Searcy Bracewell, 85, co-founded law firm
Searcy Bracewell, a founder of the Houston law firm Bracewell & Patterson and a former state representative and senator from Houston, died Tuesday at his home. He was 85.
Bracewell was having lunch and playing cards with friends when he died. The cause of death has not yet been determined.
A member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1947 to 1949 and the Texas Senate from 1949 to 1959, Bracewell wrote bills establishing what later became the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the University of Texas Science Center Dental School. He later ran an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate in a special election in 1957.
In 1945, he, his father, J.S. Bracewell, his brother, Fentress Bracewell, and the future state District Judge Burt H. Tunks formed the law firm of Bracewell & Tunks. Harry W. Patterson joined the firm in 1951.
By 1966, the firm had 18 lawyers and had adopted its current name of Bracewell & Patterson.
The firm is the fifth-largest in Houston and one of the largest in the state.
After World War II, Searcy Bracewell expanded the operation of the Broadway Plan, a company founded by his father to help churches pay for building programs.
Bracewell and his wife, Elizabeth, were active in numerous cultural and civic organizations. He was president and board chairman of the Houston Grand Opera, interim president of the South Texas College of Law and a member of the executive committee of the Lyric Theater Foundation during construction of the Wortham Theater.
Bracewell, a native of Houston, graduated from Milby High School and from Texas A&M University in 1938. He attended Houston Law School and passed the bar in 1940.
Bracewell also served as president of the A&M Research Foundation and as board chairman of the Visitors of Texas A&M University at Galveston. He was named Outstanding Houston Aggie in 1978.
Bracewell attended graduation ceremonies at the A&M Galveston campus last week and presented the Board of Visitors Award to a graduating senior.
He leaves his wife of 63 years, Elizabeth Weaver Bracewell of Houston; a son, Joe Bracewell of Washington, D.C.; a daughter, Betsy Machac of Roans Prairie; and his brother, Fentress Bracewell of Houston.
The graveside service for Bracewell will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery, 6900 Lawndale. A memorial service is set for 1 p.m. Friday at the Worship Center of Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway
SEARCY BRACEWELL was born in Houston (Harrisburg) on January 19, 1918. He was the son of J.S. Bracewell (1892-1965) and Lola Blount Bracewell (1896-1985), both of Grimes County, Texas. He graduated from Milby High School and lived in Houston all his life. He died at the age of 85 on Tuesday, May 13, 2003, at his home while enjoying lunch and a game of cards with his friends. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Elizabeth Weaver Bracewell, his brother Fentress Bracewell, his son Joe Bracewell (wife Peggy) of Washington, D.C., and daughter Betsy Machac (husband David Machac) of Roans Prairie, Texas, his niece Lyn Bracewell Phillips (husband Chief Justice Tom Phillips), nephew Brad Bracewell (wife Kathy), his grandchildren Eric Machac (wife Staci), Clare Bracewell, Melissa Machac Burleson (husband Rick), Stephanie Machac, Patrick Bracewell, Charles Bracewell, and Jacob Machac, his great-grandchildren Crystal Machac and Courtney Machac, great nieces and nephews, Thomas Kirkham, Bradley Bracewell, Laynie Bracewell, Mollie Bracewell, Daniel Phillips and Edward Bracewell, numerous cousins, and countless friends. Searcy Bracewell graduated from Texas A&M in 1938. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets, the Ross Volunteers, and drum major of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band. A lifelong supporter of Texas A&M, he served as Chairman of the Chancellor's Century Council, President of the Texas A&M Research Foundation, Chairman of the Board of Visitors of Texas A&M University at Galveston, and Chairman of the Sul Ross Group of the Texas A&M Former Students Association. He was also a member of the Texas A&M President's Council, the Board of the Former Students Association, and the Advisory Committee of the Texas A&M University Development Foundation. He was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M and named "Outstanding Houston Aggie" in 1978. Last year, he received the Texas Aggie Lawyer of the Year Award from the Texas A&M Bar Association and also was inducted into the prestigious Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor. Four days before his death, he donned a cap and gown for the graduation ceremonies at Texas A&M's Galveston Campus, where he presented the Board of Visitors Award to a graduating senior. Searcy Bracewell attended Houston Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1940. In 1945, along with his father and brother, he founded the law firm now known as Bracewell & Patterson. Headquartered in Houston, the firm now has over 350 lawyers with offices in eleven cities in three countries. He was a member of the Houston and Texas Bar Associations, as well as the District of Columbia Bar. He was a charter member of the Texas Bar Fellows, a member of the Houston Bar Foundation, and chairman of the Texas Utility Lawyers Association. He retired from active law practice in 1988, but was a frequent participant in firm meetings and functions. The week before his death, he attended an orientation luncheon for Bracewell & Patterson's 2003 summer associates. As a former Texas A&M Cadet, Searcy Bracewell was called to active duty as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1941. After an initial assignment as a cavalry officer at Fort Clark, he shipped out to England in 1943 to join the forces gathering for the invasion of Europe. He was assigned to a position as Assistant G-4 on the staff of Gen. George Patton's Third Army, where he served until the end of the war. He was awarded the European Theater Medal with five battle stars and was honorably discharged as a major in 1945. Searcy Bracewell served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1947 to 1949 and in the Texas Senate from 1949 to 1959. He was selected "Outstanding Young Man in Houston" in 1952. Among his many accomplishments in the Texas Legislature, he authored bills establishing the institutions that have since become The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and The University of Texas Health Science Center Dental School, and providing for the education of mentally retarded children. He served as President Pro-Tem of the Texas Senate and then retired from public office after an unsuccessful race for the United States Senate in 1957. He continued to be active in politics and government affairs, serving on the Houston City Charter Commission and as Chairman of the Texas Water