Creekmore Fath (1916–2009), known by his friends and family as Creek, was an influential figure in Texas politics. Born in Oklahoma, he grew up in Cisco and Fort Worth, Texas. He attended The University of Texas at Austin to study economics and law, where he met life-long friends Bernard Rapoport and Bob Eckhardt.
Fath and Eckhardt opened their own private practice in Austin upon graduating in 1937. A year later, Fath moved to Washington D.C. to serve in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration as general counsel for the House Select Committee investigating migration. Fath was instrumental in convincing Eleanor Roosevelt to testify before the committee. Fath also served on the Board of Economic Warfare, the Department of the Interior, and the Democratic National Committee.
Adele Hay (1917–2007) was born in New York City to Alice Appleton Hay and anthropologist Clarence Hay, son of John Hay who served as President Lincoln’s private secretary and later as U.S. Secretary of State from 1898 to 1905 under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Adele studied fine arts at Bennington College and then at the Parsons School of Design, where she had the opportunity to study in Paris. She had a lifelong love for languages and the arts.
Fath and Adele married in 1947, and they moved to Austin. For the next six decades, they contributed their time to politics, philanthropies, and art. Fath served as campaign manager for both of Sissy Farenthold’s gubernatorial runs and was a friend and colleague to other Texas political standouts such as U.S. Sen. Ralph Yarborough. The Creekmore Fath Papers are held in the Briscoe Center for American History’s Congressional and Political History Collections. Fath and Adele were avid collectors of art and books, and they held the largest private collection of Thomas Hart Benton lithographs.
Fath and Adele contributed over $10 million to The University of Texas at Austin, directly and indirectly. Most of that went to support their interests in the humanities, history, and visual arts, including the Creekmore and Adele Hay Fath Excellence Fund in American History, which provides resources for the Briscoe Center’s executive director to direct towards collecting, organizing, preserving and facilitating the use of the center’s collection for teaching and research as well as to actively cooperate with individuals and institutions having similar concerns.
“Creek generously shared his deep personal knowledge of 20th century Texas political history with the many students, faculty members, and independent scholars who requested his help over the years,” said Dr. Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “Establishing an endowment through his estate was his way of continuing his interest in, and support of, the center that he enjoyed during his lifetime.”