Judge Royal Hart, legendary Texas District Judge, who valiantly served a lifetime in Texas courtrooms upholding justice and fervently seeking fairness for all, was called to God's eternal court on May 29, 2013. He was 88. Ira Royal Hart was born on Independence Day, July 4, 1924 to Myrtle Curry and Ira Hart in Miles, Texas. The doctor was celebrating the holiday, so Mrs. Williams, a neighbor, saved his life by delivering him in his parent's home. He was named in honor of his grandfather, Royal Hart. Royal's father, Ira, was a rancher and successful businessman. Unfortunately, he died when Royal was only 14 years old. His mother,...
Judge Royal Hart, legendary Texas District Judge, who valiantly served a lifetime in Texas courtrooms upholding justice and fervently seeking fairness for all, was called to God's eternal court on May 29, 2013. He was 88. Ira Royal Hart was born on Independence Day, July 4, 1924 to Myrtle Curry and Ira Hart in Miles, Texas. The doctor was celebrating the holiday, so Mrs. Williams, a neighbor, saved his life by delivering him in his parent's home. He was named in honor of his grandfather, Royal Hart. Royal's father, Ira, was a rancher and successful businessman. Unfortunately, he died when Royal was only 14 years old. His mother, Myrtle attended summer classes to obtain a teaching degree. When the male school teachers were drafted during World War II, she was promoted to Superintendent of Miles School District. She was also a true pioneer, who cultivated the family's land and Royal continued as a faithful steward.
With a mother like Myrtle, it was destiny that Royal attend college after he graduated as Valedictorian from Miles High School. He attended Southwestern University and shortly thereafter was drafted into the Army's 99th Infantry. While preparing for the "Battle of the Bulge," his legs and feet were severely frozen in Belgium. Following 3 strenuous months in a hospital in England, he resumed full military duties. His education: Admitted to Bar, 1949; Preparatory and Legal Education, University of Texas (B.B.A., 1948; J. D., 1950), was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude; New York University (M.A. 1950).
From 1951 through 1953, he served as a Federal Attorney, in the Corporation Finance Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Royal was honored that Senator Lyndon B. Johnson wrote his Letter of Recommendation. While at the SEC, he heard his fellow employees counting the days to retirement: that was not the path he wanted to follow. He said, "My feet were under the desk and my voice wasn't being heard, so I went back to San Angelo and started a private practice." His career: Private Practice, 1953-1964; District Attorney, 119th Judicial District, 1965-1982; Founding Member of the Texas District and County Attorneys' Association; Director, Texas District and County Attorneys' Association, 1977-1978; District Judge, 51st Judicial District, 1982-1992; Senior District Judge, 1992-2009. At 85, Senior District Judge Royal Hart put the gavel down and hung up his robe for the last time.
Royal was introduced to Virginia Windedahl by a UT Law School classmate. They were married on her parents' 28th Wedding Anniversary on January 20, 1956 at Trinity Lutheran Church by Pastor Glen Kollmeyer. They have three daughters: Sheryl Lynn, Linda Dahl and Kristi Lena. As a husband and father, he found joy and brought joy to Virginia and their daughters each day. He always said, "I make the living and they make the living worthwhile." He reveled in family life, was an acclaimed storyteller and the family comedian. He made sure they understood each day was a gift from God and like Don Quixote, encouraged them to "dream the impossible dream".
He is survived by his wife, Virginia. Daughter, Sheryl Hart Garza and son-in-law, Armando Garza of Spring Branch, TX; grandson, Rob Norman of Bergheim, TX; granddaughter, Amanda Jones, grand son-in-law, Mike Jones, great-grandtwins, Ashton and Preston of San Antonio, TX. Daughter, Linda Hart Garrahan and son-in-law, Rick Garrahan of San Antonio, TX; granddaughter, Sarah Garrahan of Durham, NC. Daughter, Kristi Hart of San Antonio, TX; and, grandson, Kristopher Phillips of Austin, TX. Sister, Iralene and brother-in-law, Joe Ventrello of Warren, TX. Also, numerous extended family members.
He was preceded in death by: his parents, Ira and Myrtle Curry Hart; his sister, Dorothy and brother-in-law, Bernard Howard; his in-laws, Gladys and Ernest Windedahl; his brother-in-law, James Windedahl; and, his grandson, Reed Hart Norman.
Pallbearers are Judge Tom Gossett, Gerald Fohn, Bill Elliott, Monte Montgomery, Mickey Englert, Keith Davis, Roy Vick and Jerry Johnson. Honorary Pallbearers are Dick Burnett, Bill Lockett, Glenn Cunningham, L.D. Whittle, David Penick, George Muery, Allan Rowoldt and Grady Oates.
Visitation will be held from 6-8 pm, Saturday, June 1st at Johnson's Funeral Home, 435 W. Beauregard, San Angelo, Texas. The funeral will be on Sunday, June 2nd at 3 pm at Trinity Lutheran Church, 3536 YMCA Drive, San Angelo, Texas. The service will be conducted by Pastor Robert Budewig and Pastor Randall Wehmeyer of Trinity Lutheran Church. The eulogy will be given by Gerald Fohn. Music provided by Dorothy Douthit, Patti Wetzel and Kathy Madsen. The graveside service in Miles, TX will be conducted by Pastor Gary Karschner of Miles Methodist Church. On behalf of Judge Royal Hart's family, thank you for being a part of his life.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to: Trinity Lutheran School - 3536 YMCA Drive, San Angelo, TX 76904; or, Miles Cemetery Association - PO Box 66, Miles, TX 76861; or, Miles Methodist Church - PO Box 205, Miles, TX 76861.
As one of his peers said, "The reason the judicial system works in San Angelo today, is because of Judge Hart". Another peer commented, "He was a national treasure."
The Measure of Man
Not - "How did he die?" But - "How did he live?"
Not - "What did he gain?" But - "What did he give?"
Not - "What was his station?" But - "Had he a heart?"
And - "How did he play his God-given part?"
Not - "What was his shrine?" Nor - "What was his creed?"
But - "Had he befriended those really in need?"
Not - "What did the sketch in the newspaper say?"
But - "How many were sorry when he passed away?"
Was he ever ready with a word of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.