Walker, James Thomas

June 7, 1937 - July 21, 2016

James Thomas (J.T.) Walker

 

1937 – 2016

 

People told J.T. Walker that he was the luckiest guy in the world. He agreed. He loved his life. He absolutely loved it. And it loved him back.

 

J.T. was a giant personality and a loyal, humble friend. He was creative and optimistic, tender-hearted, and unashamedly teary on occasion. He had a wry sense of humor, a hearty laugh, an enormous intellect, and an even bigger heart. He was a leader in his profession and a natural mentor in life. J.T. had a talent for recognizing potential and helping others develop their strengths, and his grandchildren benefited from J.T.’s thoughts during their late-night talks. J.T. actively stayed in touch with his friends and family because he truly cared about them. No matter who called, he responded with a smile, hug, and hands ready to help. Just the sound of his deep voice (with a West Texas drawl) rumbling, “This is J.T.” brought a smile. J.T. had a large, loving family; he was a treasured husband, son, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend. J.T. battled cancer during the last months of his life but it would have been hard for most people to know the extent of his illness; he continued his “normal life” for most of that time, which was his wish. He passed away on July 21, 2016.

 

J.T. married the love of his life, Nayna, in 1983. They were high school sweethearts who found their way back to each other years later; they were devoted to one another and had a lot of fun together over the years. Known as Nana and Papa to their 17 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren, Papa embraced his large family who, in return, adored him. Words cannot describe how much his children and grandchildren loved J.T. He made regular efforts to have one-on-one time with each of them, and he enjoyed those times as much as they did. One of the most meaningful and important projects J.T. initiated was an annual family reunion centered around the Ringling Bros. circus; he wanted to create memories for the children. For 31 years, without fail, he helped organize a gathering that built friendships among family and recreated a model of extended family life that will last well into the future.

 

Born in Fort Stockton TX in 1937, J.T. was a true West Texas gentleman who grew up on his family’s ranch, the White and Baker Ranch. He was proud that his family had deep roots in the ranching tradition, and as a boy, J.T. rode miles in the mesa country, to camp, hunt javelinas, and swim at Comanche Springs. He graduated from Fort Stockton High School in 1955, where he played football, basketball and ran track for the FHS Panthers. He was also President of the Student Council. Although he lived in Dallas for most his adult life, he treasured his West Texas roots; J.T. kept ranch mementos close, and enjoyed a nightly glass of Fort Stockton wine. J.T. was also a member of Sons of the Republic of Texas.

 

A proud University of Texas Longhorn, J.T. earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1961. He moved to Dallas and began to practice law. When his father needed his help, J.T. moved his law practice to Midland. He was twice appointed Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas. J.T. later returned to Dallas; he saw a need for young lawyers to better understand oil and gas law, so he formed study groups which later became the Oil and Gas Section of the Dallas Bar Association. J.T. was instrumental in organizing the Oil, Gas and Mineral Law Section of the Dallas Bar Association and became the section’s first chairman. When the State Bar of Texas authorized a certification in oil and gas law, J.T. organized a seminar called A Review of Oil and Gas Law. J.T.’s purpose was to make it possible for attorneys to study to take the certification examination at moderate expense. J.T. was the first course director for this seminar and continued to be the course director for the first few years. The seminar continues to be given year after year as an annual feature of the Dallas Bar. He was in the first class to become Board Certified in Oil and Gas Law.

 

Things you may not know about J.T.:

  • T. learned and mastered two styles of martial arts, judo and aikido (the way of the harmonious spirit); he was drawn to its physical, mental, and moral disciplines, as well as the art of self-protection.
  • He sang at an Irish pub in Brooklyn at his granddaughter’s wedding reception, and recorded music with his grandson.
  • T. organized a project to collect and refurbish used computers, and give them to refugees for use in learning English and finding jobs.
  • With a nearly photographic memory, J.T. carried a huge amount of information in his head – from complex law to song lyrics, checking account balances, and facts related to “deals”.
  • He had a well-developed regimen of daily beverages that included Diet Pepsi, iced tea, and red wine.
  • JT travelled with a couple of suitcases of pillows, to maximize comfort during sleep. And he wasn’t a morning person.
  • He learned new technologies and was proficient on his iPhone and Kindle; he listened to music on Spotify, texted, and FaceTimed.

 

J.T.’s loving family includes his wife, Nayna, and children, grandchildren, and their spouses. J.T.’s children are his daughter Ann (Stephanie), his son Jim (Andrea), his step-children Jeanne (Clark), George (Effie), Katy (Gregg, deceased), and Gayle (Scott). J.T.’s 17 grandchildren are Aaron, Alyson, Lance, Luke, Amy (Steve), Cory (Ashley), Mary (Nick), Austin, Andy (Megan), Holly, Sean (Julia), Josh, Michael (Samantha), Stephen (Alexandra), Danny, Philip and Turner. His 5 great-grandchildren are Liam, Allie, Gavin, Hannah and Grace. His cousins include Tom (JoAnn), Mary Margaret (Bob). His nieces include Becky Nell (Roger) their sons John and Robert, and Mary Kay. Extended family members are Dr. Shirley Patterson and Neil Patterson.

 

A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at Lakeside Baptist Church in Dallas on August 5, 2016 at 3:00 p.m., followed by a reception at The Circle Grill (3701 N Buckner Blvd, Dallas, TX 75228) from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.

 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in J.T.’s memory to the American Center for Law and Justice, P.O. Box 90555, Washington D.C., 20090-0555.

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