John R. Leathers, August 20, 2019
BIOGRAPHY – JOHN R. LEATHERS
After we graduated in 1964, I attended college at the University of Texas at El Paso, where I joined Kappa Sigma Fraternity, along with John Smith (PHS 63), Bill Fowler (PHS 63) and pledge brothers Jeff Ellig (PHS 64), Cary Reeves (PHS 64) and Tom Payne (PHS 64). For fifteen months in 1966-1967 I was married to Judy Darwin (PHS 64). I graduated from UTEP in 1968. I then attended law school at the University of New Mexico. During law school, I married Dana Jones (PHS 65). After I graduated from law school, I took a job teaching in the first year program at Columbia Law School in New York City. Dana and I have a daughter (Lisa) who was born in New York City while I was working at Columbia. Dana and I divorced in 1974. I was a law professor until the end of 1987, teaching at Columbia, the University of Houston and the University of Kentucky, teaching primarily Federal Jurisdiction, Federal Civil Procedure and Conflict of Laws.
I left teaching at the end of 1987 (in a fit of rage over not being chosen as Dean of the Law School). In retrospect, my colleagues were much smarter than I was because I would have been an absolutely terrible Dean. I became a partner in the Lexington, Kentucky office of an AmLaw 100 law firm based in Cincinnati. After five years, a headhunter approached me to become a shareholder in and open a Lexington office for an AmLaw 100 firm based in Pittsburgh. In the years after teaching, my practice was primarily commercial trial and appellate litigation. During my years with the Pittsburgh firm, I was frequently urged to move to Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, bigger offices of the firm, where we lacked people my age with my specialties. At the end of 1998, I moved to Pittsburgh to work in the main office.
Over the years, the firm grew in size to have more than 350 lawyers, at which time our management thought we needed a full time lawyer to represent the law firm. In 2005, I became the General Counsel of the firm. Between then and my departure at the end of 2013, the firm grew to have almost 600 lawyers and offices in fourteen cities across the United States.
While living in Pittsburgh, I had been single for more than twenty-five years. I met a woman fourteen years younger who was a native of Pittsburgh and had never been married. Mary Catherine (Kay) Barry. Kay was a nurse but had an MBA and had worked most of her career for pharmaceutical companies. She and I fell in love. Doesn’t that sound just too trite for a 46 year old woman and a 60 year old man? We surely were too old for all this, but her father objected to me as a potential husband (too old, too many failed marriages, not a Catholic). And so we eloped and were married on the 17th green of the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club in St. Kitts, West Indies. I will attach photos from the wedding, the reception we had at The Renaissance Hotel the following Labor Day and the fifth anniversary when we returned to St. Kitts. We share a love for snow skiing, although I like to ski in various places over the world (New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Canada, Switzerland) while Kay is a Vail Resorts fan. I will attach photos of us skiing in various places, including Chile. I have had a great life since I met Kay and we were married. I ultimately did join the Catholic Church, managed to get all my prior marriages (four, how does anyone manage to do that?) annulled and we married in the Church.
The end of 2013 I was diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis, an ultra-rare form of cancer related to multiple myeloma. It is incurable and typically patients live only a short time (24 months) after diagnosis. I left the law firm in January, 2014, because I did not want to spend the end of my life babysitting 600 lawyers, most of whom acted like petulant children. I began chemotherapy, but unfortunately had a heart attack in March, 2014. Thanks to Kay being with me at the time, I survived the heart attack and completed thirty-two weeks of chemotherapy. My disease was restrained by the chemotherapy but rebounded after three months. I then did another 20 weeks of chemotherapy before having to discontinue due to a severely adverse reaction to one of the drugs. Luckily, I was by that time in remission, which would last an uncertain time.
In June 2017, Kay and I moved from Pittsburgh to St. Augustine. We chose St. Augustine as our new home because Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville has personnel who are familiar with my rare disease. My remission ended after our move to St. Augustine. I resumed chemotherapy in February, 2019, and have now had six months of chemotherapy which has again restored me to remission. Kay and I still ski at least 20 days a year, quite against the advice of my cardiologist. And I golf (as badly as ever) in the heat of St. Augustine, again against medical advice. But I made up my mind when I was diagnosed that I was going to do whatever I wanted in my life and whenever the disease kills me, it will kill me. I would much rather die on Vail Mountain or at the Palencia Golf Club than in Mayo Hospital.
