Baylor Law School Announces $2.2 Million in Major Gifts From East Texas Lawyers

June 11, 1999

by Alan Hunt

Legendary Henderson attorney Rex Houston, who made his name representing the working men and women of East Texas in landmark cases involving workers' compensation, personal injury, and product liability claims, will be honored Monday by his alma mater, Baylor Law School.

Houston will be the guest of honor at a noon luncheon at the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center, along with his partners of the Henderson law firm he helped to establish, Wellborn, Houston, Adkison, Mann, Sadler & Hill, L.L.P. A 1950 Baylor law graduate, Houston was the first of Baylor's 5,500 law alumni to make a gift in the "anchor gift" phase of the Law School's current $35 million Building & Endowment Campaign. Houston has made a gift of $1.2 million to the campaign.

A $1 million gift also has been given in Houston's honor by his partners in the Henderson law firm. They include name partners Ron Adkison, J. Mark Mann, Paul L. Sadler and David Hill, along with J. Mitchell Beard, Russell C. Brown and James Holmes. All are Baylor law grads with the exception of Brown, who graduated from South Texas College of Law, and Holmes, who is a Southern Methodist University law graduate.

The combined $2.2 million gift will underwrite the practice courtroom in Baylor's planned new Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center. The classroom, home to Baylor's much-acclaimed Practice Court program, will be known as the "Rex Houston Practice Courtroom" in Houston's honor.

The expected completion date of the new $28 million law center is Fall, 2001, providing Baylor with one of the nation's finest law school facilities. The 121,000-square-foot building, which will be located adjacent to Fort Fisher on the banks of the Brazos River, will include classrooms, courtrooms, the law library, computer labs, seminar and meeting rooms, faculty and administrative offices, and common areas.

Brad Toben, Dean of Baylor Law School, said it is fitting that the practice courtroom should bear the name of one of Baylor's "most distinguished alumni and one of Texas' finest and most renowned courtroom lawyers." He said Houston is noted for giving of his time, energy and resources to help maintain scholarships and to further the education of students at Baylor Law School, as well as in his surrounding community. Toben pointed out, "It was Rex Houston who was the very first Baylor lawyer to step up to the plate and make a major gift when we were planning our campaign."

Houston was honored in 1992 as Baylor Lawyer of the Year, an award which is given annually to an outstanding alumnus who has brought honor and distinction to Baylor Law School and the legal profession. He also was inducted as a Fellow of the prestigious International Academy of Trial Lawyers in 1974, becoming the member from the smallest town from among the organization's worldwide membership.

After graduating from Baylor, Houston began practicing law in Henderson with his longtime colleague, the late Gordon Wellborn. The pair, operating from a small office above a drug store in Henderson's city square, made their name as tough and innovative trial lawyers in a number of high profile cases, including the nation's first class-action lawsuit involving asbestos workers.

Today, Houston consults as senior partner in the firm, which maintains its prestigious reputation as a leader in the personal injury and product liability fields.

Waco Mayor Michael Morrison will proclaim Monday as "Rex Houston Day" in Waco during Monday's luncheon program, which is being hosted by Baylor President Robert B. Sloan, Jr. and Toben.

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