Ewell 'Pat' Murphy dies at 89; taught transnational business law at UHLC for 20 years

Ewell 'Pat' Murphy
Ewell 'Pat' Murphy

Feb. 1, 2018 — Ewell E. "Pat" Murphy Jr., who taught as a distinguished lecturer and adjunct professor in transnational business law at the University of Houston Law Center from 1996 to 2015, has died at the age of 89.

Murphy, who passed away Jan. 21, retired in 1992 as a senior partner at Baker Botts where he primarily served energy, energy-service and mining clients around the world. During his years with the firm and continuing after retirement, he also was an active arbitrator of transnational business disputes and an elected member of the College of Commercial Arbitrators.

"I never met anyone who didn't like Pat," said a long-time colleague, Professor Peter Linzer. "Besides being a brilliant lawyer, and recognized as the leading transnational lawyer in Houston, he was always accessible and willing to share his expertise. I learned so much just talking with him in the hall. And he gave so much to his students during his 20 years at UHLC."

A native of Washington, D.C., Murphy earned a B.A. with honors from the University of Texas in 1946, and two years later at the age of 20, received a law degree, also with honors, from the UT School of Law. During his senior year at UT Law, he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University. After passing the Texas Bar exam, he moved to England as an undergraduate of St. Edmund Hall, where he studied comparative constitutional law. Returning to Texas, he volunteered for the U.S. Air Force and was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1952, He spent two years on active duty, chiefly in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, as a legal officer in the U.S. Mission to Saudi Arabia. He joined the firm now known as Baker Botts in 1954.

During his lengthy legal career, he served in leadership roles for a number of professional and civic organizations, primarily dealing with international law, business, and foreign affairs. His enthusiasm for international student exchange led to his work from 1955 to 1992 on state and regional committees that select Rhodes Scholars. Among the candidates he vetted was future President Bill Clinton. President George H. W. Bush appointed him to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board in Washington, D.C., where he served from 1991-1996, including two years as its elected chairman.

Among numerous honors, including the inaugural Pat Murphy Award of the Institute for Transnational Arbitration, he was recognized as an "Honorary Alumnus" by the UH Law Alumni Association.

His wife, Patricia Purnell Murphy, preceded him in death in 1964. He is survived by his three children, Michaela Murphy of Mexico City, Megan Patricia Murphy of Austin, and Harlan Ewell Murphy of Houston, and three granddaughters.

A reception with the family will be from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, at Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive, Houston. A memorial service will be at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 3, at St. Philip Presbyterian Church, 4807 San Felipe in Houston.

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