Zollie Coffer Steakley, Jr. & Leona Ruth Butler




Zollie Coffer Steakley, Jr. (born on August 29, 1908, in Rotan, Texas) was the valedictorian of DeLeon High School in 1926.  He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Simmons University (now Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, in 1929.  Zollie graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 1932 with a Bachelor of Law degree.  He was very active in many law school organizations.  Zollie practiced law in Sweetwater from 1932-1939 and in addition, assisted his father, Zollie Coffer Steakley, Sr., in the Chevrolet business.  He had a solo practice until 1937 when he entered into a partnership with attorneys, Jack Harris and Charles L. Nunn.


Zollie married Leona Ruth Butler (born on July 31, 1917), a Sweetwater native, on June 4, 1939, in Sweetwater, Texas.  They moved to Austin, Texas, in 1939 where he became Assistant Attorney General with Attorney General Gerald Mann until 1942.  He was in the United States Navy Intelligence from June 1942-45 as a Junior Grade Lieutenant and was honorably discharged with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  Zollie returned to Austin as an Assistant Attorney General with Attorney General Grover Sellers from 1945-46.  He formed a private law practice with Herbert Smith from September 1946-57 in Austin, Texas.  Governor Price Caniel appointed Zollie as Secretary of State, and he served in that capacity from 1957-61 until his next appointment to the Supreme Court of Texas as an Associate Justice in January 1961.  Judge Zollie Coffer Steakley, Jr., served three terms on the Supreme Court of Texas until his retirement in 1980.  He then served as Special Assistant to Attorney General Mark White.  When Governor White was elected to the governor's office, Zollie joined the Governor's Office of General Counsel in 1983, where he currently serves as special assistant.


Zollie has received many honors which include two Honorary Doctor of Laws.  Judge Steakley has served on the Board of Trustees of Hardin Simmons University and was chairman of the Christian Education Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.  He is a 33rd degree Mason, a member of Lions Club International, having held many high district and area offices, and has taught the Men's Downtown Radio Bible Class of the First Baptist Church in Austin since 1949.


Leona Ruth Butler Steakley is a graduate of Newman High School's 1934 class in Sweetwater where she was a cheerleader.  She attended Hardin Simmons University, and she was a Freshman Class Beauty and Homecoming Queen.  Ruth also attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas from 1936-37.  Ruth ahs been active in many organizations in Austin where she has held high offices including the presidencies of the Austin Lawyers' Wives Club, the State Officials' Ladies Club, and the Tri-L Club.  During her years in Sweetwater, she was a member of the First United Methodist Church.  Ruth and Zollie are members of the First Baptist Church in Austin, Texas.  Ruth is the daughter of the late Jim and Lula Ruth Bertram Butler of Sweetwater.  Ruth's parents are buried in Sweetwater Cemetery.