John O’Quinn has been as complex in death as he was in life. There are no simple answers or simple liquidation of his assets and as a lawyer bigger then Texas itself that is how it should be.
The name of O’Quinn will continue to circle for I predict five to seven years. Mr. Neil McCabe of the O’Quinn Law Firm told me on the record a few months ago, that the Law Firm had just signed a new five year lease. John O’Quinn was not a stupid man, in fact all who knew him or went up against him in court are in agreement he was one of the smartest litigators as Texas will ever see again, or the U. S. for that matter.
O’Quinn’s tragic death in October 2009 has created gossip, a rush to read his Will, and attempting to get a quote from the Executor of the Estate or the board members of the John M. O’Quinn Foundation. However the Executor or Board of Directors have given few quotes on the record which leaves us scrambling for answers, especially for those of us in adversarial roles in lawsuits with the O’Quinn Law Firm.
The Estate is being handled by a life long friend, T. Gerald Treece. Mr. Treece was of counsel to the O’Quinn Law Firm before O’Quinn’s death. Treece wrote the formal obituary and gave a moving eulogy by all accounts at the funeral of O’Quinn. Mr. Treece also is an assistant dean at Southwest College of Law, counsel to the president of the law school, and instructor at the law school as time permits.
Upon John O’Quinn’s death everything concerning the law firm was moved into the O’Quinn Law Firm Trust with three co-trustees at the helm, Mr. Treece, C. David Towery and David L. Griffis. They are to make all decisions for the slow dissolution of the firm, and those of us who live in Texas know full well that a civil suit in Texas can last from five to seven years. Mr. O’Quinn would not have those pending suits with money due him hanging in the wind so to say. Just like the Overstock.com lawsuit he was heading to a mediation meeting with a fellow lawyer on the day of his death, there are many pending lawsuits that owe Mr. O’Quinn’s Estate, O’Quinn’s share of the winnings, or the debts if that is the case.
The complex John O’Quinn remains just that from a loving Super Bowl Sunday to his prize cars owned by Classy Classic Cars LTD, which Darla Lexington, Mr. O’Quinn’s long time partner and described as the love of his life is president.
This week before the Super Bowl, Dexter Manley, nicknamed the “Secretary of Defense”, has been given the showy championship ring he won as a Washington Redskin on Jan. 30, 1983, back from the Executor of O’Quinn’s Estate on behalf of the Estate. In an interview with Houston Chronicle, Mary Flood, Treece shared that O’Quinn had given him the super bowl ring with explicit instruction on how and when to return the ring.
Manley had an illustrious eleven year football career, mainly with the Washington Redskins before being banned from the game permanently for the use of Crack Cocaine.
“During one of many relapses in 1998, Manley walked into a pawn shop in the southwest part of Houston. Low on cash, on the verge of eviction, he took the first of two Super Bowl rings he won in Washington and gave it to the man behind the counter; he walked out with $5,000, which soon disappeared in puffs of white smoke.” John O’Quinn heard the story and without Manley knowing it went to the same “pawn shop about a year later to find the ring had not yet been sold he handed over the $15,000 resale value in cash”.
Manley continued his descent into addiction and O’Quinn held on to the ring, saying when Manley got sobered he could have the ring back and so it went for ten years. When asked Manley would say, “See, in order to know your history, you got to know yourself. I knew myself enough to know someone else needed to have that ring then.”
Per the Washington Post interview with Manley’s wife she said; “John kept telling him he gave it to me on the plane that day and finally I said to him, ‘Dexter, you know John has it, I said, He’s not giving it back to you yet because he doesn’t believe you’re whole. He still thinks the ring needs to be safe. …At one point O’Quinn told Lydia, during one of Dexter’s relapses, ‘Don’t stop talking to him. He might not hear everything. But he hears something. We all hear something.’ What few people knew at the time is that O’Quinn was fighting his own addiction with alcohol one he beat, so he knew of the demons of addiction and “the destructive things the disease make you do. …He would only give the ring back if Dexter was now sober and healthy,” said Lydia, whose husband has not had a relapse since June 16, 2006. “That was real important. He, [Treece], asked me that about four times. …And you know what? He, [O’Quinn] fulfilled his purpose. He kept that ring safe. He kept that ring safe until Dexter could keep himself safe.”
The interview went on to say that Manley; “About a week after his death Dexter called Treece, the executor of O’Quinn’s estate, to share condolences. ‘The first time I smiled after John’s death, Treece recalled. Dexter was so much like John — a golden heart who would do anything for anybody.”
Near the end of the conversation Manley asked if Treece knew where his super bowl ring was and it was then that Treece said he had instructions from O’Quinn about the ring and he needed to talk to Lydia, Manley’s wife. Lydia Manley picked the ring up on Wednesday night at the law school office of Treece. While looking at it she mused; that “she liked that it was a little tarnished, but still just as valuable. It’s not all shiny right now, it’s just as it should be. It’s got a little wear on it.”
So today as we all watch the Super Bowl a sober Dexter Manley will have his super bowl ring with him; “This day is bittersweet,” said Lydia Manley, happy her husband deserves the ring back after being sober since 2006 but sad O’Quinn isn’t around to see that day.” Manley said of getting his ring back, “I can be trusted now; I’m safe, it, [the ring], may be best in my wife’s capable hands.”
I will be looking at the crowd Sunday afternoon here in my home as millions of us tune in for the Super Bowl and thinking about that tarnished ring, probably shined and sparkling as it should be by this day. It is 18-carat solid gold, heavy and gaudy. On its crown is a diamond-encrusted football with burgundy backing. One side is engraved with the Roman numerals XVII and the words “Super Bowl.” Under the words “Hail to the Redskins” are the Lombardi Trophy and the Capitol. Engraved on the other side is “MANLEY,” which sits above a Redskins helmet and his No. 72.
I believe a part of O’Quinn will be there with Manley sharing the common love both men had for the other and both understanding the tough road to sobriety. A very complex man, Mr. O’Quinn was.
Part two will be put up after the Super Bowl and will deal with the rumor car sales and what happens now with the Estate of John M. O’Quinn.
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February 7, 2010
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