What I can say to every graduate of Permian High School is that I received a wonderful education there. It gave me the skills I needed to excel in college and to achieve in law school. As an amazing fact, seven years and three months after we walked across that stage in Ector County Coliseum, I walked into a classroom and taught first year law students at Columbia Law School in New York City. Quite an accomplishment for a guy who had never been further east than Dallas. That would never have happened but for the quality of the basic education I received in the Odessa schools (I am including Dowling, Permian and, particularly, Bonham as places where I acquired the basic skills). I still have the skills I acquired in the Odessa public school system, they have never failed me in my career as a law professor and a partner in two AmLaw 100 law firms.
Having an incurable disease that will ultimately kill me unless something else does first has given me a chance to reflect on my life. I have had a wonderful career, working in what I consider to be the top tier of the legal business. I was blessed with financial resources that let me travel over the world and see things I never imagined, much less hoped for, when we were students at Permian. I finally was lucky enough to meet the love of my life, long after I thought that surely was not going to happen for me. And, after all my life as a heathen, I was brought to God through my relationship with Kay. So at the end of this journey that we all started so long ago, I am happy with the result, at peace with whatever end awaits me and hope that my classmates have reached this same place.
John R. Leathers, August 20, 2019
Please click on the link below to complete the registration process.
SAVE THE DATE: September 12- 15, 2019, 2nd Annual Panther Gathering. You must reserve your room by no later then NOON, August 13, 2019 to receive the special room rate . Please identify yourself as attending the 2nd Annual Panther Gathering (Permian reunion). The number to call is 877-967-3767 or 830-257-4440. For those with mobility issues, please request a first floor room nearest to the front desk and the meeting rooms.
The 2018 Reunion for the Permian classes of the 1960’s in Kerrville was a huge success despite torrential rains and flooding. Last year nearly 300 Permian graduates and their guests gathered in Kerrville for lively talk, fellowship and entertainment. We are hoping to repeat that success and extend the invitation to all classes from 1960 through 1970.
When: Thursday, September 12 to Sunday, September 15, 2019.
Where: YO Ranch, 2033 Sidney Baker, Kerrville, Texas 78028.
Who: All classes of Permian High School from 1960 – 1970 and their guests.
How: You can register to attend on the reunion website at www.phspanthergathering.com.
Cost: The cost is $80 per person plus the discounted cost of your room.
The Class has reserved a block of 200 rooms at the YO Ranch Hotel at a reduced rate of $99 per night. To guarantee your room at the discounted rate, you must call before NOON, AUGUST 13 and identify yourself as attending 2nd Annual Panther Gathering (Permian reunion). The number to call is 1 877 967 3767 or 830-257-4440. For those with mobility issues, please request a first floor room nearest to the front desk and the meeting rooms.
The cost covers two dinner meals on Friday and Saturday, all hotel facilities, the DJ for the Saturday dance, the websites, and snacks. If we can raise the money from the generosity of Sponsors and Donors, we will add at no additional cost to a third lunch meal on Saturday. The bar at all events will be a cash bar. We have increased the cost because last year’s event lost money which the Class of ’66 covered. The breakeven point for this year’s event at $80 per person is 250 attendees.
Activities\Entertainment – We are still planning the activities and entertainment. The purpose of the get-together and all activities is to provide a venue for people to make and renew old relationships and memories. The planning committee welcomes all suggestions for activities. Check websites for more information. The events so far include:
DINNER DANCE - Saturday with your favorite 60’s music.
MUSICAL SESSION – Talents of many Permian performers.
COOKING CLASS -A cooking class with Phyllis Hunter ‘67. Enrollment for the class is limited to twelve student chefs at a cost of $50 per person.
