Posts Tagged “Johnny Lee Cutliff”

Johnny Lee Cutliff and John O'Quinn on a previous happy occasion

As this long day begins for the family of Johnny Lee Cutliff as they began to make the final decisions for the visitation with family and friends tonight and the funeral tomorrow of Johnny Lee Cutliff, we have learned that his teenage grandson, Johntriel Cutliff, has insisted on being a pallbearer.

In a life struck by tragedy with first his father lost to a senseless gun shooting in 1993 to now the lost of his grandfather Johnny Lee Cutliff, in a tragic vehicle accident last week; the teenage boy, Johntriel Cutliff has insisted on carrying his grandfather to his final resting place.

I have had the privilege of talking to this young man’s mother, who is saying no one can talk to her son about the incident, he is quiet and withdrawn as would be expected but he is also firm in carrying the casket of his grandfather tomorrow.

It is going to take a very long time for Johntriel Cutliff to come to terms with the horrible accident that occurred on October 29, 2009 that took the life of Johnny Lee Cutliff and John M. O’Quinn. It was impossible for the family to turn on the television last Thursday without being inundated with video of the horribly wrecked SUV that John O’Quinn was driving. Ms. Polk describes the family as “just hanging on” all of them still in shock. I was shown a program for the funeral tomorrow and read the heartfelt poem written by Johnny Lee Cutliff’s brother, Phillip Cutliff and a message to Mr. Cutliff written by his sister, Landas, [Yolanda] Cutliff Jacob. We have asked for and hope to obtain a program for tomorrow’s service which is full of pictures of Mr. Cutliff with his family as well as the picture with this article. The O’Quinn Law firm family is expected to attend this second funeral in less than a week. The funeral home told us they expect between 800 – 1,000 mourners for tomorrow’s service.

Rayna Polk, Johntriel’s mother, talked to us often breaking into tears about the closeness of her teenage son to his grandfather. Ms. Polk describes her son as an “average teenager” and with pride said her son had never been in trouble. Ms. Polk spoke about Johnny Lee Cutliff always encouraging his grandson to be anything he wanted to be saying that the world was opened to him. Mr. Cutliff is described as the rock of his family, an amazing brother and grandfather. Ms. Polk said Mr. Cutliff encouraged his grandson to be active in sports, to go to college and only recently had Johntriel decided on basketball. Ms. Polk went on to say that one of the last conversation she had with her father-in-law, was about Johntriel’s future including that both of them were hoping to get an athletic scholarship for Mr. Cutliff’s grandson. Ms. Polk is fearlessly protective of her son’s right to privacy and to have time to grieve and accept the grandfather who throughout his life also served as Johntriel’s father figured is now gone forever. Ms. Polk said that Johntriel in previous years had been invited to go out to eat with his grandfather and Mr. O’Quinn and was taken to see Mr. O’Quinn’s car collection. She spoke with fondness about the closeness of Mr. O’Quinn and her father-in-law, Mr. Cutliff and confirmed to us they were friends, not just employer – employee.

Ms. Polk’s primary concern right now is the future of her son and that he remains well taken care of as his grandfather had done since his birth. Ms. Polk sadly finds herself as navigating alone now to help her son come to grip with this tragic loss of his grandfather. She worries about the lack of money to do the things for her son that had previously been done by Mr. Cutliff. The only panic I heard in her voice during our interview was her fears of being able to do for Johntriel what every teenager needs, stability and the finances to continue to encourage his love for sports.

I told Ms. Polk that we were going to print out all three articles about her father-in-law’s death and the comments that had been made here in Texas, throughout the nation and to our international readers. Ms. Polk thanked me and as I told her we would get these articles and comments to her via her attorney, Mr. Nolley or the funeral home. Ms. Polk said that would be something that she would put up for her son to read when he is ready.

Our continued prayers go out to young Johntriel, his mother and all of the family and friends of Johnny Lee Cutliff as they attempt to make sense out of something that appears so senseless.

We are pledged to keep up with young Johntriel via his mother and/or his attorney, Mr. Nolley, as they come to terms over the next several months as to what happened and what will now happen to Johntriel Cutliff.

What an amazing young man to insist on being the lead pallbearer to carry his grandfather to his final place of rest, Paradise North Cemetery. Johntriel will grieve later, but not today or tomorrow as he remains the young man that his grandfather was so proud of, this time standing for his grandfather in a row that now has been sadly reversed this weekend.

