In Memoriam | March 2017

William H. "Bill" Yowell, JD '51

William H. "Bill" Yowell drove into Killeen in late May 1951. All the assets he had were his experience in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M, his stint in the U.S. Army, a law degree from Baylor University, a new wife, a new car with a $2,000 note and a lot of enthusiasm. Since then, he has usually been involved in every community effort to make something good and positive happen in Killeen and Central Texas.

Bill was born March 13, 1928 in Waco, Texas, and raised in the rural community of Elk, Texas, just east of Bellmead. He attended a two-room schoolhouse in Elk until high school. Bill graduated from LaVega High School in Bellmead in 1945. Yowell attended two of Texas' flagship institutions- in this case, Texas A&M University (1945/46) and Baylor University. Bill left Texas A&M for military service and served in the U.S. Army from 1946-48. He then returned home and graduated from Baylor Law School with a juris doctor degree in 1951.

Bill married lifelong neighbor and classmate Jonnie Lou Smajstrla on May 6, 1951. He is survived by his wife Jonnie Lou, daughters Debbie Yowell Farley & husband Bill of Killeen and Sherrie Yowell Anderson of Austin, grandson Matthew Yowell & wife Sarah of Killeen, and great-granddaughters Addison & Aubree Yowell. Yowell was preceded in death by his father, Walter Harper Yowell, mother Annie Lucille Moore Yowell, brother Orville Patrick "Pat" Yowell, and infant brother, Alton Yowell.

As a young Killeen businessman, Bill was immediately drafted into community service that included city councilman (1956-58), Commander of VFW Post 9192, founding president of Central Texas Homebuilders Association (1961), president of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce (1973), and as the president of the Killeen Riding and Roping Club, he was instrumental in building the present Killeen Rodeo Arena. He also served as member and treasurer of the Board of Regents of the University of Central Texas. He served on the Central Texas University Task Force, the group which was instrumental in attracting a state university to the area, and served as president of the Killeen/Fort Hood Area Former Student Association of Texas A&M University.

A lifetime member of the State Bar of Texas, he served as a director and as chairman of the legislative committee of the Lumberman's Association of Texas. While Yowell never officially practiced law, his experience in legal matters was often sought out and highly valued.

Bill was one of the Bell County civic leaders who worked to gain county approval to build the Expo Center. He served as president of the Bell County Exposition Center board of directors (1994-2005) and the boardroom at the Expo Center was dedicated to Bill upon his retirement from the board in 2006. Just last week, Bill participated in the groundbreaking for the new Equestrian Facility. He was president of the Bell County Water Control and Improvement District #1 (1975-2006) and a director of both the Central Texas Housing Finance Committee and the Bell County Housing Finance Committee.

Bill operated Gross-Yowell Lumber Co., the family building materials business, in Killeen from 1951 to 1979, at which time the business was acquired by Walker-Kurth Lumber Co. of Houston, a subsidiary of Santa Fe Industries. He continued to operate the Killeen location and served as Vice-President, Texas Division, of Walker-Kurth Lumber Co. from 1979 to 1986. Since 1986, he has been involved in banking, real estate and ranching. Yowell's first involvement in banking was serving as a director of the First National Bank of Killeen and Citizens National Bank. He acquired the Heights State Bank in 1991 and served as chairman of the board of directors until its sale in 2003.

Bill has spent a lifetime in ranching, specifically concentrating on purebred Polled Herefords since 1968. He has raised registered Polled Hereford cattle on Yowell Ranch, south of Killeen , since 1972 . In his role as rancher, he served as president of the Texas Polled Hereford Association, a director of the National Cattleman's Association and was elected chairman of the board of the American Polled Hereford Association (1986-1990). He received the Man of the Year in Agriculture award presented by the Texas Extension Agents Association in 1991 and the Excellence in Grazing Management award from the Texas Section of the Society for Range Management in 1992. Although he dispersed his herd in 2006, Bill continued to be a friend to Polled Herefords and a familiar face at shows and sales.

