Bill Jefferson died on June 26 at the age of 81. His military job took him and his young family all over the United States during the late 1950s and early 1960s, during a time of racial segregation. Yet the enlisted man excelled in the military, where “arbitrary classifications were banished; merit prevailed” according to a notice posted on the Texas Supreme Court’s website.
In 1968, Bill Jefferson wrote a letter to Time magazine in which he praised the “unsurpassed accomplishments” of the civil rights movement, but observed that the U.S. Constitution is a document written for all citizens that “imparts responsibilities as well as rights.”
After his retirement from the military, Bill Jefferson later became an insurance underwriter and financial planner who volunteered for decades with the Salvation Army.
It was Bill Jefferson’s interest in genealogy which led to often-mentioned historical revelation about his family.
“He discovered in the late 1980s that he was the descendant of a Waco slave, Shedrick Willis, whose owner was a state court judge. Bill marveled in the irony that his son, Wallace B. Jefferson, is now chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas,” the notice states.
Lamont Jefferson, the administrative partner for the San Antonio office of Haynes and Boone, says his father was a simple man who was devoted to his wife and “influenced by example.”
“And he wasn’t all that expressive, frankly. But, everything about his stature commanded respect. From his posture to his slow delivery of speech, he didn’t give much instruction, but he delivered a message so powerfully it was hard to miss,” Lamont Jefferson says.
And when his children could afford to take him out to fancy dinners, that’s not what their dad wanted, Lamont Jefferson says.
“What he wanted was to go to Bill Miller Bar-B-Q and eat chocolate. Give him Bill Miller Bar-B-Q and chocolate, and he was a happy man.”
Wallace Jefferson was not available for comment.
Visitation will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday at Porter Loring Mortuary at 2102 North Loop 1604 East in San Antonio.
A funeral Mass will be at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday at the San Fernando Cathedral, 115 Main Plaza in downtown San Antonio.
A full military burial is scheduled at 1:45 p.m. at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
— John Council