Creekmore and Adele Hay Fath Endowments

Dec 16, 2009 | Excellence Funds & Program Support

Creekmore Fath grew up in Cisco and Fort Worth, Texas before moving to Austin in 1931. In 1933, he graduated from Austin High School, where his debate partner was John Henry Faulk. He attended The University of Texas College of Liberal Arts and the School of Law. At UT, he was in the select group of students mentored by renowned economics professor Dr. Bob Montgomery. He was licensed to practice law in 1939 and opened an Austin practice with future US Congressman Bob Eckhardt and future District Judge Mace Thurman.

Creekmore Fath

In September 1940, he moved to Washington, DC to serve as Acting Counsel to the US House of Representatives Tolan Committee’s Special Committee to Investigate the Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens. Next, he served as Counsel to the Special Committee to Investigate National Defense Migration. He then served as Counsel to the President’s Advisory Commission on the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project.

Creekmore  became General Counsel to the US Senate Committee on Patents in 1942, investigating German cartels with ties to American corporations. His work there attracted the attention of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who on June 14, 1943 called Creekmore to the White House for advice concerning American Cyanamid’s trade contract with Mexico. He then became Assistant General Counsel of the Board of Economic Warfare (where Dr. Montgomery served during WWII).

In 1943, Creekmore was drafted into the US Army and later assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). For the remainder of  WWII he was involved in sending coded messages from the President to commanders and allies in the field. In 1945 he became Associate General Counsel of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion. On April 15, 1946, he became Special Assistant to Secretary of the Interior J. A. (Cap) Krug.

On February 15, 1947, he resigned from the Department of Interior to become Executive Assistant to Executive Director Gael Sullivan of the Democratic National Committee. On April 25 of that year, he married Adele Hay Byrne, daughter of Clarence and Alice Appleton Hay and granddaughter of John Hay, aide to President Lincoln and later US Secretary of State.

Adele was well-traveled and had a lively interest in foreign affairs born of life experience. She lived in Latin America with her first husband and became fluent in Spanish.  In her college years, as a student of fine arts, Adele lived in Paris, perfecting her French and building a lifelong appreciation of French culture. In later years Adele read and recorded for the blind in English and in French, and joined in the weekly Latin American Roundtable at UT.  

Creekmore resigned the DNC post so that he and Adele could move to Austin. On September 1, 1947, Creekmore opened an office in the Littlefield Building where he practiced law and became active in Texas Democratic politics. In 1948, he made an unsuccessful run for US Congress as an FDR Democrat.

On March 24, 1949, Austin Mayor Tom Miller and Democratic Party Vice-Chairman Creekmore Fath organized a large Party dinner and fundraiser with House Speaker Sam Rayburn as principal speaker. They later co-chaired Adlai Stevenson’s Texas campaigns. During the Fifties, Creekmore and Frankie Randolph, among others, organized the Democrats of Texas and were the liberal opposition to Allan Shivers, Lyndon Johnson and John Connally’s rule of the Texas Democratic Party.

In 1960, Creekmore was again in Washington, as Counsel to the Senate Commerce Committee’s freedom of information sub-committee, which acted as a watchdog over the broadcast industry’s requirements to give equal time to political candidates. This sub-committee later published the complete text of the Kennedy-Nixon debates.

Creekmore was an active ally and advisor of Ralph Yarborough during his campaigns for Governor and US Senate. In 1968, he was Treasurer of the Don Yarbrough Gubernatorial Campaign. On December 15, 1970, he served as general chairman and toastmaster for a Texas Appreciation Dinner honoring Senator Yarborough. In 1972 and 1974, Fath helmed gubernatorial primary campaigns for Frances “Sissy” Farenthold. In her 1972 run, Farenthold surprisingly outpaced then-Gov. Preston Smith and his Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, making a runoff against Dolph Briscoe, who ultimately prevailed. 

An ardent collector, Creekmore compiled and edited The University of Texas Press editions of “The Lithographs of Thomas Hart Benton” in 1969, 1979, and 1990. He owned the most complete private collection of Benton lithographs, exhibited at several museums and galleries. Adele’s art collection was similarly exhibited and admired.

Creekmore was a long-time member of the Liberal Arts Foundation Advisory Council at the University of Texas. In 2002, he and two professors received Pro Bene Meritis awards from the College of Liberal Arts. In 2001, he and Adele donated approximately $12 million to the University of Texas. They were generous donors to political campaigns and to a number of non-profits. Adele was known for her work with Democratic and civil liberty causes.

Creekmore and Adele Hay Fath throughout their lives were vigorously committed to policies and action that could change and improve life in Texas and in the world, nor just during their lifetimes. To  future UT students, they left gifts of support that can make dreams possible, namely the Creekmore and Adele Hay Fath Excellence Fund in Humanities Resources, the Creekmore and Adele Hay Fath Excellence Fund in Foreign Language Study, and the Creekmore and Adele Hay Fath Excellence Fund in American History Resources. Their legacies are assured for generations to come.

 

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