George Day '52 December 21, 2016 12:53 PM updated: December 21, 2016 1:09 PM
(Published in) Brownwood Bulletin (on) December 12, 2016
[Photo from http://www.heartlandfuneralhome.net/]
George Allen Day
George Allen Day, a patriot, prominent lawyer, public servant, civic leader and son of a Brown County pioneer family passed away on Dec. 11, 2016. He was born in Brown County on May 28, 1928, to William J. Day and Gladys Louise (Tiny) Stuteville Day. Three brothers, Billy Floyd Day, James Milton Day, and Tommy Joe Day, preceded him in death. One brother, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Dr. James Milton Day of El Paso, Texas, served as the Director of the Texas Archives in Austin in the 1960s, and taught English and History at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Day graduated from Brownwood High School in 1947. He often said that the only ambition that he ever had was to play first string for the Brownwood Lion football team.
He achieved this ambition in 1946, playing center and linebacker. He was proud of the two letters that he earned in track, running the mile, his basketball letters under Coach Slim Warren, and his two football letters.
He attended Daniel Baker for one year, earning letters in football and basketball. He graduated from John Tarleton Agricultural College in 1950, where he was a member of its Golden Gloves boxing team as an open heavy weight. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from Texas A&M College in 1952. A member of the ROTC, Day was awarded a Distinguished Military Certificate and a shiny Second Lieutenant's bar, which entitled him to serve on line with the 45th Infantry Division, in the Korean War. He was awarded two battle stars.
After returning from Korea in 1954, he entered the University of Texas Law School at Austin, where he earned a Doctor of Laws degree and a law license on Dec. 7, 1956.
While in law school, "Uncle" Bill Chambers, the then Brown County State Representative, secured him a job in the Texas House of Representatives as one of five assistant sergeant at arms (1955-1957), a really eye opening job.
His experience working in the Texas House for Speaker Jim Lindsey enabled him to become confident of then Senator, later Governor Price Daniel, Congressman Jack Pirkle, then Senator Lyndon Johnson and U.S. House Speaker Sam Rayburn, and gave him a keen sense about politics.
His fellow prosecutors honored him by naming him to the Board of Directors of the Texas County and District Attorney's Association in 1965 for four years.
He sponsored many of the political leaders of his time. Starting with Ben Sudderth in 1956, then Ben Barnes in 1960, followed by his future law partner, Lynn Nabers in 1968, his hand could be seen in the election of early Texas House members from Brown County from 1956 to 1984.
A close associate of Bob Bullock, he gave him his first one thousand dollars to run for State Comptroller.
On Jan. 30, 1957, he was appointed County Attorney of Somervell (Glen Rose) County. Once elected (two year terms) he left this position on Dec. 31, 1959 to move to Brownwood. On Jan. 1, 1960, he was appointed County Attorney of Brown County, a post that he held until Jan. 1, 1969, when the voters of Brown, Coleman, and McCulloch Counties elected him to the office of District Attorney, where he tried five celebrated murder cases.
In 1973 he retired to the private practice of law, building the largest law practice in Central Texas, covering half of a City block, employing 18 people. For a span of 35 years, he participated in every important trial in Brown County.
He served as a director of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association for 20 years (1964-1984), founding Texas' first political action committee named Lawyers Involved for Texas (LIFT) in 1965.
Day was a lifelong Baptist, beginning at the Belle Plain Baptist Church in 1938, and then the First Baptist Church in 1960. He taught the high school senior boys class of 17 years, coached church basketball teams, and served as Sunday School Superintendent for five years.
He assisted Dick Alexander in funding a Brown County Children's Milk Fund in the 1960s prior to the state and federal entry into this field.
Mason, Scottish Rite and Suez Temple members recall his successful run for the "Ring" as Justice George in 1962. At Kiwanis Pancake Suppers, he worked the slop and trash
Bennie Houston coached his Buy Rite Shoe Store Little League Baseball Team. The Shoe Store gave shoes to the needy children.
"Chock" Wetzel served as one of his Scoutmasters. He earned the Eagle Scout Badge, was awarded the Order of the Arrow, was an assistant Scoutmaster, and annual financial supporter of the Scout program.
Howard Payne College tapped him to serve six years on its Board of Trustees. He served on the Brown County Council on Alcoholism.
