Jeptha P. "Jep" Hill, Jr.
Jeptha P. "Jep" Hill, Jr., age 78, passed peacefully in Austin, Texas, with family at his side on January 10, 2021, after a long, progressive battle with corticobasal degeneration. CBD is a rare, prime-of-life brain disease with no known cause or cure, and it was Jep's wish that his brain be donated to the Mayo Clinic Brain Trust for research.
Jep is survived by his wife, Valeria Porto; his children, Tonia and Jep III, and their mother, Gloria (nee Badillo); his sisters Linda Lucas and Diana (Jeff) Silva; his granddaughters, Tiffany, Caitlyn, Amber, and Summer Berry; his niece, Ashley Silva; and his nephews, Brad, Kevin, and Dewey Porter, Mark Lucas, and Andrew Silva. He was preceded in death by his parents, Jep, Sr. and Orlyne (nee Snyder), and his sister Alicia (Dewey) Porter.
Jep was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Texas. Upon graduating from W. B. Ray High School in Corpus Christi, where he was a UIL debate champion and National Merit Finalist, he declined a full scholarship to a private university in favor of the Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas. After completing a B.A. and all-but-dissertation in philosophy under his mentor, John Silber, Jep applied to the University of Texas School of Law and received his J.D. in 1974.
While in law school, Jep started a national legal research service and drafted the Texas Coastal Management Program while clerking for Land Commissioner Bob Armstrong. Following his admission to the State Bar, Jep was invited to join the South Texas firm of Kleberg, Dyer, Redford & Weil as partner-in-charge of a new Austin office, where he served as general counsel to companies specializing in groundwater protection and hazardous waste management. During the downturn of the late 1980s, Jep accepted a non-share partnership at the Austin office of Heron, Burchette, Ruckert & Rothwell, an international firm based in Washington, D.C. He left Heron Burchette in 1990, partnered briefly with a colleague, and began practicing solo in 1992. Soon recognizing the potential value of computers in a small office/home office environment, Jep started the Austin Linux Group and became one of the first attorneys in Texas to go "paperless" and practice from home. He was a contributing editor of the Texas Natural Resources Reporter and presented papers at legal and engineering conferences. His areas of practice, in state and federal courts, included administrative, environmental, and commercial litigation.
Known for his brilliant mind and sharp wit, Jep was a man of seemingly endless interests and abilities. He excelled in all subjects at school and everything he tried thereafter. He was an Eagle Scout, earned the Explorer Silver and God and Country Awards, and served as Scout Leader for his son's units. He had a photographic memory and did math in his head; he loved music from Baroque to Brazilian, played the cornet, and had a fine baritone voice. In addition to his eloquent English, Jep was fluent in Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese to the point of trading jokes with native speakers. He was a natural athlete and rugged outdoorsman, an organic gardener, and an accomplished multicultural cook. But Jep's lifelong passion was fishing, whether for redfish in the surf off Padre Island or for tuna from Royal Polaris off Southern California. In Austin, he tied his own flies, built his own rods, and fished for bass from a Boston Whaler. He especially enjoyed visiting Brazil with Valeria during low-water season with tackle in tow for side trips to the Pantanal.
A celebration of Jep's life will be announced at a later date. Friends wishing to make a donation in his name are invited to consider the Brain Support Network, PO Box 7264, Menlo Park CA 94026, or online at brainsupportnetwork.org/donate/