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Vern McGrew Jr.

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Vern Vorhees McGrew, Jr. passed away surrounded by his devoted and loving family at Methodist Hospital on January 9, 2012.
Vern was born in Big Spring, Texas on December 7, 1929 to Katie Martin and Vern V. McGrew. Vern, Sr. was an early pioneer in the oil field supply business having come to Texas in 1912 with the Oilwell Supply Company. After Vern Sr. followed the oil booms, the family settled in Houston in 1935. Vern attended Houston public schools and graduated from Lamar High School. In 1946, while at Lamar he lettered in basketball and set the Texas Relay and State Record in high jump. Vern often said that he did not realize his grades were good enough to go to Rice University until shortly after the State Track Meet. He lettered four years at Rice, twice winning the Southwest Conference Meet. In 1948, he won the tryouts for the U.S. Olympic team and thus qualified to participate in the Olympic Games held in London. At eighteen, Vern was the second youngest on the team. He was the first track and field Olympian that had graduated from a Houston high school as well as the second Olympian from Rice. Vern was named All American in 1950 after winning the National Collegiate Title.
After graduating from Rice, Vern attended graduate school at the University of Texas and was elected Worthy Master of his fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega. Later, after two years of military service, he graduated from University of Texas Law School in 1956. While at Texas he met his future bride, Martha Ann Hamblen, daughter of James "Jake" Hamblen, a renowned Texas Aggie and her mother, Lillie Marie Perlitz Hamblen. Vern and Martha were married at Sacred Heart Cathedral in 1953. After law school, Vern joined the Humble Oil and Refining Company, now known as Exxon. Vern's work took him and his family to Alaska and California before returning to Austin as Exxon's chief lobbyist. After thirty years, he took early retirement and concentrated on hunting, fishing and enjoying his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Vern is predeceased by his loving wife of fifty-four years, Martha Ann Hamblen McGrew, and his son, William Martin McGrew. He is survived by his son, John James McGrew and his wife, Emilia Rusu of Anchorage; daughter Linda McGrew Stevens and her husband, Scott Stevens of Houston; and daughter-in-law Cheryl McGrew of Minneapolis. He enjoyed a special and unique relationship with each of his grandchildren; Stephanie and husband Mark Renn, Katherine McGrew, Mark Stevens, Daniel McGrew, and Jake, Victor and Gema McGrew. He delighted in visiting with his two great-grandchildren, Matthew and Mallorie Renn. Joan Shrader of Baird is his dear cousin. Tetta Johnson is also a loving member of the McGrew family having cared for the family for over fifty-years.
Vern wished to recognize the fondest of memories with the former partners of the Double Eagle Ranch, the Double Eagle Club and the members of the Friday Club that meets on Wednesday, as well as, his dear friends Dale Cheeseman, Bob Cummins, George Glauser, Bubba Pfeffer, Dana Richardson, Gilbert Sevier, Lorenzo Taylor, and DeWitt Waltmon. Vern spent his last year at the Forum and would like to express his thanks for the community's care and kindness.
The family will gather for a private memorial service this summer. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions in Vern's name may be directed to Rice University, Office of Development - MS-80, Attn: Athletic Department, PO Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251-1892.

Published in Houston Chronicle from Jan. 12 to Jan. 15, 2012
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