William Homer Thornberry

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Thornberry

William Homer
January 9, 1909
December 12, 1995

Eloise Engle
June 28, 1919
April 27, 1989

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William Homer Thornberry

1937 - 1941 Member, Texas House of Representatives
1941 - 1942 District Attorney, Travis County, Texas
1942 - 1946 World War II, Lieut. Commander, U. S. N.
1946 - 1948 Member and Mayor Pro Tem, Austin City Council
1949 - 1963 Representative, United States Congress
1963 - 1965 United States District Judge, Western District of Texas
1965 - 1995 Judge, United States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
Full Name: William Homer Thornberry
Location: Section:Republic Hill, Section 2 (C2)
Row:N  Number:1
Reason for Eligibility: Member, Texas House of Representatives; Member, United States House of Representatives; United States District Judge, Western District of Texas; United States Circuit Judge, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals 
Birth Date: January 9, 1909 
Died: December 12, 1995 
Buried: December 14, 1995 
 

THORNBERRY, WILLIAM HOMER (1909 ~ 1995). William Homer Thornberry was born on January 9, 1909, in Austin, Texas, to Mary L. and William N. Thornberry, teachers in the State School for the Deaf and themselves deaf. He attended public schools in Austin, graduated from Austin High School in 1927. He received his BBA in 1932, and his LLB in 1936 from the University of Texas. In 1954, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Gallaudet College, Washington, D.C.

Homer Thornberry served as a Member in the House of Representatives, Legislature of Texas, in 1937 - 1941. He was in private practice of law from 1936 - 1941 in the law firm of Powell, Wirtz, Rauhut and Gideon. During 1941 - 1942, he served as District Attorney in Travis County, resigning to serve in the Navy during World War II.

Discharged from the Navy as Lieutenant Commander in 1946, he returned to Austin to re-enter the practice of law in partnership with the late Judge Herman Jones. He was a member of the City Council of Austin from 1946 - 1948, serving as Mayor Pro Tempore in 1947 - 1948.

Homer Thornberry was elected in 1948 to the 81st Session of the United States Congress as Representative of the 10th Congressional District of Texas. He was re-elected to each Congress until his resignation in December, 1963. During his time in Congress, he was a member of the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives from January of 1955, until his resignation.

He was appointed by President John F. Kennedy as a United States District Judge for the Western District of Texas in 1963, and commissioned by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and sworn in as a United States Judge in El Paso, Texas, on December 21, 1963. He was appointed and commissioned by President Johnson as a United States Circuit Judge (Fifth Circuit) in 1965, and sworn into office as a Circuit Judge on July 3, 1965, at the LBJ Ranch. He took senior status December 21, 1978. During his service on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, he participated in decisions including many civil rights cases of the 1960s and 1970s. He served as a member of the Judicial Conference Committee to Implement the Criminal Justice Act from 1964 to 1979, and the Fifth Judicial Council Committee on Criminal Justice Act in 1967.

Judge Thornberry received the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award in 1948. He served as a board member of Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C. (the only senior college for the deaf in the world) from 1949 until his resignation from Congress, at which time he was named honorary life member of the Gallaudet Board. He was a Delegate-at-Large at the National Democratic Convention in 1956 and 1960. He was an Honorary Member of the Order of the Coif, an honorary legal organization and was chosen as a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas in 1965. He was elected to the Austin High School Hall of Honor in May, 1983. He received the Leon Green Award from the Texas Law Review Association of the University of Texas School of Law in April, 1986. Judge Thornberry was a past member of the Texas Bar Association and a current member of the Travis County Bar Association. He was a member of the Texas Society of Sons of the American Revolution and a 33rd Degree KCCH Member of the Austin Scottish Rite Bodies. He was an honorary member of Kiwanis International, and served as Potentate of the Ben Hur Temple Shrine in 1948.

Judge Thornberry died peacefully at home on Tuesday, December 12, 1995 and was buried in the Texas State Cemetery on December 14, 1995.

Biographical information taken from Thornberry's Texas State Cemetery file materials.

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