Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Offa Shivers Lattimore (1865-1937)

   After a brief break from writing, the first profile for the month of November takes us to Texas and one Offa Shivers Lattimore, an outstandingly named man who served as a member of the Texas State Senate and later as a judge on the state Court of Criminal Appeals. A surprising amount of information has been located on Lattimore (as well as a few photographs of him) and I can certainly say that I wish this was the case for some of the other obscure persons profiled here on the site. The annals of the Texas State legislature are home to many unusually named political figures, of which Mr. Lattimore is one.
   A native of the "Heart of Dixie", Offa Shivers Lattimore was born in Marion, Alabama on January 10, 1865, the son of John Lee and Sarah Catherine (Shivers) Lattimore. He received his curious name in honor of his maternal grandfather Offa Lunsford Shivers (1815-1881), a professor of medicine at the Memphis Medical College. The Lattimore family resided in Alabama until 1877, when they removed to Falls County, Texas, where Offa received his education. In the early 1880s, he found employment with the Texas Central Railway Company, working on the railways from 1883-1884. A few years after leaving his employ, Lattimore enrolled at Baylor University to study law and also began a brief stint teaching school.
   Lattimore was admitted to the bar in 1889 and in August of that year relocated to the city of Fort Worth to open a law practice. In the following year he married to Ms. Ermine Field Buck (1866-1944) with whom he would have eight children, who are listed as follows: Nannie (born 1888), Offa Jr. (1890-1952), Halbert Shipp (1892-1969), John Lee (1894-1967), William Buck (1895-1954), Robert Baker (1897-1974), Oliver (died aged three months in 1898) and Walter R. (1900-1967). 
  Lattimore's career in public service began in the same year as his marriage when he was appointed as assistant attorney of Tarrant County, Texas. He served in the post until 1894, and six years later became county attorney. After four years of service as county attorney, he returned to private practice and in 1910 won election to the Texas State Senate, representing the county of Tarrant. Lattimore served as Senate President Pro Tempore during his first term and also held a seat on the committees on Commerce and Manufacture (chairman), Constitutional Amendments, Finance, Labor, Privileges and Elections and lastly, Stock and Stock Raising.
  Offa Lattimore won re-election to the Texas Senate in November 1914 and continued to be a busy man at the state capitol, serving on the committees of Civil Jurisprudence, Educational Affairs, Internal Improvements, and State Affairs. Following his second term, Lattimore mounted a candidacy for the Texas State Court of Criminal Appeals and a political advertisement on his campaign (shown below) was prominently featured in the Texas Railway Journal in 1918. This notice touted Lattimore's previous experience in the Senate, as well as his being a friend to "organized labor."

                                       A  Lattimore political advertisement from the Texas Railway Journal.

  Officially taking his seat on the bench in 1919, Offa Lattimore was reelected to this court every six years until his death in 1937. While still serving on the court, he also gained distinction as a trustee for Baylor University, as well as its Female College. In addition to above,  Lattimore also served as the President of the board of trustees for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for a number of years.
  Offa Lattimore died at age 72 on October 27, 1937, and was shortly thereafter interred at the State Cemetery in Austin. His wife Ermine survived him by several years, dying in August 1944 at age 78. A death notice for Judge Lattimore appeared in the November 4, 1937 edition of the Clovis, New Mexico Evening News and is shown below. If one reads closely, mention is given that Lattimore had a "remarkable power of remembering names that were not so distinctive as his own". On that note, one can certainly make the assumption that anyone who ever made the acquaintance Judge Lattimore probably had no problem remembering his highly unusual name!!!

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