Stephen D. Susman and Dean T. Gerald Treece
Last week, we lost two giants of the Houston Bar, Stephen D. Susman and Dean T. Gerald Treece. They lived long, impactful lives that improved the wellbeing of those around them. Let us reflect on a few of their accomplishments:
Mr. Susman attended Yale University (1962), then the University of Texas School of Law (1965), where he was Editor in Chief of the Texas Law Review and graduated first in his class. He clerked for the Hon. Hugo Black of the Supreme Court of the United States, and then joined Fulbright & Jaworski, becoming one of its first Jewish partners. In 1980, he founded Susman Godfrey LLP, which remains to this day one of the premier litigation boutiques in the United States. He tried and won many cases, including some of the largest cases in U. S. history. He was passionate about the importance of jury trials, serving as Executive Director of the Civil Jury Project. He was generous, making many substantial donations to the University of Texas, Yale, and other organizations that he cared about. He was also a loving father and husband, with two wonderful children, Stacy and Harry, and two strong marriages to the late Karen Susman and Ellen Spencer Susman.
Dean Treece attended the University of Houston, where he obtained his undergraduate and law degrees. He received a Bronze Star while serving in Vietnam. He joined the faculty of South Texas College of Law in 1977. There, he thrived for four decades as teacher and coach, leading the South Texas College of Law moot court and mock trial competition teams to 133 national championships, more than any other program in the country. He also was a legal analyst for KHOU Channel 11 for three decades. Dean Treece mentored and molded as many outstanding, future young lawyers as any educator of his generation.
With many distractions today, lawyers need to keep their eyes on the ball, focusing on issues of importance to their communities and country. Don’t “live in the land of Oz,” wasting your “time on an unworthy cause” (Bob Dylan, “Key West”). Work to build up those around you, as well as old and new institutions. Address real problems of today and tomorrow. Bring people together, don’t break them apart. For the work ahead, you could find no better role models than the lives of Mr. Susman and Dean Treece.
Godspeed, gentlemen, on your next journeys.
President, Houston Bar Association