Baylor Law Professor Emeritus Erwin Elias Dies

Nov. 21, 2002
News Photo 859Ervin Elias

by Alan Hunt

Baylor Law Professor Emeritus Erwin A. Elias, 69, passed away on Nov. 20, 2002, after a long battle with cancer. Professor Elias was born in Milwaukee, Wisc., in 1933, the son of German immigrants. He earned his bachelor of science and juris doctor degrees from Marquette University and an LL.M. degree from the University of Michigan School of Law.

Described by Law Dean Brad Toben as a "wise, thoughtful and devoted teacher," Professor Elias taught at Baylor Law School from 1957 until he retired in 1994. Dean Toben said, "Erv was a role model for his students and taught with a wisdom that led his students to want to succeed because of the respect that they had for him and his own commitment to excellence and integrity. He was noted widely as a lawyer and professor who commanded a remarkable expertise across a wide array of teaching and practice areas. He was a generalist with the knowledge and insight of a specialist in innumerable areas of the law. Erv was very proud that he always worked to positively motivate his students and that he never knowingly subjected any student to humiliation, either in public or in private."

Professor Elias spent two years, from 1968 to 1970, as a professor at Texas Tech Law School, but he then returned to Baylor Law School, serving as the associate dean from 1970 to 1975. Elias was named to the George M. Kelly Professorship of Law in 1975.

His colleagues and the Baylor Law Alumni Association honored Professor Elias at the new Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center by dedicating a display of the United States and Texas flags in front of the facility in honor of Professor Elias and in appreciation for his distinguished career.

Professor Elias authored a number of publications, including works on Texas Municipal Corporations and Texas Consumer Law. He was active in numerous legal, civic, church and charitable organizations and endeavors. He was particularly proud of his 16-year tenure as a member and the chairman of the Texas Motor Vehicle Commission, which during his service dealt with the then-new "Lemon Law" and many auto dealership issues. Elias was appointed and re-appointed to the Commission by Governors Dolph Briscoe, Bill Clements and Mark White.

Professor Elias is survived by his wife of 46 years, Patricia; daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Tom Davis; grandchildren, Jenny Davis, Jackie Davis, and Tommy Davis; brother and sister-in-law Ernest and Violet Elias of Milwaukee, Wisc.; and nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held 10 a.m. Saturday at Christ the King Catholic Church, Dallas.

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