Elbert "Bert" Hooper, a true gentleman lawyer with a warm smile and a quick wit, passed away on Saturday, December 17, 2016, a day before his 87th birthday. He was born December 18, 1929, in Denton, Texas, to Virginia Edwards Hooper and Elbert Hooper, joining his sister Marybelle Hooper (Canfield). In 1931, the family moved to Austin.
Bert graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School in 1946. He received his undergraduate degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 1951 and his law degree from UT in 1955. While at The University of Texas, he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, and of the Naval ROTC, receiving his commission in 1951.
From 1951 to 1954, he served with the United States Navy working with the Atomic Energy Commission as part of the team testing the hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific. He retired from the Naval Reserve as a Commander, and subsequently, was President of the Naval Reserve Association Capital Chapter from 1966-67. He was honored for Outstanding Service.
After graduating from law school, he worked as Assistant District Attorney in Bexar County, Texas, until 1959, when he returned to Austin as Chief Examiner for the Texas Water Commission and as legal counsel for the Texas Water Quality Board and the Texas Air Control Board.
In 1962, he began his private law practice where he was at the forefront of environmental and water law. He assisted in drafting the Water Rights Adjudication Act, and helped the Texas Legislature draft the Texas Water Quality Act, the Texas Clean Air Act, the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act and other environmental legislation. He published and lectured widely on Water, Environmental and Administrative law and chaired a number of professional committees, including the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of Texas and the Water Laws Committee at the Texas Water Conservation Association. He was a member of the the Environmental Law and Administrative Law Sections of the State Bar and the Natural Resources Section.
In 1996, Judge Lucius Bunton appointed Bert as Chairman of the Edwards Aquifer Panel to resolve the impasse over water rights for South Texas imposing a deadline of only ten days. Success was achieved when the group of five lawyers devised a plan to manage the aquifer thus ensuring that there was enough water for South Texas irrigators, San Antonio and the Hill Country.
Later in his career, he concentrated on water district creation, obtaining water rights for ranchers, river authorities and cities. His private practice merged with Hutcheson and Grundy where he was a partner, and he retired as of counsel at Winstead, Secrest and Minick.
Throughout his life, Bert focused his efforts on his beloved Austin and the State of Texas. Bert's Christian faith permeated all aspects of his life and he served in many capacities at St. Matthews Episcopal Church. His outreach extended to mentoring students at Fulmore Middle School, serving as President of the Downtown Austin Rotary Club and after retirement in 2002, as President of SAGE.
Bert spent many wonderful summers in Grand Lake, Colorado, fishing, hiking and enjoying the cool weather with his family. He relished spending time with his many devoted friends including the Marauders, the Spanish Group, Tuesday Night Bible Study group, and his buddies of the Annandale Hunting Club. Always seeking knowledge and adventure, he loved to travel never missing an opportunity to learn more about our world and its cultures.
More than anything else, Bert cherished his family. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Marjorie Benton Hooper; daughters Lee Hensarling (James), Diane Conine (Casey), and Carolyn Lane; grandchildren Lauren Hensarling Huschka (Bryce), Brock Hensarling (Arden), Will Conine (Ashley), Zachary Conine, Catherine, Emily and Charlotte Lane; nieces and nephews Rob Canfield (Mary), Sally Allen, and Amy Sierra (Jimmy); and his beloved dog Pancho.
The family is grateful for the loving care and support of James, John, Natalie and Nellie at Home Care Assistance of Austin and the team from A Med Hospice.
Services for Bert will be held at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, December 21, 2016, at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 8134 Mesa Drive, Austin, Texas 78731.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Matthew's Episcopal Church Permanent Endowment Fund, or a charity of your choice.