Attorney and writer Maury Maverick, Jr., died Tuesday at the age of 82.
SAN ANTONIO — Attorney Maury Maverick Jr., a descendant of early Texas settlers and known for his passionate legal defense of the downtrodden, feisty wit and unrelenting opposition to war, died of kidney cancer Tuesday at the age of 82.
In recent years, many knew Maverick as a cantankerous Sunday columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, where he penned more than 1,000 columns — the last on Jan. 5.
But San Antonians who lived through the end of segregation in the 1950s, the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and the end of the Vietnam War in the 1970s recalled him as a giant of his time who made a mark as a rebellious state lawmaker and a flamboyant lawyer for liberal causes.
Never a wealthy man, Maverick did have a rich family history. His father was a congressman and mayor and his great-grandfather was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836. Another ancestor perished in the Boston Massacre. The family’s history is so colorful, its name was converted into a common English expression dating to the 1870s that, according to Webster’s Dictionary, means “an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party.”
Born Jan. 3, 1921, Maverick as a youth had a front-row seat for the making of San Antonio history. His father presided as mayor during construction of the city’s famed River Walk, and in 1939 he saw his father deal with rioting that ensued when he allowed Communist Party members to meet in Municipal Auditorium.
A few years later during World War II, wearing the uniform of the U.S. Marine Corps, Maverick was fighting his own battles on the Solomon Islands. Returning from military service, he earned a law degree from St. Mary’s University in 1949. Working without pay, he gradually became an outspoken lawyer for hundreds of disenfranchised individuals and groups.
In his final column published earlier this month, Maverick pondered the legitimacy of a possible war with Iraq, saying “why, for some 60 years since World War II, have we the people tolerated a non-declaration of war? Patriotism includes showing a proper respect for the professional military. Members of the military cannot speak up. We civilians must,” he said.
They don’t make ’em like that any more. Rest in peace, Maury.