Development Board. He was a founding member of the Friday Club and frequently presented a Flexibility Award to politicians who demonstrated "the ability to rise above principle to meet the exigencies of the situation." After World War II, in addition to practicing law, Searcy Bracewell worked with his father to expand the work of the Broadway Plan, a company founded by J.S. Bracewell to assist churches in financing their building programs. From 1936 to 1979, the Broadway Plan was used by more than 3,802 churches in 47 states and two foreign countries. His interest in the world of business led him to serve for five years as a managing director of Shearson Lehman Brothers, and as a Board member of Union National Bank, West University Bank, Houston Industries, and Houston Lighting & Power Company. Along with his wife Elizabeth, Searcy Bracewell was active in numerous organizations and civic endeavors. He served as President and Chairman of the Board of the Houston Grand Opera, Chairman of the Board of The Shoulder, a Board member and interim President of the South Texas College of Law, a Trustee of the Houston Foundation, a Board member of the Houston Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Lyric Theater Foundation during construction of the Wortham Theater. A lifelong member of Kiwanis, he served as President of the Kiwanis Club of Eastern Houston, Lt. Governor of the Texas-Oklahoma District, and a Trustee of the Kiwanis Foundation. He actively supported Elizabeth in her leadership roles in the Houston Junior Forum and the Harris County Heritage Society. Along with his brother Fentress, Searcy Bracewell received the 1977 Humanitarian Award from the American Cancer Research Foundation. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law in 1973 from the South Texas College of Law, and received the 1996 Leon Jaworski Award for public service from the Houston Bar Association Auxiliary. Searcy Bracewell was a member of Second Baptist Church and the Worthwhile Class. He served as Chairman of the Building Committee for the construction of the Worship Center from 1983 to 1986. The family will receive friends at Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 15, 2003. Interment will take place at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery at 10:00 a.m., followed by a memorial service in the Worship Center of Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway, at 1:00 p.m. Friday, May 16, 2003, with Dr. H. Edwin Young and Dr. James DeLoach officiating. Pallbearers will be his grandchildren. Honorary pallbearers are the partners at Bracewell & Patterson, L.L.P. In lieu of flowers, those desiring to do so may make contributions to The Music Fund of Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway, Houston, Texas 77057.
Published in the Houston Chronicle on 5/15/2003.
Searcy Bracewell, Founding Partner of Bracewell & Patterson, Dies 5/15/03
HOUSTON (May 15, 2003) – Searcy Bracewell, a founding partner of Bracewell & Patterson L.L.P. and former Texas Legislator, passed away May 13, 2003. He was 85 (Jan. 19, 1918).
Funeral arrangements for Friday, May 16, 2003, are as follows: Interment will take place at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery, 6900 Lawndale Ave., at 10 a.m., and it will be followed by a memorial service in the Worship Center of Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway, at 1 p.m.
Among his numerous professional accomplishments, in 1945 he founded Bracewell & Patterson with his brother, Fentress Bracewell and father, the late J. S. Bracewell. Since then, the firm has prospered to be one of Texas' largest law firms, employing more than 350 attorneys internationally. The firm maintains 11 offices in Texas; Virginia; Washington, D.C.; London and Kazakhstan.
"Searcy Bracewell was not only a founder of our firm, he was an embodiment of its soul," said Patrick Oxford, managing partner at Bracewell & Patterson. "Every partner in the firm learned from Searcy, directly or indirectly, the true meaning of service."
Although having retired from the practice of law in 1988, Bracewell still maintained an office and enthusiastically attended special firm functions. His on-site appearances were received with much celebrity by attorneys and staff.
Also revered for his significant political and community achievements, Bracewell served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1947 to 1949 and in the Texas Senate from 1949 to 1959. During his tenure in the Senate, he authored the bill establishing the institutions that have since become The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and The University of Texas Health Science Center Dental School. He was also involved with the legislative enactment needed for bonds to build the Houston Astrodome. In 1949, he also sponsored a bill that issued a yearly pension to the only surviving widow of a soldier of the Texas Revolution.
Bracewell was admitted to the Texas State Bar in 1940 after studying at the Houston School of Law. Classes were held in a courthouse building and his father's law office. He received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University in 1938. During his college years, he was a member of Corps of Cadets, the Ross Volunteers and a clarinet player and drum major of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band.
From 1941-45 he served in the U.S. Army, with two and a half years spent overseas during World War II. He served in World War II as a member of Gen. George Patton's staff in charge of supplies and evacuation.
After World War II, in addition to practicing law, Searcy Bracewell worked with his father to expand the work of the Broadway Plan, a company founded by J. S. Bracewell to assist churches in financing their building programs. From 1936 to 1979, the Broadway Plan was used by more than 3,802 churches in 47 states and two foreign countries.
His interest in business led Bracewell to serve for five years as a managing director of Shearson Lehman Brothers, and as a board member of Union National Bank, West University Bank, Houston Industries and Houston Lighting & Power Company.
Among Bracewell's civic service was board service with the Houston Grand Opera; The Shoulder, Kiwanis Foundation; Houston Chamber of Commerce; South Texas College of Law; Lyric Theater Foundation, which facilitated construction of the Wortham Theater; Houston Foundation and Texas A&M University.
Honors Bracewell received included the 1977 Humanitarian Award from the American Cancer Research Foundation, an honorary Doctor of Law in 1973 from the South Texas College of Law, and the 1996 Leon Jaworski Award for public service from the Houston Bar Association Auxiliary.
Bracewell is survived by Elizabeth Bracewell, his wife of 63 years, a son, Joe, and daughter, Betsy Machac, and their spouses; seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother, Fentress Bracewell.