Zollie Coffer Steakley

Texas Supreme Court Justice, 1929

Zollie Coffer Steakley was born in Rotan, Texas. Following graduation from De Leon High School in 1926, he entered Simmons University where he became known as an outstanding orator and debater. In 1929, he received his Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude. Following his graduation, Zollie Steakley moved to Austin and enrolled in University of Texas. He graduated with his Doctor of Jurisprudence, summa cum laude, in 1932. In 1939, he married Leona Ruth Butler.

Steakley settled in Sweetwater and began his law practice. In 1939 he returned to Austin, this time as the Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas. From 1942 to 1945 Steakley served as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy. Following his discharge, in 1946, he opened a private law practice in Austin. From 1957 until 1961, Steakley served as Secretary of State for Texas.

In January of 1961, Zollie Steakley was elected as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas. He served in that capacity for the next 20 years. After his retirement in 1981 at the age of 72, he served as a consultant in the Attorney General’s Office until his death in 1992.

Both Hardin-Simmons University and the University of Corpus Christi (now Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi) bestowed the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Judge Steakley in 1959. He was again honored by HSU in 1977 when he was named as a Distinguished Alumnus. Judge Steakley served on the Board of Trustees of Hardin-Simmons University for 18 years.

Judge Steakley was a committed member of the First Baptist Church of Austin, and for forty-two years was the teacher of a radio Bible class. He served ten years as a member of the Christian Education Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and was the Chairman of the Commission for two years.

Judge Steakley was a past President of the Austin Lions Club and a past District Governor of Lions International. He served as a director of the United Fund of Austin and as a member of the Executive Board of the Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He was a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas. Zollie Steakley was often called upon to speak to civic and church organizations and in those addresses he consistently stressed that “men and women of good will, Christians especially, should assert themselves in the councils and deliberations of government.”