Bill was one of the original founding families at St. Joseph Catholic Church, serving as President of the parish council for many years. He was also chairman of the Fund Raising committee in 1959 which built the present church and chairman of the Planning Committee which made major renovations to the church in 1984-88. In 2009, he was awarded the Lumen Gentium service award by the Catholic Diocese of Austin. Most recently, Bill was a major benefactor for St. Joseph's new parish activity center.

The Yowell family has made other major contributions to our community, including the conference room at the Boys Club Trimmier Road and an exam room at the Greater Killeen Free Clinic. Bill also funded a birthing room at the Metroplex Women's Clinic, as well as serving as honorary co-chair of the fundraising committee of that project. He was honored with the Roy J. Smith Award in 1998, recognizing his leadership efforts, and the Exchange Club's Golden Deeds award in 2011.

Widely known as "Mr. Bill," he is noted for his sense of humor and his talent at negotiation. He practiced win-win before it was popular. His leadership abilities and advice are widely respected and solicited. A friend and encourager to everyone who knows him, Bill is someone who is just as proud of a friend's accomplishments as his own. If success is measured by whether you left the world a little better than you found it, then Bill Yowell is most certainly a successful man who has contributed time, talent, and treasure to the success of our community. Family would like to extend a special thanks to special care givers Cinderella McCombs & The Care Age Home Care.

Billy Gordon Alexander, JD '62

Billy Gordon Alexander, of Odessa, Texas, was chosen by the Lord to leave this earth on January 18, 2017. He was born in Vivian, Louisiana on March 20, 1934 to Annie and Joel H. Alexander.

After graduation from Levelland High School he entered the Army and served until 1955. After being honorably discharged from the Army, he worked for AMOCO and attended South Plains Junior College in the evening and became the first graduate of South Plains Junior College in 1959. He also attended Texas Tech University and graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Laws degree and his juris doctor degree. While attending Baylor he was a member of The Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, a member of Baylor School of Law Board of Governors, President of the Student Bar Association, President of the Mid-Law Class and President of the Nose Brotherhood. He was licensed to practice law by the US and District Courts of Texas, the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit and the Texas Supreme Court.

After graduating from law school, he came to Odessa and went to work for the well-known Warren Burnett and began his long and fruitful legal career helping others and doing what he loved. After five years he opened his own law firm where he continued to practice for 52 years. Bill was a lawyer, but more importantly, had a wonderful mind and a huge heart, both of which he used to assist people in their legal matters and to fight for the rights of others.

Bill's life was not just about the practice of law, but spending time and teaching others about all that he knew. He had many interests and hobbies and always took great pride in learning the "latest and greatest" of EVERYTHING! He was happiest when he was surrounded by his family. You could always count on Bill for his many words of wisdom and advice.

He is preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Luana Alexander, a son, Joel Alexander and his wife Angie of Round Rock, Texas, a daughter, Michele Alexander Snell of Garfield, Texas, a daughter, Kobi Cook and her husband Damon of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a daughter, Kindra Poage and her husband, Jack of Austin, Texas, 4 grandchildren and 1 great-granddaughter, one sister JoAnn Atchison and her husband Jerry of Levelland, Texas.

The family would like to express a very special thank you to Dr. Raja Naidu, his Nurse Practitioner, Tiffany Vaught, his nurse Vanessa Dick, and Dr. Raj Patel and his staff in Midland, Texas. They would also like to thank the nurses and nurses' aides who attended to him on the fourth floor of ORMCH, the staff of the Wound Care Center at ORMCH , the caring and loving Compass Hospice nurses and staff, and all of the wonderful and caring people at The Courtyards Assisted Living, who took care of Bill and assisted the family during the last few weeks of his life.

