Acclaimed lawyer, judge, beloved father, and devoted husband, William (Bill) Ryle Edwards Jr. passed away on Monday, March 13th surrounded by family in Corpus Christi, Texas. To know Bill was to love and respect Bill. The mere mention of any Bill Edwards story to someone who did not have the pleasure of his company and counsel, certainly comes across as a grandiose embellishment of life, and it was clear they would be right. Bill was a true and unique giant living life to the absolute fullest.
He is survived by his wife, Sally Lander of Victoria, children, Terry Baiamonte (Rob); Margaret “Libby” Edwards Pender (Frank); William R. “Billy” Edwards III (Paula) and Dr. Margaret Lander Rising, PhD; grandchildren, Lander Beck Baiamonte, Benjamin Scott Baiamonte (Caroline) ; Stewart Randall Mann (Carrie), William Price Salem, William R. “Ryle” Edwards IV, John A. “Alex” Edwards, Jack Edwards Rising and Linn Edwards Rising, and great grandchildren, Conlee Stewart Mann and Everett Ames Mann. He is predeceased by his parents, William Ryle Edwards and Catherine Gilchrist Edwards, his brother, Jack Edwards, and his grandson, Joseph John Salem, III. All four of his children are members of the State Bar of Texas.
Bill met his “Salleeee” at Mary Baldwin College, in Virginia, and married her in Texas. Lifelong partners, for 65 years, they did everything together. They fished, hunted, scuba dived, ranched, did California/Utah cross country bike trips, fished in Alaska, showed Bull Terrier dogs, and fell in love, over and over again in Hawaii.
Bill was born in Jersey City, New Jersey on August 25, 1931. He grew up in Virginia and graduated from Staunton Military Academy. He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in political science and J.D. degree from the University of Virginia. Bill was a college diving star, winning the Virginia title for low-board diving and the AAU state championship for high-board diving. His college work was interrupted in 1953 by service in the U.S. Army; he served at Fort Monroe, Virginia as 1st Lieutenant.
Bill moved to Texas to pursue his legal career [“I like to hunt and fish and there’s a lot of it here”]. He passed his bar examination in 1958 having accepted a position with Baker and Botts of Houston in the firm’s tax department. However, just a year later, Bill moved to Corpus Christi and two years later started his own law firm. He grew his practice into one of the most well-known personal injury law firms in Texas. His verdicts set records and along the way he helped change the law under which injured people are compensated. His political activism was broad but included increased compensation for injured workers , elimination of poll tax, inclusion of Mexican Americans in the jury pool, busing of students for equal educational opportunities, penalties for barratry and consumer protection.
On January 15, 1963, he was appointed as a special probate judge in the Sarita Kennedy East will contest, an appointment that would last seven years.
Bill’s big, boisterous laugh could make anyone feel like part of his inner circle. And everyone wanted to be a part of that circle. Bill had friends and colleagues throughout the country. He was part of Phi Alpha Delta, Phi Beta Kappa, and Order of the Coif fraternities. He was President of Texas Trial Lawyers Association in 1968 and was on the Board of Governors for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. He was a member of ABOTA and a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He received honors and accolades throughout his tenure.
Bill was committed to “what was right”, but never failed to enjoy the little luxuries in life. If he wasn’t working, he was appreciating the Texas nature. Bill was a hand ball player, avid fisherman, hunter, gardener, and rancher.
Funeral services are at Seaside Funeral Home in Corpus Christi, TX, March 23, 2023. Viewing at 12:30pm; Funeral at 1:30pm; Internment at 2:30pm and Celebration of Life at The Courtyard at Gaslight Square at 4:00pm.
In lieu of flowers the family request donations be made to the Sierra Club Lonestar Chapter. You may Donate Online Here
To send flowers to the family, please visit our floral store.