JOHN TRAVIS EDWARDS, former Pawhuska resident and prominent Oklahoma City attorney, who was instrumental in advocating for a number of now-recognized theories of law in Oklahoma, died Sunday at his home in Oklahoma City. He was 85.
Mr. Edwards was born February 22, 1927 to Mabel Rogers Leahy Edwards and Richard Travis Edwards. He was a member of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma. John grew up on Main Street and spent many a day riding down Flannigan Hill, first on a bike, and later in a car. Sometimes, the Hill won, and young John ended up crashed into a police car, or in a ditch after a tire took leave of the Model “A” he was in about halfway down. Such were a few of the many tales of life in the Osage when every day was an adventure and life focused on family and friends.
After graduation from Pawhuska High School, “Trav” attended the University of Oklahoma where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. The bonds formed with others during those years remain to this day. In his senior year, he began the study of law, graduated from the University of Oklahoma School of Law in 1951, and was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar that year. He practiced law in Oklahoma City with Sam Gill and Harold Land for approximately eight years before joining the firm of Monnet, Hayes, Bullis, Grubb & Thompson, now Monnet, Hayes, Bullis, Thompson & Edwards. He served as senior partner of the firm from the mid 1980s until his retirement in 2011.
Mr. Edwards was a trial lawyer who practiced in the Oklahoma Courts for over 60 years. He worked with many other longstanding attorneys during his career and mentored a number of young lawyers. His philosophy on litigation centered around well-reasoned advocacy and honest counsel, civility and respect. He helped develop Oklahoma law in many areas, most notably the fiduciary duty owed to mineral owners by oil and gas well operators and the tort of abusing court process. He represented clients on both plaintiff and defense sides, and maintained many professional and personal relationships that began through his practice. His skill as a courtroom attorney led to his induction into the American College of Trial Lawyers, a national association of trial masters.
Mr. Edwards was a member of the American, Oklahoma and Oklahoma County Bar Associations, a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a fellow of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation and a founding member and former President of the Robert J. Turner American Inn of Court. He was admitted to practice in the Federal Courts in Oklahoma, the Eastern District of Arkansas, and before the United States Supreme Court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church where he served as an Elder and on the Board of Trustees. He was a member of the Committee of 100 and served on the Board of Directors and as President of The Beacon Club. He was a member of Quail Creek Golf and Country Club and a longtime member and supporter of the Oklahoma Zoological Society.
Mr. Edwards possessed a keen wit and a sharp mind, which allowed him to bring “a little levity” to many situations. He never mastered the game of golf, but played most weekends for years with friends and did manage two holes-in-one. He enjoyed music and cinema, particularly westerns, liked sports cars and sporting events, was an excellent barbecue cook, and avid University of Oklahoma football and women’s basketball fan. He liked to travel, and fished annually with friends at his camp on Rainy Lake, Canada. He played bridge throughout his entire adult life, beginning play in college with fraternity brothers and continuing with colleagues at tournaments. Daylong Saturday sessions at his residence always included one of his unique meats. Later, he maintained his game through on-line bridge, which he played every day until just before his death. His second place finish in an online tournament held April 13, 2012 is a testament to his dedication to the game. He was a Bronze Life Master.
Mr. Edwards maintained close life-long relationships and had many friends. His ties to the Osage remained long after he no longer lived there. His family allotment near Barnsdall, and the places of his youth were very special to him. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Janet, and his daughters Shannon Edwards of Edmond, Okla., and Holly Edwards of St. Petersburg, Fla., as well as cousins Cora Jean Jech, Pat Carr and families. He is preceded in death by his sister, Sybil Ann (Sister Maria) Edwards and his parents. A celebration of his life will be held on Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4400 N. Shartel Ave., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.