The irony of Johnny Lee Cutliff’s birthday yesterday, November 5, 2009 he would have been 57 years old, that was not lost on any of us. This year there was no celebration just long hours of agonizing tears.

©Rose Turner
November 6, 2009
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Johnny Lee Cutliff

Johnny Lee Cutliff the man who was suddenly taken from this earth at 8:00 AM on October 29, 2009 in a tragic automobile accident with his employer of twenty six years, Mr. John O’Quinn, was born on November 5, 1952 and was 56 years old at the time of his death.

Mr. Cutliff is survived by his wife of twenty five years, Rosemary Anderson, his grandson, Johntriel Cutliff age 17 who was the love of Johnny Lee’s life, four brothers, James Earl, Adrian, Phillip and Tony Cutliff all of the Houston Texas area, one sister Yolanda Yvette Cutliff of Houston and eight nieces and nephews.

Mr. Cutliff is predeceased by his parents Johnnie Mae and Phillip Cutliff and lost his only son, Johnny Lee Cutliff Jr., in 1993 at the age of eighteen through a gunshot accident.

Family members described Mr. Cutliff as a deeply religious man but one everyone just “loved being around”. Mr. Cutliff was described as a “terrific dad”, and upon his son’s traffic death became the role model for his only grandson, Johntriel Cutliff.

Tony Cutliff shared with us that Johnny Cutliff went to church every Sunday at 6:00 AM, the services did not start until 8:00 AM, but every Sunday you could find Johnny Lee in church in prayer asking for both Mr. Cutliff’s sins to be forgiven but also guiding all of his family to the love of God and the peace God provides. Tony Cutliff said his last memory of his brother which he holds onto during this trying time was being with his brother at church on Sunday October 25, 2009 and watching Johnny Lee in prayer. That is who Mr. Cutliff was to his family. Despite the saddest of life experiences in Mr. Cutliff’s life including the sudden death of his son, Mr. Cutliff brought all of his family to God and the peace that God gives all. I would say that is a wonderful memory for Johnny Lee to leave his brother, Tony and all of his family and friends with, a man’s head bowed in prayer for not only himself but for all of those he knew.

Johnny Lee Cutliff was described as a modest man by family who describe him as not just John O’Quinn’s personal driver and attendant but also as O’Quinn’s “right hand man” and had been devoted to O’Quinn since 1983 from the first day he worked for O’Quinn twenty six years ago. Mr. Cutliff was one of the few in John O’Quinn’s trusted inner circle. Mr. Cutliff loved working for Mr. O’Quinn and rarely if ever took a day off per his family.

Mr. Cutliff was a member of the Lakewood Church in Houston Texas. Duncan Funeral Home is handling the arrangements for Mr. Johnny Cutliff. Duncan Funeral Home is located at 5806 N. Wayside Drive, Houston, Texas 77028, (713) 672-8782. Visitation with the family will be from 6:00 to 9:00 PM on Friday, November 6, 2009 at the Duncan Funeral Home. Rev. Joseph C. Glenn will be officiated at Mr. Cutliff’s funeral on Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 11:00 AM at the chapel of Duncan Funeral Home. Pallbearers will be Mr. Cutliff’s four brothers and his nephew James Cutliff.

In death all men become equal, and what you leave is the reputation you have built up in life. The chapter in the new Testament that best describes this is First Corinthians 13 which is about love, something Mr. Cutliff seemed to show to all every day of his life.

1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Mr. Tony Cutliff told us that although the O’Quinn Law Firm was taking care of all of Johnny Lee’s funeral expenses that the family was just now talking to each other about setting up a trust account for Mr. Cutliff’s grandson to insure the education of Johntriel Cutliff. When that fund is set up we will be adding the name of where money can be sent through the funeral home for that trust fund or through the family’s attorney Waverly Nolley’s office.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to all who loved Mr. Cutliff, from his family to friends to those who attended church with him weekly, the pain will remain long after the funeral for Mr. Cutliff as this modest man’s family lay him to rest.

Mr. Nolley told Fox 26 news on November 2, 2009, “His current goal is to represent the interest of the family in a death case.” Mr. Nolley added it was not appropriate to discuss any legal venues the family might seek prior to Johnny Lee Cutliff being laid to rest. The SUV Mr. O’Quinn was driving at the time of this tragic accident was registered to the John O’Quinn Law Firm.

A copy of this obituary of love by Mr. Cutliff’s brother Tony with all of the comments of condolences will be sent to Mr. Cutliff’s family in care of either the funeral home or the family’s attorney after the funeral this weekend.

