Prominent Houston-area Bear honored for service to the community
Here at Baylor, John Eddie Williams, BBA ’76, JD ’78, is well-known as a legendary attorney and transformative giver whose name adorns the field at McLane Stadium. In Houston, he is also known as one of the nation’s leading attorneys — one who happens to have a big heart for Houston’s underserved.
Last month, Williams was honored as the second recipient of the Joseph D. Jamail Award for Justice, presented by Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (ADVA), for “unparalleled community service and advocacy for those who cannot afford legal representation.” ADVA, a Houston-based organization whose mission is to end family violence through programs, advocacy and support of victims of domestic abuse, created the award to recognize individuals who provide legal aid and advocacy for those who need legal representation, but cannot afford it.
It’s no surprise that Williams would garner such an honor, nor is it a surprise that a Baylor grad would be recognized. Pro Bono service is built into the DNA of Baylor Law graduates, who have long been recognized for their work with the underserved. Williams, in addition to pro bono legal services, has given generously to numerous organizations across the state. Here at his alma mater, his lead gifts provided for the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law School in 2002 and McLane Stadium ten years later. In Houston, he and his wife, Sheridan, are two of the city’s leading philanthropists, giving to support research at hospitals across the city, providing toys for underprivileged children at Christmas, and supporting many other causes.
Williams, who played football at Baylor and was a part of Grant Teaff’s initial recruiting class, is well-known for being part of the “Dream Team” that represented the State of Texas against the tobacco industry in 1995, which resulted in the largest settlement in U.S. history. He said his time at Baylor, which was made possible by scholarships, taught him how to set goals that lead to success and led to an appreciation for the impact giving can have in people’s lives. His motto is “To whom much is given, much is expected,” from Luke 12:48. Here at Baylor, at ADVA and across Houston, countless people are thankful he took that to heart.
Sic ’em, John Eddie Williams!