YOGA CLASS -A yoga class with Ruth Thomas ’64 Friday and Saturday mornings in the YO hotel Enrollment for the class is unlimited and there is no fee but you must bring your own mat.
GOLF - Reduced cart and green fees of $53 per golfer at Riverhill Country Club for Friday morning. Arrange your group and call or email Riverhill pro Matt Trevino (830 792 1143 or email@example.com) to reserve a tee time. Riverhill will accommodate up to 80 golfers and forty carts. Riverhill address is 100 Riverhill Club Lane, Kerrville , TX 78028. Golf is also available to our group at these prices Thursday through Sunday based on available tee times.
PLANNING COMMITTEE - The Class of ’67 is taking the lead this year. Roger Collins and I with a friendly shove from Bill Abel have organized an initial group of volunteers. We are hoping to have at least two representatives from each class to help in getting notice out to everyone with any interest in attending this event. All volunteers are welcome and appreciated.
Web Sites – We have two websites: www.panthers67.com; and www.phspanthergathering.com. Please register to attend the reunion at www.phspanthergathering.com. We will also post there notices, announcements and updates.
If you want others to contact you and\or share your life experience with your classmates, send photos and bios to Billy Dale ’67 at BillyDale1@gmail.com. Billy will post your information on www.panthers67.com.
If you are reading this message on the website, please familiarize yourself with its many conveniences and information. You can register, arrange payment and choose among many activities. You will be able to keep track of who has signed up from each class. We urge you to contact your classmates to get the word of the reunion to everyone.
Sponsors\Donors – In order to add a meal, upgrade the quality of the experience for all and add other amenities, we are seeking help from those who can contribute an additional amount. Donors can contribute any amount from $1 to $499. We are seeking at least ten Sponsors who can contribute $500 or more. We also invite In Kind Donors who contribute their special talents or door prizes. We will recognize all contributors, regardless of the amount, with a special “Thank you” on the website.
The age range of this group is mid-60’s to late 70’s. The reunion is an opportunity to celebrate each other. Help us make that experience a memorable one for all!
JC Nickens ’67 Roger Collins ’67 Bill Abel ‘67
If You have questions please contact someone from your graduation class from the below list.
CLASS OF ’66
Committee President - Lynn Homsey firstname.lastname@example.org
Committee Vice-President - Candy Homsey email@example.com
Reunion Organizeer - Johnny Colgin firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact for San Antonio Area - Mike Collie email@example.com 210-733-1665
Contact for DFW Area - Janet Prince Young firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact for Austin Area - Gary Stillwell email@example.com
Contact for Austin Area - Julie Murphy Stillwell firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact for Houston Area - Gail Johns email@example.com 713-817-0786
Contact for Golf Outing - Phil Watts firstname.lastname@example.org 325-998-1952 mobile
CLASSES OF ’60 AND ’61
CLASS OF ’62
CLASS OF ’63
Contact Walter "Jug" Campbell email@example.com
CLASS OF ’64
Contact Ruth Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Billie Jean Roark email@example.com 432-553-9444
Contact Judye Holland Pumroy firstname.lastname@example.org 432-638-2499
Contact Kenny Hodges email@example.com 432-638-4123
Contact Harmon Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
CLASS OF ’65
CLASS OF ’67
CLASS OF ’68
Contact Terrie Holland Colgin email@example.com
CLASS OF ’69
Our goal is to include a great variety of our Class’s activities and accomplishments. At the top of the page, I have saved all the Bio’s from the 1967 reunion for your perusal. We depend on you to help us in achieving that goal. In order to contribute your personal perspective, you need only email your photos and other material to Billy Dale at BillyDale1@gmail.com. When completed, you will find fascinating information about all sorts of things on this website. The content is pretty much up to you. Your classmates would like to hear from you: your outlook on life, joys and disappointments (NO POLITICS), – otherwise all is fair game.
Panther Logo Compliments of Jeff St. John
Here are the Tri-Chairman’s for the 1960’s reunion - J.C. Nickens , Roger Collins, and Bill Abel.
The website is a work in progress and it will change daily.