Last week’s prayer was on grieving.
Yesterday I grieved for the loss of a truly great man, son, husband, family patriarch, Navy man, banker, probate and estate lawyer, member of the Houston Country Club, resident of River Oaks, and dear friend. But what made Philip great to me and to so many others who celebrated his life at St. Francis Episcopal Church on Piney Point Road was his faith in God, his stewardship to the Church, and the time he took throughout his life to mentor me and countless others.
As a young attorney, there were many times I desperately needed guidance, reassurance, wisdom, and a moral compass to be the best lawyer I could be. I wanted to emulate the kind of integrity, love, and action Philip exemplified in his long life of 96 years.
When I succeeded Philip as Chancellor of St. Francis Episcopal Church, Philip gave me all of the books I needed to study to learn the Cannons and laws of the Church. He always made time to train me to be the best I could be in that role. That is what great mentors do.
After I prepared wills for a prominent St. Francis couple who were later murdered by their son in November of 1992, Philip stood by me all the way in probating their wills and administering their complicated estates. After identifying the bodies and meeting with their son before his arrest, for a time I no longer had ease in my life.
At night in order to sleep, I held an ADT panic alarm button in one hand and a crucifix in the other. Philip stepped in to take the lead role in the Probate litigation in Judge Scanlon’s Court to keep the son from inheriting from the parents he killed. Philip became a beacon of light to spare me further emotional pain.
Philip mentored me as if I was his son. He called me “Bubba” or “young man” even after I was no longer young. That was not just for my benefit. That is the way all of us were treated in Philip’s mentoring. His mentoring of us was similar to Jesus and His 12 apostles who became His disciples, who spread light, hope, and wisdom to others in their struggles, in their grieving, and in their quest to love others.
From 1999 until 2007 I officed across the hall from Philip at the Decorative Center. Beginning in 2008 Philip and I joined Gray Reed (formerly Looper Reed and Mc Graw). I can say those years together were the happiest years in my legal practice. The proximity to Philip and his greatness brought me much joy, many laughs, and ultimately God’s peace.
In 2008 Philip invited me to join his family at the Houston Country Club to celebrate the 60th Wedding Anniversary of his marriage to his beautiful bride Betty Simmons Masquelette. Like Philip, Betty was a mentor to innumerable men and women. Betty was the first woman ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Betty officed with Philip at the Decorative Center as well as at Gray Reed. The lawyers and staff knew they could always drop in, close Betty’s door and be mentored, receive a prayer, and God’s peace.
At the celebration of their 60th Wedding Anniversary on display was a picture of Betty Simmons from her high school years. She had been chosen as Houston’s Most Beautiful High School Girl. While looking at that picture as we shared a gin and tonic (the official libation of all Episcopalians), Philip reflected on the first day he saw Betty on the stairs in the Simmons home. He fell immediately in love with her and his love continued until his last breath.
As the service ended the Reverend Stuart Bates lead the Commendation of Philip into the arms of God’s mercy. At that moment my thoughts centered on the Heavenly reward earned by Philip and Betty in their service to God. For as God’s disciples, they are together in God’s perfect peace. Caressing one another in God’s everlasting loving embrace.
May we honor them. May we show our thanksgiving to them and to God by being mentors to others and being the best children of God we can be.
Knowing Philip and Betty and witnessing their mentorship to others was to know the Father of us all. For they represented God’s love in the world. Just how much do we in America need this now and forever?
God has spoken to us in Scripture about mentoring in His Kingdom.
Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will suffer harm.
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Let us pray together.
Dear God, in prayer I thank you for Philip and Betty Masquelette and all mentors in my life.
God, please help me to mentor others, to listen, to encourage, and to guide others in following God’s path in the living of their lives.
God, I rejoice in knowing that when I mentor others as Your disciple my works shine Your light and love on the world. Amen
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Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur, and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to the Bending Angel website.