Frank Garrettson Evans, III, retired Chief Justice of the Texas First Court of (Civil) Appeals passed away peacefully at his home in Bastrop, Texas, on November 9, 2019 at 91 years of age. A man who never met a stranger he didn’t want to get to know better, he always introduced himself simply as “Frank,” before starting an inquisitive line of questions to get to know his new friend. He is indelibly recorded in Texas history for providing citizens with access to justice that improved the lives of countless people who never knew his name, yet benefitted greatly from the conflict resolution methods that he pioneered and implemented, including mediation and arbitration. He will be remembered by those who knew him for his peripatetic and sustained curiosity and thirst for knowledge about history, science, technology, sustainable design and living, plants, clean water and renewable and clean energy.
A native Texan, Frank was born in San Antonio, but soon moved to Houston with his family and graduated from Lamar High School. He immediately enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served overseas with the First Marine Division in China. Upon discharge, he returned to Texas to continue his education and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin School of Law in 1951. He again served his country by re-enlisting during the North Korean Conflict, attaining the rank of Captain before being discharged honorably in 1959 from the Marine Corps.
Frank returned to Texas and practiced as a trial lawyer. In 1973, Governor Briscoe appointed Frank to serve as a justice on the First Court of (Civil) Appeals in Houston and, several years later, Governor Clements elevated Frank to the position of chief justice.
After retiring from full-time judicial service in 1990, Frank entered private practice as Judicial Officer of Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (J.A.M.S.) then, in 1994, he was named Visiting Professor and Founding Director of the Center for Legal Responsibility at South Texas College of Law Houston, where he taught courses related to alternative dispute resolution (ADR). That Center was later renamed in his honor as the Frank Evans Center for Conflict Resolution. While at the Center, he served as “Of Counsel” at the law office of Haynes and Boone in Houston, and he also served as the Conference Judge for the First Court of Appeals in Houston.
During his career, Frank became widely known as the “father of alternative dispute resolution,” because of his groundbreaking work developing conflict resolution processes and programs outside the usual legal system throughout Texas. He was instrumental in developing many ADR “firsts,” including creating a judicial, appellate, settlement conference program; implementing juvenile justice peer mediation in schools; and sponsoring and drafting the Texas ADR financing and court referral statute. He was also a principal draftsman of the 1987 ADR Procedures Act that established a new policy in Texas courts encouraging voluntary, peaceable resolution of civil disputes.
For the past twenty-five years, Frank has remained active in dispute resolution not only throughout the country, but also internationally. Until recently, he was active conducting mediations and serving as the President of the non-profit Resolution Forum, dedicated to developing new, efficient and effective dispute resolution systems; participating in the Bastrop Bar Association creating continuing education programs; and improving processes and services at the dispute resolution center in Bastrop.
Frank is survived by his beloved wife of twenty-nine years, Elizabeth Lawrence Evans, his son, Richard Evans (Melissa Byrd), and his daughter, Margaret Cormier. He is also survived by his grandchildren, April Evans, Lauren Evans and Keith Cormier; stepchildren Jeffrey Campbell (Cassandra) and Ellis Garvin (Keesha Bowers) and step grandchildren Astrid Campbell, Jolie Campbell, Layla Campbell, Rowen Garvin and Clara Garvin. He was preceded in death by parents, Frank Garrettson Evans, Jr. and Ruth Forquier Evans, and by his cherished poodle and companion, Luc.
The family profusely thanks the devoted caregivers and hospice care staff who helped Elizabeth and Frank in his final days, including Mandi Miller, Amanda Chandler, Veronica Salpor, Brenda Prater and Pat Bureleson; as well as all the many friends who have visited Frank at home. He found great comfort in sharing time with each of you.
The public is invited to attend a memorial service at South Texas College of Law Houston, Joe Green Auditorium, on November 19, 2019 at eleven o’clock in the morning. Interment will be at the Texas State Cemetery, Austin, on November 21 at 12 Noon, with family members and invited guests in attendance.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests in memoriam gifts to www.bastropfoodpantry.org or bastropanimalrescue.org. Services under the direction of Bradshaw-Carter Memorial & Funeral Services in Houston, 713-521-0066.