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Please make all checks payable to: The University of Texas Law School Foundation.
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The Judge Harold R. DeMoss, Jr. Endowed Scholarship in Law for Constitutional Excellence
Harold Raymond DeMoss, Jr. “Hal” or “Judge,” passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Wednesday, the 29th of April 2020 in Houston, at the age of 89. He was a much beloved husband, son, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle, a treasured friend, a gentlemen, and a patriot, and will be greatly missed by all who had the great good fortune and joy of knowing him.
Hal was born on the 30th of December 1930, in Houston to Harold Raymond DeMoss and Jessy May Cox DeMoss. He attended Poe Elementary and Lanier Junior High, before his family moved to Dallas in 1942. He graduated from Highland Park High School in 1948 where he was the president of the student council his senior year, editor of “The Bagpipe” student newspaper, co-captain of the Scots varsity basketball team, and member of the Quill & Scroll international journalism society. He attended Rice University where he was a member of the Rally Club, played on the freshman and varsity basketball teams during the 1949 and 1950 seasons before an eye injury ended his playing career, served on the student council, and was student body president his senior year. While at Rice, Hal earned the Cameron Service Award that was given to students who rendered distinguished service to the student body. He graduated in 1952 with a BA in Pre-Law. He then attended the University of Texas Law School in Austin where he pledged the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and remained an active Delta supporter throughout his life. On the 12th of March 1954, he met his future wife, Judy Phelps, on a blind date at a social with the Chi Omega Sorority. He graduated from U.T. Law in 1955 with an LL.B. law degree.
One year to the day after they met, Hal and Judy were married in San Antonio at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and honeymooned in Houston. They then moved to Washington, D.C. where Hal was stationed at the Pentagon with the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps. After Hal’s discharge, they moved to Houston where he joined the Bracewell & Patterson law firm, Judy managed the household affairs, they joyfully raised their two children, and in 1958, they joined St. Martin’s Episcopal Church where they both served on the Vestry at various times under the direction of Rector Tom Bagby. In the early 1960’s, they both became Republicans and spent spirited years supporting George H.W. Bush. In 1988, Hal, and Judy together took a six-month sabbatical from Hal’s obligations at the Bracewell law firm to work on the George H. W. Bush Presidential campaign in Washington, DC.
Hal’s second career began in 1991 with his appointment to U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Bush. This provided Hal and Judy the fortunate opportunity to spend a week each month in New Orleans, enjoying the culinary delights of the city and spending quality time getting to know the fellow judges, spouses and law clerk staff, resulting in many precious memories over their 23 years of service to the courts.
For over 30 years, their favorite getaway was their Jamaica Beach bay house on Galveston Island, where they entertained family and friends with opportunities to fish, water ski, sunbathe, and enjoy scrumptious seafood meals. Hal and Judy enjoyed travels to Mexico, Canada, Alaska, the Virgin Islands, Scandinavia, Europe, England and Russia. A most memorable trip occurred in 1975, when the family visited the Panama Canal Zone, prompted by Hal’s appointment by President Gerald Ford to the Panama Canal Commission.
Hal was the first Rice alumnus to be appointed to one of the nation’s highest federal judicial positions as a Circuit Judge, and in 2004, the Association of Rice Alumni awarded Hal the Distinguished Alumni Award. He was also a proud member of the Rotary Club and the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), receiving the George Washington Distinguished Service Award in 2006. He also devoted many years to serving on the board of the Open Door Mission and he was a member of the Council of Scholars of the Compact for America Educational Foundation.
Hal enjoyed time with his children and grandchildren, discussing the Constitution, and keeping up with political events on the radio and TV. While Judy was the talker, Hal was the thinker and he was resolute in his determination to do the right thing, be it matters in cases before him or in family affairs. He was a wonderful counselor and always someone to bounce ideas off of. He loved cheering on the Houston Astros, frying-up freshly caught flounder, and sipping whiskey sours. The friendships he established during his childhood in Houston, at Highland Park, Rice, UT, Delta Tau Delta, Bracewell, the Fifth Circuit, St. Martin’s and during his early married years in Houston were among his most treasured, and he felt blessed that they remained with him throughout his life. Although he will be dearly missed, his memory will stay alive through those whose lives he touched.
Hal was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Judy; mother, Jess; father, Harold; brother, Tom; and sister, Dottie. He is survived by son, Chip DeMoss (Jan) of Houston; daughter, Holly DeMoss of Houston; grandson, Austin DeMoss (Krista Carter) of Austin; granddaughters, Alden DeMoss and Adrienne DeMoss of College Station; great-grandson, Carter DeMoss of Austin; his sister-in-laws, Marty Vogt of Austin and Clytie Phelps of San Antonio; nieces and nephews, Lisa DeMoss Bassett (David Kevil), Matt DeMoss (Krys Boyd), Mark DeMoss (Jill), Fritz Vogt (Tamra), Kenny Vogt (Georganne), Chuck Vogt (Peggy), Marshall Vogt (Darla), Katie Phelps McDonough (Billy), Eleanor Phelps, Jason Phelps; and numerous cousins, great-nieces and nephews; and Maria Rivas, his longtime family employee.
The family wishes to thank the personal assistants at Top Notch Home Healthcare for the support and comfort provided to the Judge over the past several years.
A memorial service and celebration of Hal’s life is to be conducted at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church at a date to be announced once the church has reopened to the public.