Jaworski Award, Baylor University's Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Outstanding Young Lawyer in Texas Award, the Baylor Lawyer of the Year Award, the Anti-Defamation League's Jurisprudence Award, the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine's Humanitarian Award, the Huntington's Disease Society of America's Lifetime Humanitarian Award, and the Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association's Outstanding Contribution to Education Award.

Surviving Gibson are his wife of 68 years, Martha; children, Sally Smith (Lanny), Alice Gayle, Gibson Gayle, III, Jane Frey (Erik), and Philip Gayle; grandchildren, Sarah Maxwell (Stacy), Amanda Hydock (Michael), Jonathan Lee (Carly), Laura Lee, Mallory Bates (Jon), Catherine Gerhart, Connor Gerhart, and Stephen Frey; great grandchildren, Cooper Hydock, Everly Hydock, Theodore Maxwell, David Lee, and Sloan Lee.

Gibson's life example of integrity, generosity, devotion to family, friends, career, and community inspired all who knew and loved him and transcended generations.