In Memoriam: Creekmore Fath, 1916–2009
Creekmore Fath, circa 1960. Vertical
Files, Fath, Creekmore, CAH; di_05179.
The Center for American History pays tribute to Creekmore Fath, lawyer and political activist, who died June 25 at the age of 93.
Fath and his late wife, Adele Hay Fath, were generous and longtime supporters of the Center for American History and the University of Texas at Austin.
“We are deeply saddened by Creekmore Fath’s passing, but will always honor his legacy of civic leadership and scholarship,” said Dr. Don E. Carleton, executive director of the Center. “He was an articulate, passionate believer in the cause of democracy and the rights of the common man. Creekmore has been a longtime friend and supporter of the Center, and his dedication to the study of American political history will continue through our programs and collections.”
Fath attended Austin High School and the University of Texas law school, and began his political career during the Depression as the president of the University’s Young Democrats club. His first job in Washington, D.C., was with the Committee on Defense Migration. He was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt to the President’s Advisory Committee on the St. Lawrence Seaway and public power project, the first of a number of federal appointments. He served in the army during World War II, including an assignment with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
He returned to Austin in 1948, and ran for Lyndon B. Johnson’s vacated Congressional seat. He was aptly described in his campaign literature as “a hard worker, a friendly guy, and a fighter for the folks.” While he did not win the election, he remained highly active in the state’s Democratic Party, including campaign work on behalf of Ralph Yarborough, Frances “Sissy” Farenthold, and Bob Eckhardt, who became his law partner.
“Not only was Creekmore Fath a generous benefactor of the Center, he was also a personal friend of mine who helped me with several research projects, especially my biography of Texas oil man and University of Texas regent, J. R. Parten,” Carleton noted. “His deep personal knowledge of 20th century Texas political history was a significant resource for those of us who work in the field. He always shared that knowledge generously with the many students, faculty members, and independent scholars who requested his help over the years.”
In addition to his political and legal contributions, Fath was a noted collector of books, with more than 40,000 items in his personal library, and he massed an impressive collection of Thomas Hart Benton lithographs. His own writings included books on Yarborough and Benton.