Fentress Bracewell Dies; Co-founder Of What Is Now Bracewell & Giuliani

Sunday, July 1, 2007 - 01:00

Fentress Bracewell, one of the founders of what is currently Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, died on June 13 in Houston after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for many years. He was 85.

Mr. Bracewell attended Baylor University, where the man known as "Brace" to his friends met his future wife, Muriel, to whom he was married for 54 years.

After graduation from Baylor University Law School and service in the U.S. Navy, Fentress Bracewell, his father J.S. Bracewell, his brother Searcy Bracewell and Bert Tunks formed the firm of Bracewell & Tunks in 1945.

In 1951, Harry W. Patterson joined the firm and in 1966 the firm adopted the name of Bracewell & Patterson. It carried this name until March 31, 2005 when former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani joined the firm as a name partner.

Fentress Bracewell served the firm for many years as managing partner. According to the family obituary, "he hosted each year a luncheon honoring all the law firm secretaries and support staff, who, following the example of his long-time secretary, Annie Watts, referred to him as 'Mr. Fentress.' Receiving the Houston Boss of the Year Award from the Houston Secretaries Association meant much to him and reflected his salient characteristic of treating everyone he met with the same courtesy, cheer, and chivalry."

Fentress Bracewell became a Port of Houston commissioner in 1968. He became chairman of the commission in 1970 and served in that position for 15 years, the longest tenure of any commission chairman. He also led the development of his namesake, the Fentress Bracewell Barbours Cut Terminal at Morgan's Point and traveled to ports throughout the world promoting trade.

Fentress Bracewell served for many years on numerous public and private corporate boards including First Continental Life & Accident Insurance Company, Cemex, First Investors Financial Services Corporation (chairman), Union National Bank, San Jacinto Savings and Loan (chairman), Frontier Airlines, American Funeral Services (chairman), and the Broadway Plan of Church Finance. He served as a director of the Houston Chamber of Commerce and was chairman of the regional board and a life member of the national board of the Institute of International Education, which directs, among others, the Fulbright Scholars Program. He also was a member of the River Oaks Country Club, the Houston Club, and the University Club of New York.

In addition to Mr. Bracewell's wife, survivors include his son Brad Bracewell, daughter Lyn B. Phillips, and grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nephews and a niece.