JOHN M. O'QUINN, dedicated and extremely successful trial lawyer, generous benefactor, and devoted friend to those who loved him, has ended his earthly journey far too soon. John's journey was always exciting because he demanded so much of himself.
Born on the 4th of September 1941, he passed away Thursday, the 29th of October 2009. John spent his professional life as a powerful advocate for the powerless - he was the courtroom champion of the ordinary person.
Recognized publicly as a legal icon, he was named one of the 100 Legal Legends of the Law by the Texas Lawyer and recognized by the National Law Journal and Harvard Law Review as one of the Best Lawyers in America, receiving four of the largest verdicts in Texas legal history.
An honors graduate of the University of Houston Law Center, he served as a Regent for the University of Houston, as well as a trustee of the UH Law School Foundation. He truly loved the UH Law School and all UH athletic activities. John used his fame and fortune to assist not only the University of Houston with the John O'Quinn Law Library and the John O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium, but also the Children's Assessment Center, the Women's Center, Baylor College of Medicine, the End Hunger Network, St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, the South Texas College of Law Advocacy Center, and so many more endeavors of equal importance.
He was a man who was determined to give back to the city, which had been so very good to him. He once said, "The only things you get to take with you are those things you give away."But despite the public persona, John O'Quinn was also a very complicated private person. He seemed as if he were a walking contradiction. Few people knew the John O'Quinn who helped so many when no one else would. Not many knew of the wonderful friendship he shared with the few people who saw this private manifestation of his generous nature. The private John O'Quinn was the first to answer the call when a friend was in need, and he was loved by his classmates at the UH Law Center. From this class developed a strong bond between John and his contemporaries - Alvin Zimmerman, Jack Raines, Al Levin, and especially this writer, Gerald Treece. He was a friend to all of us and he is already being missed more than any of us can truly express.The private John O'Quinn faced many demons. He fought them with the same zeal he approached the courtroom.
He was a proud member of the 12-Step Fellowship, a group known as the "Motley Crew." Only one woman was invited into this group, Darla Lexington, and together with these men, the group helped one another to fight the monster called alcoholism. John's friends made him stronger and he them. His sobriety was nearing eleven years. He truly loved these guys.Standing by his side was Darla Lexington, the love of his life. They shared a passion for philanthropy, the arts, and classic cars. Their dream was to build an automotive history museum in Houston and Darla intends to build that legacy in John's name. They escaped to their beautiful ranch in Wimberley, Texas whenever they could and planned to retire there. John also deeply cared for Darla's daughter, Michelle Coopwood, and referred to her as his daughter. John also leaves behind his beloved aunt, Ruth O'Quinn, and cousin, Carol O'Quinn, his extended family, as well as many dear friends.Darla, along with the guidance of Dr. Ed Young and others at Second Baptist, helped John on his journey to find his spiritual self. We can all rejoice that John found peace, and that he knows the full love of God, which is forever.A writer to the Houston Chronicle, responding to the news of John's death, wrote, "JMO was a brilliant attorney. He was a generous soul. The last samurai warrior. A real gunslinger. JMO championed the causes of the nameless and faceless individuals who did not have the means to challenge the mammoth defendants. UH has lost its son. Houston has lost its friend. The world has lost a generous soul....He loved hard work. He was a dedicated man."