In 1964, Day was one of fifty prosecutors invited to a weeklong seminar in Atlanta sponsored by the U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy. It's purpose was to educate the prosecutors about his War on Organized Crime. Part of the program explained the inner working of the Mafia - The Don or Godfather and the Capo - and about extortion. Not long after, Groner Pitts came charging in demanding money for one of his civic projects. I accused him of being a Capo and extortionist - out gathering money, or else.
That day, those two organized the Brownwood Mafia with Day as the Godfather and Pitts as the Capo. Membership certificates for outsiders only were created. Its purpose is to fleece Brownwood business men of funds for civic projects.
Day was a businessman. Day related business employed over 300 people at times. He vigorously supported development of water resources and use. He was a waterman. As City Attorney at Early in 1962, he directed the formation of that City's first water system. Working with the Brown County Water Improvement District No. One, and with the assistance of Levi Old, he founded the Brookesmith, Zephyr and May rural water supply systems in the 1960s.
He was a founder of the Brownwood Industrial Foundation that purchased the Camp Bowie Cantonment area, assisted in securing 3M, Superior Cable and Phillips 66 Pipe plants. He formed the original County hospital now knows as the Brownwood Regional Medical Center.
Day was a patriot, His military career began in 1948 at North Fort Hood as a private in Captain Garvin's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. He left the Guard in 1952 when he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps. He was called to active duty on July 10, 1952, training at Fort Sam Houston, then Fort Lee, Virginia, then shipped to Korea, and became a member of the 45th Infantry Division on line and was present when the Armistice was declared. After his release from active duty he chose to remain in the active Army reserve.
After he received his law degree, he switched to Judge Advocate General's Corp. He received advanced law training at the University of Virginia Law School at Charlottesville, Virginia. He served stints at fourteen posts in the United States and one in Hawaii.
He graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, the Intelligence School at Fort Holabird, Maryland, and the National Security College at Fort Myers. He was attached to the JAG in the Pentagon for two years, then served with the U.S. Army Claims Service at Fort Meade, Maryland, where his career of 32 years ended with his retirement with the rank of Colonel on May 30, 1980.
Day, Melvin Stovall, and County Judge Bryan Healer joined together to assist Herman Bennett in building the 1976 Brown County Jail on Houston street.
In 1983, he saved commercial air travel for his native city of Brownwood by securing legislation to support Brownwood's air service financially under the Air Service Program. Day's longtime family friend, Congressman Jim Wright of Fort Worth, assisted in getting this work approved by the Department of Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole.
None of Day's ancestors were immigrants. All 32 lived in the now United States in 1789. Day, and his father were born in Brown County. His grandfather came to the county in 1875 at age 1. His great-grandfather, William Johnson Day, first gathered longhorns in the county in 1851 to sell to the army at Fort Phantom Hill, brought his family to the county in 1875 and as a Master Mason served in Lodge 279 from 1877 until his death in 1898. He participated in the Masonic Ceremony in laying the cornerstone for the first county courthouse in 1884.
Fraternal and maternal ancestors fought in the American Revolution. His mother's ancestors, the Coles and the Evetts, joined Stephen Austin's colony in Texas in 1824. James Stuteville came down from Kentucky in 1836 in time to be a private in the Republic of Texas army. Seven ancestors fought in the American Revolution, three in the Texas Revolution. One ancestor, part-Cherokee, a part Choctaw and a lot of English was killed in 1862 at the Battle of Pea Ridge in northwest Arkansas, in the "War of Northern Aggression."
Day is survived by wife Shirley Ann Campbell Day. They were married on Dec. 21, 1951 at Jones Baptist Chapel. He is also survived by his son Rance Allen Day, of Brownwood; five grandchildren, Douglas, Ciarra, Shaun and Kylee Day, all of Brownwood, and Joshua Smith and his wife, Andrea Smith of Austin; and nine great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by three children, daughters Linda DiAnn Day Morgan and Gloria Jan Day, and a son, Glenn Allen Day; as well as one great-grandson, Peyton Smith.
Day's service will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016 at Jenkins Springs Cemetery . He will join his ancestors with burial in the family plot, started in 1882, after the singing of Amazing Grace.
"Bless the teachers," "help the children," "support your church" and "to thine own self be true" are words of wisdom he leaves.
Online condolences may be left for the family at www.heartlandfuneralhome.net.