Keith Eugene Farr, JD '68

Keith Eugene Farr of Waco passed away Saturday, February 4, 2017. Everyone knew Gene Farr. Local attorney and graduate of Baylor Law School, he was widely known and respected within the community. Gene lived on a ranch outside Waco where he spent most his time fishing, farming, and hunting with his children. He is preceded in death by his mother, Hallie Marie Farr, and father, Elmer Keith Farr. Gene is survived by his brother, David Herman Farr; his son, Joseph Keith Farr; and daughter, Aimee Elizabeth Farr.

Hon. James Allen Blackstock, JD '73

Hon. James Allen Blackstock, JD '73, was unexpectedly called home by his Lord on January 17, 2017. He was preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Dr. Cecilia Blackstock, of Clute, Texas; and his infant daughter, Rebecca Blackstock. James is survived by his wife of more than 46 years, Patricia; sons, Geoffrey and his wife, Candace, Will and his wife Lindsey, and John. Additionally, James is survived by his grandsons, Austin Blackstock, Westleigh Blackstock, Samuel Zarate, and granddaughters Sofia Zarate and Addison Blackstock.

Born in Monroe, Louisiana, in 1947 the Blackstock's would ultimately settle in Freeport in the early 1950s. Following his 1965 graduation from Brazosport High School, James attended Baylor University, where he worked for four years as a student athletic trainer, graduating with a Degree in English and History in 1969. After graduation from Baylor, James enlisted with the United States Marine Corps, and was selected for Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia.

After his discharge from the Marine Corps, he briefly taught English at Brazosport High School. James would later earn a law degree from Baylor Law School in 1974. After passing his Texas Bar Exam, James went to work for attorney Ralph Gilbert in Angleton, Texas, followed by several years as an Assistant District Attorney and felony prosecutor with the Brazoria County District Attorney's Office, eventually establishing his own private practice as a partner in the firm of Williams, Mingarelli, and Blackstock. In 1986 Angleton attorney James Blackstock became Judge James Blackstock following his election to the newly created Brazoria County Court at Law #3, where he served Brazoria County until his retirement from the bench in 2008.

Public service was a lifelong point of pride for James, as was evidenced by his involvement with numerous organizations throughout his life. A desire to serve and help others was a central pillar of belief for James, often saying simply "If you can help, you should." During his life he served as a Reserve Patrolman for the Angleton Police Department, was a founder of the Angleton Area Emergency Medical Corps, a lifetime member of the Brazoria County Fair Association, a national officer for the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors, a board member with the Angleton Little League, and numerous other local, state, and national organizations, as well as being an eager judge for many BBQ cook-offs.

James, along with Patricia, joined the First Baptist Church of Angleton in 1975, and was an involved and active member until his passing. With First Baptist Angleton, James served on numerous church committees, worked with the TV Ministry, and frequently led a Sunday School class that affectionately referred to themselves as "The Kitchen Class". His Christian faith was a source of strength and pride for James.

Second only to his Christian faith, was James's pride for his family. He could talk at length about the accomplishments of his father Harry during World War II, including the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and about his mother Cecilia, who served as an Education Advisor to President Carter. He was also quick to brag on his three sons, despite their collective attempts to drive him certifiably crazy throughout the years, and could be counted on to share their latest successes with anyone who would stand still long enough to listen. James was the most excited about his grandchildren, whether it was an upcoming trip to Alabama to watch Austin in a baseball or football game, playing in the backyard pool or watching Westleigh in Upwards basketball games, dance recitals and Angleton Christian School productions with Sofia, t-ball games and Angleton Christian School productions with Sam, and sneaking snacks to Addison while reading to her and showing her how to make different faces. James, who was known by his grandchildren as "Pops", built his days and weeks around their activities, and rarely missed any. His single greatest love however was for Patricia, who he said was the center of his universe, and cut from an uncommon cloth. For more than 46 years they enjoyed travelling together, eating and cooking new foods, occasionally contentious games of Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, or 42 dominoes, and the sharing of good books. It was of Patricia that he bragged most of all.

"To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." — Ralph Waldo Emerson