Law School lecturer dies at 64
An adjunct professor for the UH Law Center who became the first African American woman to serve on the First Court of Appeals in Texas, died Friday at 64.
Gaynelle Griffin Jones died at her home in Houston after battling cancer for several years, said her daughter, Athena Jones.
“She was very impressible and energetic,” said Jones, a correspondent for CNN. “She loved to work on new projects and travel, from building gingerbread houses with her grandson to planning trips to Egypt, Ghana and South Africa.”
Born Nov. 20, 1948 in Dallas, Griffin was the second child of Marvin and Lois Griffin. She graduated from A. J. Moore High School in Waco. She received a scholarship to Emerson College in Boston and earned a degree in history. She then received a full scholarship to attend Boston College Law School, where her 40-year legal career began.
Griffin was appointed by the Texas governor to serve on the First Court of Appeals. Former President Bill Clinton named her United States Attorney for the Southern District in Texas in 1993, making her the first African-American woman appointed to the position.
Griffin taught trial advocacy at the UH Law Center and contributed legal services to the poor, criminal law, corporate law and private practices in Louisiana, Massachusetts and Texas.
Griffin loved to stay involved and volunteer her service, Jones said.
She was a senior fellow as the Center for Houston’s Future and the American Leadership Forum, and she served on the board of the Houston Area Women’s Center; the Phoenix House of Texas, a teenage drug treatment program; and Cate School.
She was devoted to church since she was 7-years-old and was a member of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, where she was a deaconess who mentored teenage girls and taught discipleship training.
Jones received many awards and honors for her achievements, including the Sarah Hughes Outstanding Achievement Award from the State Bar of Texas Women’s Section, the Bessie Coleman Trailblazer Award and the Star of Achievement Award.
She was active in the Houston Bar Association as co-chair of the minority opportunities committee and was a frequent lecturer at professional seminars and programs.
The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Wheeler Avenue Baptist. Final arrangements will be entrusted to Johnson Funeral Home.