John Buford Abercrombie, was born on the 26th of October 1926 in Houston, Texas. He died in Houston on the 19th of June 2014. |
Mr. Abercrombie attended public schools in Houston- Wilson Elementary, Lanier Junior High and Lamar Senior High, graduating from Lamar in 1943. His college education was at The Rice Institute, Colorado School of Mines and The University of Texas. At Rice, he was a member of the Rally Club, and at Texas, a member of Alpha Tau Omega social fraternity.
While at Rice, Mr. Abercrombie joined the V-12 officer training program of the United States Navy. He was commissioned an Ensign in March of 1946, served for four months at the Rhode Island Naval Training Station and on the USS Denver, and was then released from active duty. He remained in the Naval Reserve until 1950 when he resigned his Commission.
Mr. Abercrombie graduated from The Rice Institute in 1948 with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He worked as an engineer at Cameron Iron Works in Houston for about 10 months before, in the absence of a better alternative, going to law school at the University of Texas. He graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 1951, with honors, Law Review, Chancellors, Order of the Coif and Phi Delta Phi. He was licensed to practice law by the State of Texas in 1950 and retained his license until the time of his death. During his time at Texas Law School, Mr. Abercrombie met, courted and on the 1st of April 1950 married Virginia Lee Townsend. His life changed for the better although his law school grades did not.
Upon graduation from law school, Mr. Abercrombie returned to Houston to work as an Associate at the firm of Baker, Botts, Andrews, and Parish (now Baker Botts LLP). He practiced law with the firm as an Associate and then as a Partner until his retirement in 1987.
At Baker Botts, his primary field of practice was labor relations and employment law, representing management. This work entailed negotiation of labor contracts, handling arbitration cases under such contracts, dealing with union strike action, and litigating in both state and federal courts and with government agencies, primarily the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. For many years he was the head of the firm's Labor Department. On one occasion, he had the opportunity to handle and argue a case before the United States Supreme Court. He lost the case but never forgot the thrill of the experience.
After his retirement from Baker Botts, Mr. Abercrombie was appointed a labor arbitrator by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and for a number of years acted as a neutral arbitrator in labor contract disputes, upon appointment by the parties to the dispute. These arbitrations involved many diverse issues and a varied spectrum of businesses and industry located in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. He enjoyed the change from appearing before an arbitrator or a court to being the decision maker, i.e. the judge.
During his lifetime, Mr. Abercrombie tried most sports common to his generation. He hunted birds and deer, played some tennis, bowled, played ice hockey, sandlot football and softball, skied on both snow and water, was an avid, if inept, golfer, and in his later years, at his wife's suggestion, took up duplicate bridge. Although he was not very good at it, bridge became a fixture in his life. He enjoyed the competition and the companionship of the bridge table.
Mr. Abercrombie was a member of Houston Country Club and the Elk River Club in Banner Elk, North Carolina. He formerly held memberships in the St. Charles Bay Club, Lago Vista Country Club, Old Baldy Club in Saratoga, Wyoming and Horseshoe Bay Club in Marble Falls, Texas. Mr. and Mrs. Abercrombie maintained a residence at the
Elk River Club for many years, where they would go for "summer camp".
The recitation of family relationships, education, work history and avocations does not, however, speak to the man. He was honest with himself and others. He loved and cared for his wife, Virginia, and his children and grandchildren. He had a real sense of humor, although it was a little canted. He treated everyone with whom he dealt with respect. In his middle years he was an excellent painter. He enjoyed reading and the discovery and use of new and appropriate words. He had a good deep voice with which he sometimes terrorized young lawyers. As a child of the "great depression", he was an economic conservative and a social moderate.
Special thanks to Gloria Salgado for many years of devotion.
He was predeceased by his parents, Bolling A. Abercrombie and Maude Gilchreas Abercrombie; his son, Gilchreas T. Abercrombie; and his brother, Bolling A. Abercrombie, Jr. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Virginia; his children, Virginia Lee Abercrombie and John B. Abercrombie Jr., his grandchildren, Yvonne Abercrombie and John B. Abercrombie III; and his daughter-in-law, Lorraine D. Abercrombie, his nephews, Andy and Tony, his niece, Ann and their children, his cousin, Jack Stalsby.
Friends are cordially invited to gather with the family and share remembrances of John during a reception to be held from half-past four o'clock in the afternoon until half-past six o'clock in the evening on Wednesday the 25th of June, in the grand foyer of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed to The Brookwood Community, 1752 FM 1489, Brookshire, TX, 77423; or the
Published in Houston Chronicle from June 21 to June 23, 2014