Jan. 4, 2019 — Professor Emeritus John Jay Douglass, who taught military law for 37 years at the University of Houston Law Center after serving 31 years in the U.S. Army, died recently at the age of 96.
Douglass passed away Dec. 22 at his home in Charlottesville, Va. He joined the faculty in 1974, retiring in 2011 from the classroom where he also taught criminal law and election law.
"John had three remarkable and successful careers -- as an Army JAG officer, the dean of the National College of District Attorneys, and a member of our faculty," said Professor Emeritus Jordan Paust who served with Douglass in the Army and as a colleague at the Law Center. "I had the privilege of knowing John during each professional adventure.
"He was a colonel and first-rate commandant of the JAG School in Charlottesville while I was a captain on the 50-person faculty engaged in teaching various courses to the 2,000 lawyers in the Army during the Vietnam War, and others from other branches of our military and a few other countries. During each professional endeavor, John was a well-respected leader and teacher who, perhaps more importantly, had many lasting friendships. He is clearly missed."
A native of Lincoln, Neb., Douglass joined the Army in 1943, serving in various capacities until he earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School through an Army program and transferred to the Judge Advocate Generals Corps. In addition to stateside postings, including the Pentagon, Douglass served overseas in the Caribbean, Korea, Tokyo, Germany and Vietnam.
His final assignment from 1970 to 1975 was as the commandant of the Judge Advocate Generals School at the University of Virginia. Attaining the rank of colonel, Douglass was awarded numerous decorations, including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf cluster, the Bronze Star and the Army commendation medal with Oak Leaf cluster.
After retiring from the Army in 1975, he was named dean of the National College of District Attorneys at the University of Houston, which was a joint project of the American Bar Association, the National District Attorneys Association and the Association of American Trial Lawyers.
Douglass was active in the American Bar Association, serving 14 years as a member of the House of Delegates and as member, chair and advisory member of the standing committee on Election Law. He also served as a council member of the Criminal Law Section and the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division and as a member of the standing committee on Armed Forces law.
He also was selected as a member of an American committee sent to observe the first free election in Hungary in 50 years. He was an advisor to the first elected attorney general of Albania in 1992. From 1995 through 1997, he served as a consultant to the procurators of Russia and the Ukraine. He was founder and longtime president of the Retired Army Judge Advocates and was a member and president of the Houston area Retired Officers Association. In Houston, he and his wife were long-time supporters of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Houston Grand Opera and the Alley Theater.
Douglass was predeceased by his wife of 68 years, Margaret "Papoose" Pickering. He is survived by his three children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Jan. 7, at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, 6221 Main Street.