Frederick Stapel Harless Obituary

HARLESS, JUDGE FRED S., Born July 9, 1919 in Montgomery, Alabama and passed away on Wed., March 14, 2007. Lived his teenage years in New Orleans then moved to Dallas in 1937. He enlisted in the Navy after Pearl Harbor. Went to officer’s training school in Newport Beach, R.I. First commission was on LST 362, which was an amphibious assault craft that carried tanks and troops. The first tour was the SW Pacific in Australia and New Guinea. Then on a new ship LST 682 in Europe, landing on Juno Beach, during the invasion of Normandy. Next, down through the Panama Canal to Okinawa where after the Japanese surrender; his ship was one of the first to enter Tokyo Harbor for the occupation. After the War he graduated from Southern Methodist University Law School Class of 1950. His mentors were Francis Chaney and Judge “Buck” Davenport. Started his own practice as Harless, Bailey and Youngblood. Practiced law in Dallas for 20 years until being appointed Judge of the 14th District Court in 1970, by Governor Preston Smith. Ran for reelection and was endorsed “nine to one” by the Dallas Bar Association. Elected in 1982 to the 116th District Court where he served until he retired and was assigned as a Senior District Judge in 1987. While on the bench he enjoyed mentoring to SMU Law students. Fred was known for his fairness, honesty, integrity and dedication to the bench. “Your word is your bond” He loved his country and enjoyed local and state politics. He was a member of the American, Texas and Dallas County and Inter-American Bar Associations, the American Judicature Society and the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas. Life member of the Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity. Past Master of the John L. DeGrazier Lodge. Consul of the government of Costa Rica in Dallas.

In June of 1953, The Texas Jaycees (which was large and very active after the War) invaded the national convention in Minneapolis with over 100 new Buicks the members purchased for a caravan with Big Tex in tow on a flat bed trailer. The Texas Rangers and local police along the entire journey assisted with traffic. The group had its own gasoline truck to fill them up on scheduled roadside stops. Minneapolis had never seen any thing like this group of Texans before, wearing cowboy hats, 6 shooters, chaps and western skirts!

Fred, served as a Director of the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce and was captain of the baseball team, which won many championships. He loved baseball and as a young boy was a member of the “knot-hole” gang that watched many greats including Babe Ruth. He also loved golf. Learning to play from Larry Nabholtz, professional who met him at the crack of dawn to have breakfast and teach him the game. Studying the swing from a black and white movie flip page book of Bobby Jones in motion. Fond memories of walking the 1952 US Open at Northwood CC., watching Julius Boros defeat Hogan in a 36 hole final and an 18 hole exhibition match at Lakewood CC with Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

In 1954, Ruth and Fred joined Glen Lakes Country Club where the whole family enjoyed many years of joy and friendship. Fred served as a President and assisted with the Dallas Civitan that sponsored LPGA tournaments in the early years of Mickey Wright and Kathy Whitworth. A favorite quote of Freds was from Arnold Palmer: “Golf is deceptively simple and unendingly complicated. It satisfies the soul and challenges the intellect.”

A Memorial Service will be held at 1:30 PM, Monday, March 19, 2007 at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, 9800 Preston Road, Dallas; Dr. Blair Monie officiating. Honorary Pallbearers: Judge Frank Andrews, Theodore C. Young III, Chris West, Robert J. Krusemark, Richard Chartrain and George Cowart. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Stewpot of The First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, 408 Park Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75201 or PHPC, 9800 Preston Road, Dallas, Texas 75230.

His loving wife of 60 years, Ruth Jean Wilkinson Harless, and his daughters Rexanne Harless and Stacey Leigh Feather and husband, Paul survive him and want to express their gratefulness to God for the many years of joy and happiness they had together.

Published in Dallas Morning News from Mar. 17 to Mar. 18, 2007

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