Douglass D. Hearne, a respected trial lawyer and devoted husband, father, grandfather and son, passed away peaceably on Saturday, October 9, 2010, in the loving arms of his family while watching his beloved Aggies (thankfully, he passed while the outcome of the game was still in doubt). Though born in San Antonio on November 17, 1930, he considered himself a proud Blanco County native, having been raised on the family ranch east of Blanco before graduating from Blanco High at the age of 16. As president of his senior class, he wrote a letter to then Texas Governor Beauford Jester challenging him to give the commencement address to Blanco High’s Class of 1947. Sufficiently moved, Governor Beauford accepted the challenge and delivered the commencement address to the 11 graduating seniors. This was perhaps Doug’s first of countless successes he achieved through sheer grit and the art of persuasion.
Doug enrolled at Texas A&M College, where he became a Squadron Commander and won many honors, including the coveted General Moore Trophy. Upon graduating from A&M in 1951, he was ordered into pilot training in the USAF, earning his pilots wings in 1952. He served as a combat jet fighter pilot during the Korean War. Before his discharge from the Air Force, he returned stateside in 1953 to marry Janet Anne Baillie of Louisville, Kentucky, whom he loved and cherished for the next 49 years.
Upon his discharge from the Air Force in 1955, he entered law school at the University of Texas and began his illustrious legal career. He passed the Texas bar and tried his first jury case before graduating from law school in January of 1958. During his nearly fifty year legal career, he received many honors and served the State Bar in several capacities, including serving on the first committees to draft the Texas Family Code and State Bar Rules. But above all else, he was the quintessential trial attorney. His knowledge of and passion for the law were unequaled. From voir dire to closing argument through appellate review, he represented his clients with zeal and dogged determination that was loved by his clients, loathed by his opponents, but respected by all. His cross examinations were legendary, but the secret of his success was his unabashed belief in his clients’ cause. To the chagrin of many of his colleagues, he simply believed his clients were seldom in the wrong, and his success in the courtroom often proved him right. In the more than 250 civil jury trials he handled during his career, his clients were on the winning end far more often than not. He was, truly, a “lawyer’s lawyer”.
While he excelled in the courtroom, Doug found solace and true happiness in his wife, children, grandchildren, and the ranch. Growing up in the Hill Country during the depression, he strove to provide his wife and children with means and comforts he was not afforded. He provided his children with an education, and once they were out of the house, he and Jan began traveling the world, often with their children and grandchildren in tow. When not working or traveling, he would be at the ranch maintaining and operating heavy machinery. He exhibited remarkable patience when his grandchildren began arriving, and he loved taking them for rides on his equipment. His devotion to his beloved wife, the care he provided his aging mother, and the tireless energy he applied to his profession and his ranch, were life lessons not lost on his children or grandchildren. But above all else, he instilled in his children and grandchildren the importance of family, and living by his life’s motto: “Fear God, Tell the Truth, Work Hard.”
Doug is preceded in death by his loving wife Jan, his mother Grace Dodson Hearne, and his brother, Truman Hearne. He is survived by his son Chris Hearne and wife, Leslie, his daughter Kathleen Wight and husband, David, his daughter Mary Hearne Umstattd and husband, Jimmy, and son Douglass D. Hearne, Jr. and wife, Stephanie. He is further survived by 10 grandchildren: Justin Hearne, Adrienne Hearne, Charles Wight, Jennifer Wight, Christopher Wight, Christian Umstattd, Janey Umstattd, Erik Umstattd, Baillie Hearne, and Douglass “Dodson” Hearne, III.
Doug’s children will receive family and friends in celebration of Doug’s life at the Headliner’s Club on Thursday, October 14, from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Doug will be interred in a private ceremony at the family cemetery at the Hearne ranch at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 16, 2010. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The 12th Man Foundation, P.O. Box 2800, College Station, TX 77841 or Caritas of Austin, P.O. Box 1947, Austin, TX 78767-1947.