Honorable John G. Hyde
District Judge and Community Leader
John Hyde was born to John Edmund and Eunice Perdue Hyde on May 30, 1942, in Abilene, Texas. He lived his youth in Abilene where he enjoyed participating in Boy Scouts of America and serving others through the Royal Ambassadors of the Second Baptist Church. John attended Abilene High School and there he developed a skill for debate. He graduated as an AHS Eagle in 1960.
John entered Hardin-Simmons University in the fall of 1960 and while at HSU he participated in Varsity Debate, Pi Kappa Delta, Pi Gamma Mu and was also a member of the singing group, The Yeomen. It was as a student under Dr. Richard Kim that John developed a lifelong passion for learning and cultivated an insatiable sense of curiosity. Following completion of his bachelor’s degree in the field of Political Science in 1964, John was accepted into the law school at the University of Texas. John went on to earn a Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1967.
During his final year of law school, John received his draft notice. He spent two years in active military service including a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam in 1969.
Upon leaving the military, John settled in Midland, Texas in 1970 at the age of twenty-eight and began work as an attorney for the City of Midland. It was during a 1972 trial that he met a young juror who would later become his wife. Following a whirlwind romance, Sharon Smith and John Hyde were married in 1973.
Taking a step of faith, John left City Hall in 1975 and entered into private practice beginning the new law firm of Freeman, Hyde and Martin. He would spend fourteen years practicing criminal, civil and family law while continually increasing his knowledge in law and refining his courtroom skills. In 1989, John Hyde fulfilled a life-long dream when he ran for and was elected District Judge of the 238th District Court in Midland, Texas. He would serve in that capacity for the next twenty-two years upholding the law while serving as a paragon of respect, dignity and fairness to all who entered into his courtroom. Judge Hyde was known throughout the courthouse for his open door policy, his availability and his wise counsel.
Judge Hyde presided over three capital murder cases during his years on the bench. Additionally, he navigated through one of the most complex civil cases in the history of the district, establishing precedent on many of the issues. As a dedicated student of the law and its application, he rarely had a case reversed.
Outside of his profession in law, John Hyde maintained a passion for the local history of Midland County and for the recording and retelling of its storied past. With an enviable eloquence and wit, he wrote and spoke of the area history, humorously taking his readers and listeners back to the early days and lessons of the community’s founding. His efforts to keep the history of Midland and Midland County alive, earned him an even wider swath of community respect.
By his actions John Hyde showed the true meaning of living a Christian life. For more than twenty years, he taught Sunday School at the First Baptist Church in Midland. From 2002 to 2011 he faithfully served as a member of the HSU Board of Trustees. With a reputation for always putting others before himself, John exemplified the traits of kindness, thoughtfulness, and as one who worked tirelessly for his community.
John Hyde served his fellow Texans as a lawyer, judge, and legal scholar. Through his passion for regional history, he served the people of Midland County by researching, recording and reminding them of those who built their community. And, as a model of dignity and respect, John Hyde was the strength and foundation for his family, including his two daughters, Whitney Hyde and Hillary Hyde Lovell.
Following a two-year battle with cancer, John Hyde died in Midland on January 2, 2012 at the age of sixty-nine.
Today, it is a high honor for Hardin-Simmons University to recognize a life well-lived, to honor one of her own, and to posthumously induct the Honorable Judge John G. Hyde into the Hall of Leaders.