Hispanic Issues Section Mourns the Passing of James W. Wray, Jr.

It was with great sadness that the members of the Hispanic Issues Section learned about the recent passing of Corpus Christi attorney James W. Wray, Jr. Mr. Wray was instrumental in creating the predecessor to the Hispanic Issues Section (then called “Concerns of the Spanish Speaking Community”) back in 1979, and has been a tremendous friend to and participant in the section ever since. We extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Wray’s family and to all of those who knew him as a colleague and a friend.

The Hispanic Issues Section recently recognized Mr. Wray’s incredible contributions to the section and to the advancement of Hispanic attorneys in Texas through the creation of the James W. Wray, Jr. Founder’s Award. The inaugural award was presented to Mr. Wray at a small ceremony last fall, and you can read more about the ceremony and award below in the news item entitled “Hispanic Issues Section Institutes James W. Wray, Jr. Founder’s Award.”
Mr. Wray’s obituary can be seen here. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, that friends make donations to the First Baptist Church of Corpus Christi, Texas or to the Baylor Law School.

In advance of the memorial, we invited some of the people who knew Mr. Wray best to offer their thoughts on Mr. Wray’s career and support of the Hispanic community.

Doug Chaves is a member of the firm Chaves, Obregon and Perales in Corpus Christi, where Mr. Wray practiced law.

Jim Wray was recognized as a Titan in the legal community. Not only were his trial skills legendary, but his code of honor was beyond reproach. If Jim gave you his handshake to consummate an agreement, you needed nothing in writing or a formal Rule 11. His word was always his bond.

But Jim was a lot more than a great trial lawyer.

I was Jim’s associate, partner, and most importantly his friend. He had a genuine desire to ensure that everyone was always treated with respect and fairness. When he got on the Board of Directors for the State Bar, he found it particularly distasteful that the Hispanic lawyers were not being allowed to participate in a meaningful way. To the disdain of many at the time, he sponsored the Hispanic Issues Section and labored to ensure that all Hispanic attorneys could have an avenue of involvement in the Bar. Jim never wavered in that commitment. Not only was he a founding member, but remained a member of Hispanic Issues Section for the next 30 plus years.

He is a man that will be missed by all.
Judge J. Manuel Bañales is a Senior Judge of the State of Texas, and worked with Mr. Wray to establish the predecessor to the Hispanic Issues Section. This is a small excerpt of Judge Bañales’ memorial to Mr. Wray, which can be read in its entirety here


Through the years, Jim Wray maintained close ties to and affection for the Section. He stepped forward to help when no one else had before. He stood up for us when no one from the State Bar Board had done so before. He spoke for us when no one else would. He was there for us whenever we called on him. If ever a Section of the State Bar were to be named for a person, without question, as I said in 1979, this Section would be known as the “James Wray Section of the State Bar of Texas.”
Jim Wray was not only a good lawyer. He was the conscience of the community. He was a true friend.

Dr. Steven Wolfson is a practicing attorney with a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Political Economics and currently is a Professor of Law and Economics at Strayer University, and got to know Mr. Wray after joining the Hispanic Issues Section in the 1990s.

I met Mr. James Wray when I joined Hispanic Issues in the early 1990s. At that time, Mr. Wray, who must have been in his late sixties or early seventies – still young – was quite the active mover and shaker in our section. Sadly, in later years, newer HIS members knew little or nothing of him; and during meetings, he tended to sit unobtrusively in the back of the room. Well I remember a few years ago during the SBOT annual meeting in Houston, I encountered Mr. Wray sitting all alone on a sofa during a meeting break. So, I seated myself next to him, we chatted, and I invited him to attend the HIS meeting with me. He did. But again in his own humble way, he sat with Judge Manny Banales unobtrusively in the back of the room. Toward the close of the meeting, the section Chair called on Mr. Wray to impart a few words of wisdom, which I guess is one advantage of advancing age, upon the section. Seizing the opportunity, Mr. Wray narrated how he, Judge Banales, and others equally dedicated, started the section over the not so easily overcome obstacles of the established Bar. Justice prevailed and the section was born. 


This I will add: As a champion of equal rights for all, Mr. James Wray was on the right side of history. May he rest in peace.

Justice Gina Benavides currently serves on the Thirteenth Court of Appeals of Texas, and is a candidate for the Texas Supreme Court.

Jim Wray personified the best values of our legal profession. He was a true advocate who fought against injustice and sought to treat all people equally regardless of their race, gender or ethnicity. I have been able to succeed in my career and profession because of Mr. Wray’s work. He will be missed and I hope to carry out his legacy.