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John O'Quinn will he RIP

JOHN M. O’QUINN, dedicated and extremely successful trial lawyer, generous benefactor, and devoted friend to those who loved him, has ended his earthly journey far too soon. John’s journey was always exciting because he demanded so much of himself. Born on the 4th of September 1941, he passed away Thursday, the 29th of October 2009.

John spent his professional life as a powerful advocate for the powerless – he was the courtroom champion of the ordinary person. He seemed bigger than life with his dynamic personality and folksy presence, which cleverly masked a giant intellect. He believed that the courtroom was the great common denominator: this was where each person was truly equal. John was the “difference maker” in so many major cases. He considered the courtroom much like the athlete considers the playing field. John took each and every case seriously and personally. As the “people’s champion,” even those who opposed him in court soon realized his unflinching commitment to his clients, and that even they were enhanced by his presence. Each client was unique; each case special. John was very much the home-town boy – he loved the city of Houston which helped create his legendary skills: both were robust, confident, extremely successful, with an unyielding attitude. Recognized publicly as a legal icon, he was named one of the 100 Legal Legends of the Law by the Texas Lawyer and recognized by the National Law Journal and Harvard Law Review as one of the Best Lawyers in America, receiving four of the largest verdicts in Texas legal history. An honors graduate of the University of Houston Law Center, he served as a Regent for the University of Houston, as well as a trustee of the UH Law School Foundation. He truly loved the UH Law School and all UH athletic activities.

John used his fame and fortune to assist not only the University of Houston with the John O’Quinn Law Library and the John O’Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium, but also The Children’s Assessment Center, The Women’s Center, Baylor College of Medicine, The End Hunger Network, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, the South Texas College of Law Advocacy Center, and so many more endeavors of equal importance. He was a man who was determined to give back to the city, which had been so very good to him. He once said, “The only things you get to take with you are those things you give away.”

But despite the public persona, John O’Quinn was also a very complicated private person. He seemed as if he were a walking contradiction. Few people knew the John O’Quinn who helped so many when no one else would. Not many knew of the wonderful friendship he shared with the few people who saw this private manifestation of his generous nature. The private John O’Quinn was the first to answer the call when a friend was in need, and he was loved by his classmates at the UH Law Center. From this class developed a strong bond between John and his contemporaries – Alvin Zimmerman, Jack Raines, Al Levin, and especially this writer, Gerald Treece. He was a friend to all of us and he is already being missed more than any of us can truly express.

The private John O’Quinn faced many demons. He fought them with the same zeal he approached the courtroom. John was a proud member of The 12-Step Fellowship, a group known as the “Motley Crew.” Only one woman was invited into this group, Darla Lexington, and together with these men, the group helped one another to fight the monster called alcoholism. John’s friends made him stronger and he them. His sobriety was nearing eleven years.

He truly loved these guys. standing by his side was Darla Lexington, the love of his life. They shared a passion for philanthropy, the arts, and classic cars. Their dream was to build an automotive history museum in Houston and Darla intends to build that legacy in John’s name. They escaped to their beautiful ranch in Wimberley, Texas whenever they could and planned to retire there.

John also deeply cared for Darla’s daughter, Michelle Coopwood, and referred to her as his daughter. John also leaves behind his beloved aunt, Ruth O’Quinn, and cousin, Carol O’Quinn, his extended family, as well as many dear friends. Darla, along with the guidance of Dr. Ed Young and others at Second Baptist, helped John on his journey to find his spiritual self. We can all rejoice that John found peace, and that he knows the full love of God, which is forever.

A writer to the Houston Chronicle, responding to the news of John’s death, wrote, “JMO was a brilliant attorney. He was a generous soul. The last samurai warrior. A real gunslinger. JMO championed the causes of the nameless and faceless individuals who did not have the means to challenge the mammoth defendants. UH has lost its son. Houston has lost its friend. The world has lost a generous soul….He loved hard work. He was a dedicated man.”

Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from four o’clock in the afternoon until eight o’clock in the evening on Tuesday, the 3rd of November, at Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.All are invited to the funeral service to be conducted at eleven o’clock in the morning on Wednesday, the 4th of November, in the Sanctuary of Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway Drive in Houston, where Dr. H. Edwin Young, Pastor, is to officiate. A reception is to immediately follow the service in the adjacent Deacons’ Parlor. The entombment services are to be privately conducted on the O’Quinn River Ranch in Wimberley, Texas.

