JAMES K. NANCE


JAMES K. NANCE, of Houston, passed away on Sunday, the 22nd of November 2009, at the age of 93.He was a retired senior partner in the Baker & Botts law firm. Mr. Nance was born in De Leon, Texas in 1916. In 1934 he graduated from Fort Worth Central High School as Valedictorian and won 3 scholarships from Rice University (then known as Rice Institute), so he attended Rice for academic and sports purposes. In 1938 he graduated from Rice with summa cum laude honors and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, the first Rice football player to ever achieve that honor. He was described by one Houston sports writer as "the smartest football player in the history of Rice". Active in campus organizations and events, Jim acted in dramatic theater presentations and, as a senior, was crowned King of the May Fete, a very high honor in those days. Mr. Nance played on Rice's 1937 Southwest Conference Champion football team, which beat then Number 1 Colorado in the 1938 Cotton Bowl. He was also selected to many All-Southwest Conference Teams. He bragged quite often that (i) "Rice beat UT all four of his college-playing years & (ii) Rice (with Jim as defensive end) stopped and beat Wizard White, Colorado's All-American running back who went on the become a US Supreme Court Justice before whom Jim argued cases, in the 1938 Cotton Bowl." Not surprisingly, in the 1960's, Jim was chosen, along with Wizard White, as one of only 25 American athletes to receive Sports Illustrated 25 Year Anniversary Awards for the Most Accomplished Athletes of the 1900's. Mr. Nance was also selected to the U. S. College All Stars (as starting tight end) to play Sammy Baugh's Washington Redskins, the 1938 Pro Champs. The All-Stars won 13-7, and "stunned the world", the NY Times stated on the front page the next day. As a senior in 1938, he received Rice's top scholastic/athletic honor, the Bob Quinn Award. Upon graduation from Rice, Mr. Nance attended the University of Texas Law School in Austin, where he met the first love of his life (for 29 years), Kathryn Spence, a University of Texas Sweetheart and co-Phi Beta Kappa. They married and produced 3 sons, Jimmy, Billy and Ralph. Kathryn died accidentally in 1969; thereafter Jim married Lucille Hester bates of Houston, a trial lawyer's widow, and inherited his first daughter Barbara and another son David. In 1941 he graduated from the University of Texas Law School with highest honors and was a member of the Phi Delta Phi Honor Society and Order of the Coif. In 1941 Mr. Nance joined Baker & Botts and practiced law for 41 years except for four years of World War II, during which he served as Lieutenant in the United States Navy aboard the Destroyer Escort USS Whitehurst (DE634), which participated in the invasions of the Marshall Islands, New Guinea, the Philippine Islands, and Okinawa. After returning from the war, he became a trial lawyer with Baker Botts and also represented many of its clients before the Texas Legislature from 1947-1981. Perhaps Jim's most important legacy was his ability to persuade both conservative and liberal congressmen to make a more business-friendly state, to the extent that Texas has now become the foremost economic leader of our nation of states. Jim never forgot his beloved alma mater, so from 1962 and for many years thereafter, he was active in Rice University's affairs. He served on the Committee on Outdoor Sports and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Rice Alumni Association, Owl Club, and "R" Association. He was a life member of the Rice Associates. In 1986, Mr. Nance received the Distinguished R-Man Award from the "R" Association in recognition of his Rice activities and participation in civic and community affairs. He served on the governmental affairs committees of the Houston Chamber of Commerce, Texas Association of Business, and Texas Association of Taxpayers. Mr. Nance served as a member of the Board of Stewards of St. Luke's Methodist Church and as an Elder of St. Philip Presbyterian Church. He was also a member of Houston Country Club. At the time of his death, he was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Houston.  He was preceded in death by his first wife of 29 years, Kathryn Spence Nance, and his second wife of 39 years, Lucile Hester Nance, along with numerous siblings and immediate family members. He is survived by his 3 children and their spouses: James K. Nance, Jr. and wife June, William S. Nance and wife Edith, Ralph D. Nance and wife Karen; his step-children: Barbara Bates Press and husband Tom, David Q. Bates, Jr. and wife Anne; his brother Gaylord Nance; nephews Jan and Alan Nance and niece Mary Lou Nance; his grandchildren and their spouses: Kathryn and Adam Roark, Ashley and Mike Sarraille, Kelley and Ryan Summers, Will and Dayna Nance, Justin Nance, Nathan Nance, Aaron Nance and Abigail and Danny McReynolds; his step-grandchildren: Alex and Bobby Stillwell, Quentin Bates, Hunter Bates and Morgan Bates, and his great-grandchildren: Ted Roark, Camryn Sarraille, Ryan Summers, and Michael Sarraille, in addition to many other relatives scattered across the country. A special "thanks" to the personnel of The Hallmark and Jim's special caretakers (Emma Sosa, Gloria Moreno and Fermin Espinosa) for the kind, tender-loving, professional care provided to Jim during his last days on Earth. Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o'clock in the afternoon until seven o'clock in the evening on Friday, the 27th of November, in the Drawing Room of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.  All are invited to join the family for a graveside service, where the U.S. Navy is to render military honors, at ten o'clock in the morning on Saturday, the 28th of November, at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery, 6900 Lawndale Avenue in Houston. As per the family's expressed wishes, those desiring to attend the interment are requested to telephone Mr. Nance's sons; either Billy, at 713.256.8881, or Jimmy, at 713.677.3500.The Memorial service is to be conducted at twelve o'clock noon on Saturday, the 28th of November, in the Sanctuary of Chapelwood United Methodist Church, 11140 Greenbay in Houston, where Rev. Wick Stuckey, Director of Men's Ministries, will officiate. Serving as casket bearers during the services are his six grandsons, as mentioned above, and Navy Seal Lt. Mike Sarraille, his grandson-in-law. Honorary pallbearers are all current and past partners of Baker Botts, L.P. Immediately following the service, all are invited to join the family for a reception in the adjacent Fellowship Hall. In lieu of usual remembrances, contributions in memory of Mr. Nance may be directed to Rice University General Annual Fund, Department of Development, MS 81, P. O. Box 1892, Houston, TX, 77251-1892; or to the Charles and Carolyn Spence, James and Kathryn (Spence) Nance, and William (Spence) and Edith Nance Endowment Honoring Michael Monsoor, Medal of Honor Recipient and benefiting military veterans, c/o The University of Texas Development Office, P. O. Box 7458, Austin, TX, 78713. -->
Published in Houston Chronicle from November 23 to November 26, 2009 Print

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