Professor Raymond L. Britton, who taught Admiralty Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, and business law courses at the University of Houston Law Center for 59 years, passed away on May 19, 2017, at the age of 92.
Britton, the second longest tenured professor in the history of the law school, died May 19 of complications resulting from a broken leg.
Britton was born August 20, 1924 in Charleroi, Pa., a steel-mining town on the Monongahela River. When he was 3-years-old, his father died in a construction accident. Raised by a single mother, Britton helped her run the family grocery store throughout the Great Depression.
He served in the Army during WW II, rising to the rank of lieutenant, and was in Japan with the occupation forces during which he witnessed the Japanese surrender to Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Tokyo Bay.
After returning to the U.S., Britton earned his undergraduate degree from Penn State University in 1948; his LL.B. in 1951 from Southern Methodist University law school, graduating first in his class; and LL.M. in 1961 from Harvard Law School under a Ford Foundation Fellowship.
Prior to entering academe, he worked as an associate for the now defunct firm of Butler, Binion, Rice & Cook from 1953-58.
He was practicing at Butler, Binion when then-Dean A.A. White hired him as an adjunct professor. He joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1958; was promoted to associate professor in 1961 and full professor in 1966.
He became active in labor arbitration early in his career, gaining national recognition as an arbitrator and member of the National Academy of Arbitrators. He also served as a director of the board of the Houston Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas from 1978 to 1983.
Professor Emeritus John Mixon notes in his book, “The Autobiography of a Law School,” that Britton brought the computer age to the law school: “Ray was the first of the faculty to join the computer generation with his state-of-the-art Wang word processor.” Mixon also noted that Britton “attended every law graduation ceremony since he joined the faculty.”
He wrote numerous publications, including “Are We Beginning A New Day for Management Rights;” “Law of Eminent Domain in Texas;” “Blue-Sky Sweat Shops;” “Texas Law of Condemnation” (with Rayburn); and “The Arbitration Guide.”
“I hadn’t thought about teaching too much until I did, and I kind of liked it,” Britton said by way of understatement in a recent interview for the current Briefcase magazine. “So I stayed, and it’s been a long time.”
A memorial service and celebration of his life will take place at 10 a.m., Saturday, June 10, at First Presbyterian Church, 5300 Main St., Houston. A reception will follow the service.
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