Elbert "Bert" Hooper, Jr., (Class of 1951)

(12/18/1929 12/17/2016)


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Elbert “Bert” Hooper, a true gentleman lawyer with a warm smile and a quick wit, passed away on Saturday, December 17, 2016, a day before his 87th birthday. He was born December 18, 1929, in Denton, TX, to Virginia Edwards Hooper and Elbert Hooper, joining his sister Marybelle Hooper (Canfield). In 1931, the family moved to Austin. Bert graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School in 1946.

He entered UT Austin in the fall of 1947. His first year he was a pledge of Delta Kappa Epsilon, a social fraternity. In his second year he joined Mariners, also a social fraternity. Mariners was organized in April 1948 to promote interest in Naval Service and to provide a service organization for Naval ROTC and Navy use. Bert also joined the Naval ROTC Unit. Also while at UT, Bert was a member of the Pre-Law Society, reflecting an ambition for his future. After the fall semester of 1951 Bert received his undergraduate degree from UT and his commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. Ceremonies were actually in January of 1952.

From 1951 to 1954, he served in the Navy working with the Atomic Energy Commission as part of the team testing the hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific. After his initial four years of active service, Bert returned to Austin, entered Law School and joined the Naval Reserve. He earned his law degree from UT in 1955. He remained in the Naval Reserve during much of his civilian career and retired as a Commander. He was President of the Naval Reserve Association, Capital Chapter, from 1966-67. There he was honored for Outstanding Service.

After graduating from law school, Bert worked as Assistant District Attorney in Bexar County, Texas, until 1959, when he returned to Austin as Chief Examiner for the Texas Water Commission and as legal counsel for the Texas Water Quality Board and the Texas Air Control Board. In 1962, he began his private law practice where he was at the forefront of environmental and water law. He assisted in drafting the Water Rights Adjudication Act, and helped the Texas Legislature draft the Texas Water Quality Act, the Texas Clean Air Act, the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act and other environmental legislation. He published and lectured widely on Water, Environmental and Administrative law and chaired a number of professional committees, including the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of Texas and the Water Laws Committee at the Texas Water Conservation Association. He was a member of the Environmental Law and Administrative Law Sections of the State Bar and the Natural Resources Section. In 1996, Judge Lucius Bunton appointed Bert as Chairman of the Edwards Aquifer Panel to resolve the impasse over water rights for South Texas imposing a deadline of only ten days. Success was achieved when the group of five lawyers devised a plan to manage the aquifer thus ensuring that there was enough water for South Texas irrigators, San Antonio and the Hill Country. Later in his career, he concentrated on water district creation, obtaining water rights for ranchers, river authorities and cities. His private practice merged with Hutcheson and Grundy where he was a partner, and he retired as a counselor at Winstead, Secrest and Minick.

Throughout his life, Bert focused his efforts on his beloved Austin and the State of Texas. Bert’s Christian faith permeated all aspects of his life and he served in many capacities at St. Matthews Episcopal Church. His outreach extended to mentoring students at Fulmore Middle School, serving as President of the Downtown Austin Rotary Club and after retirement in 2002, as President of SAGE. Bert spent many wonderful summers in Grand Lake, CO, fishing, hiking and enjoying the cool weather with his family. He relished spending time with his many devoted friends including the Marauders, the Spanish Group, Tuesday Night Bible Study group, and his buddies of the Annandale Hunting Club. Always seeking knowledge and adventure, he loved to travel never missing an opportunity to learn more about our world and its cultures. More than anything else, Bert cherished his family.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Marjorie Benton Hooper; daughters Lee Hensarling (James), Diane Conine (Casey), and Carolyn Lane; grandchildren Lauren Hensarling Huschka (Bryce), Brock Hensarling (Arden), Will Conine (Ashley), Zachary Conine, Catherine, Emily and Charlotte Lane; nieces and nephews Rob Canfield (Mary), Sally Allen, and Amy Sierra (Jimmy); and his beloved dog Pancho. The family is grateful for the loving care and support of James, John, Natalie and Nellie at Home Care Assistance of Austin and the team from A Med Hospice. Services for Bert were held on December 21, 2016, at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. Many parts of this obituary were taken from an obituary printed in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper from Dec. 20 to Dec. 21, 2016.


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Last Updated: February 7, 2017