Robert ("Bob") Piro beloved husband, father, brother, grandfather, friend died unexpectedly on Saturday, November 11, 2012. He was a very special man and will be terribly missed by all who knew him.
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It was nearly impossible not to be impressed by Bob - by his intelligence, generosity, good looks, lightheartedness, integrity, insistence on excellence, and for those that were lucky enough to know him, his hand made pasta. Fiercely smart and competitive with work, kind and unwaveringly supportive with family, Bob was extraordinary.
A formidable powerhouse opponent in the courtroom, a great writer and intellect, he took many cases to the Texas Supreme Court and had a huge impact on law in this state. Bob was one of the founders of family law in Texas. Every family law student can attest; they've all read case law defined by his work. In the 1960's and 70's, he helped write the Texas Family Law Code, which has been the guiding instrument for that specialty ever since. He, along with others, established the Family Law Bar Association in Houston. As one of Texas' top 10 family lawyers for over 4 decades anybody that was getting a divorce wanted Bob to represent them. His colleagues described him as a fierce adversary but he was also compassionate and fair. Commitment to the truth and a bond to his word were always the hallmarks of his professional integrity. When Bob gave his word and agreement you could take it to the bank. He was always available to any member of the Bar. Generous with his time, he was always willing to help others, particularly young lawyers. For over 40 years he was one of the best in his profession and will be missed by the Family Law Bar, and most importantly, his clients.
Bob was born in Somerville Massachusetts, the oldest of three sons to James and Louise Piro. After graduation from Matignon High School in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1950, he entered Boston College where he majored in Biology and Philosophy, with a minor in Chemistry, in preparation to attend medical school. While there, he met two of his great life-long friends, Tom Shea and Bill Brady, both of whom went on to successful medical careers. Upon graduation in 1954, Bob married Barbara Ann MacDonald of Rockport, Massachusetts and shortly after was inducted into the Army. He served two years in the medical corps, principally at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. Barbara and Bob liked Texas so much that they decided to stay - but Bob decided he was more interested in law than medicine. They moved to Austin where Bob entered law school.
Bob graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1959. While at UT, Bob served as quiz master, Associate Editor of the Texas Law Review, Chancellor, and as a member of the Order of the Coif.
Upon graduation, Bob began practicing law with the law firm of Baker, Botts, Andrews & Shepherd (now Baker Botts LLP). Like most new lawyers of his time, Bob started with a general practice. He soon showed an affinity for the tax arena and in particular, the individual tax practice associated with estate planning. He was made partner in 1971. Over time, he became well known for his ability to handle the complicated tax issues associated with divorces, and he began handling divorces for some of Houston's well known citizens and elite. Bob eventually left Baker Botts to open his own law firm dedicated to the growing field of family law. It was with his new law firm Piro & Lilly that his family law practice expanded and his reputation grew to what it is today.
While Bob enjoyed great success in his work life, tragedy struck in his personal life in 1972 when his wife Barbara died suddenly, leaving him with four young children to raise and a new house under construction. With the help of many good friends and work associates, Bob was able to continue practicing law, while juggling the very difficult task of being a single parent. Rather than lamenting his fate, Bob embraced his new responsibilities and was devoted to his family. He also found great solace in his hobby, cooking. He was a consummate host and loved nothing better than entertaining in his home and preparing elaborate multi course meals for family and friends. In Houston, he became a famous amateur chef, featured in news articles including the New York Times, and expanding his dinner table to include celebrities, international opera stars, and newsmakers and generously volunteering his cooking skills for charity. His dinner parties were known to fetch thousands of dollars at charity auctions and at his daughter's school, Duchesne, his Italian Sausage booth always sold out at the Spring Fling quickly! It was a joy to eat at Bob's table and he loved giving that joy.
Bob was enthusiastic about all he did. Bob became an early and avid supporter of the Houston Grand Opera. An outstanding tennis player, he joined the Forest Club where he was the clubs single men's tennis champion for several consecutive years. He loved the mountains and hiked and skied in Colorado every year. He loved to read and would often have several books going at once. It was not uncommon for him to lend or buy books for others attuned to what they would enjoy reading . He spent hours tending to his garden and took great pleasure in its beauty, often using his home grown herbs and vegetables in the kitchen. Bob had many close friends and enjoyed time and travel with them throughout his life.
But even with so many hobbies and a very busy professional life, he never lost sight of his true passion: his family. He cherished his children and was a wonderful and beloved father. He was always a help to his brothers and their families and to his wife's family. He welcomed both his father and his father-in-law to live with him in their final years. Thankfully, he found love again with an equally impressive professional in her own right, Dr. Mary Riley, and they married in 1992. One of the great joys of his life was having another daughter, Mica, whom he raised with the passion and pride that he exuded in all his life. Mary and Bob lived very happily traveling the world and entertaining friends and family for a wonderful 20 years. With the guiding hand of both her loving parents, Mica has become a focused and successful student with aspirations of a career in the medical field. He is survived by his wife, Mary: and his daughters, Carolyn Piro Landen (and her husband Paul), Cynthia Piro Barnes (and her Husband Heath) Andrea Piro, and Mica Piro, his son, Jonathan Piro (and wife Alison) his brothers, Richard Piro, James Piro (and his wife Susan), his sister in law Bridget Syma (and her husband Joe), and his nephew, Dennis Watson. Bob's grandchildren also survive him: Benjamin Landen, John F. Hall III, Mary Landen, Cameron Piro, and Jamie Piro.
The family would like to acknowledge and thank Anne Rice, Cindy Baden, Shirley Sparks and Alicia Sorto for their unyielding support and dedication to Bob's life and career.
A short service will take place at 9:30 am this Saturday, November 17th at St. Anne's Catholic Church located at 2140 Westheimer Road, Houston 77098
One of Bob's many joys in life was the pleasures of food and wine and the enrichment they provide to living life at its best. The family requests in lieu of flowers that contributions be made to the Chaine Foundation, part of the international gastronomic society, Chaine des Rotisseurs, devoted to preserving the camaraderie and pleasures of the table. The foundation provides scholarships to young chefs and sommeliers so that they may continue the great traditions and practices of providing excellent food and wine. Donations in memory of Bob Piro, may be mailed to The Chaine Foundation, c/o Parmet, Chapman & Madsen, P. C., 6750 W. Loop S., #1010, Bellaire, TX 77401 (a 501(c)(3) organization). Alternatively you may choose to give to St. Jude's.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Nov. 14, 2012