For those desiring, contributions in memory of John M. O’Quinn may be directed to the University of Houston John O’Quinn Memorial Fund, University of Houston, Houston, TX, 77204-5016 (please indicate whether you prefer to support the UH Law Center or UH Athletics); The Texas Heart Institute, 6770 Bertner St. (MC3-116), Houston, TX, 77030 (please indicate whether your contribution is designated for Dr. Willerson’s Research or Dr. O.H. Frazier’s Surgical Research); The Children’s Assessment Center, 2500 Bolsover St., Houston, TX, 77005; The Women’s Center, 1010 Waugh Dr., Houston, TX, 77019; or to the John M. O’Quinn Foundation, 3518 Travis St., Suite 200, Houston, TX, 77002.


Executor Gerald Treece with John O'Quinn

In other news about John O’Quinn’s Estate the sole executor of the Estate of his good friend, Gerald Treece, gave an interview on November 1 to the Houston Chronicle about the big question in car collectors minds. “What will become of the museum and the collection?”

“The simple answer is I don’t know,” said Gerald Treece, a longtime friend who also will serve as executor of the estate. Treece said O’Quinn’s personal property has been left to the foundation that served his charitable giving. It will take awhile to determine whether the cars in effect belong to the foundation or to the separate corporation, Treece said. …O’Quinn was not married and had no children, reducing the likelihood of a probate dispute. His longtime girlfriend, Darla Lexington, oversaw the corporation in charge of the collection and usually accompanied him on his trips to car auctions around the country.

….after his 60th birthday, it resumed at a classic car auction in Katy and continued until the prominent Houston litigator died in a car accident last week, when he had invited an overseas expert and a film crew to witness the rebirth of one of the great novelties of his vast collection: the oldest existing working automobile.

Starting on that day in 2003 when he purchased 14 cars at his first auction, O’Quinn became a towering figure in the world of automotive collecting. He amassed a collection that numbers more than 800 vehicles, from the overtly silly Batmobile to a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow once owned by a maharaja. …from the world’s best assortment of Duesenbergs — including the most expensive one ever sold — to iconic American muscle cars to the rarest Ferraris to a Lincoln ordered by Queen Elizabeth II. Certainly a main attraction of the museum would be a Rolls-Royce purchased by Houstonian Howard Hughes for his new bride from a local Packard dealership. …… O’Quinn surpassed them all, and he boasted a vision beyond the mere acquisition of cars for personal whim or pleasure. He planned to build a museum to display them that he claimed would be the greatest in the world. He had already hired people to compile archival research on cars and to take oral histories from important automotive figures. … He had even scouted potential sites. He was intrigued by one tract near downtown and one closer to the Museum District. He predicted the museum would be completed by 2010, and he acknowledged he was far from finished buying more cars. …What car lovers wandering through such a museum might someday see are samples of a mind-boggling inventory assembled in a stunningly short amount of time…

…O’Quinn was a force previously unwitnessed in the classic car world. He bought and bought and never stopped…

The irony of the way O’Quinn died — a car wreck on a wet street near downtown — was lost on no one aware of the passion that had come to consume him, and surprised no one who had ever ridden with him as he drove at breakneck speeds around town.

Gerald Treece besides being the sole executor of John O’Quinn’s Estate is rumored to be one of three “succession administrators” of the John O’Quinn Law Firm to be sure it continues as a tribute to his friend’s memory in the legal world and also maintains the power of a force to be dealt with in litigation. The succession plan was announced as being in place early Friday Morning, October 29, 2009 on the O’Quinn Law Firm’s web site.


The service and official obituary for Johnny Lee Cutliff has not yet been announced however when it is we will give it the same space as we have to Mr. O’Quinn, it seems that he was the type of man that would have wanted Mr. Cutliff remembered as well.

For all of you who are emailing us wanting to know if Mr. Cutliff will get the same type of coverage by Rose as John O’Quinn has and our answer is YES.

We have asked for a formal obituary for Mr. Cutliff and will have that up once we receive it. We have been now been able to confirm that Duncan Funeral Home Chapel will be the providing the arrangements for Johnny Lee Cutliff. Viewing will be on Viewing Friday, November 6, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm Funeral Service will be Saturday, November 7, 11:00 at the funeral home chapel as soon as we get Mr. Cutliff’s official obitiuary from his family or the O’Quinn law firm it will appear here with Mr. Cutliff’s pictures members of the O’Quinn Law Firm will be able to attend both services this week.

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