Judge Thomas H. Routt
The Texas KOP Program is named after the late:
Judge Thomas Henry Routt, the eighteenth Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas, was born on 5 March 1930 in the Bakers Hill community near Navasota Grimm County, Texas. After serving in the United States Air Force, he moved to Houston, where he spent most of his life. On 22 December 1954, he married Richie L. Wilson. To this union, two children - Lora Dean and Thomas, Jr. - were born. At the time of their father's death on 3 January 1991, Lora was employed as a management analyst in Houston's Department of Finance and Administration. Thomas, Jr. was a graduate student at the University of North Texas in Denton. Routt attended public schools in Bon Weir, Brazos County, Texas, and graduated with honors from George Washington Carver High School in Navasota in 1945. He attended Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas, from June 1945 through August 1947 and Texas Southern University in Houston from September 1948 through January 1952. He received a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Texas Southern's Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 1961.
Always concerned about keeping up with new developments in the judicial field, he graduated from the Academy of Judicial Education of the University of Alabama in 1970, from Texas College for the Judiciary in Austin in 1974, and National College for the Judiciary (now National Judicial College) in Row, Nevada in 1975. He took several graduate courses and seminars from the latter institution between 1975 and 1985. His law school designated him as an Outstanding Alumnus in 1994. Routt was licensed to practice law by the State of Texas in 1961 and was later authorized to practice in all four Federal District Courts of Texas and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In 1967, he was licensed to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was involved in private practice in Houston from December 1961 through June 1965 and employed as a sole practitioner, staff attorney, and assistant chief of the Enforcement Division in the Office of the Attorney General of Texas in Austin from July 1965 through July 1966.
He then returned to Houston, where he served as the the managing attorney for the Houston Legal Foundation from August 1966 through August 1968 and as judge of the Municipal Court from September 1968 through December 1972. He then returned to Austin as assistant attorney general. He held the latter position from January through August 1973. He was then named judge of the Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 6, the first African-American appointed to such a position on a full-time basis, and served in this office until May 1977. The following month, he was appointed by Texas Governor Briscoe as judge of Texas's 208th District Court, thus becoming the second African-American appointed to a criminal district court in Harris County. He was elected to this position in 1979 and reelected in 1982, 1986, and 1990. On 1 January 1991, his old friend State District Judge Carl Walker, Jr., came to his home and swore him in for his fourth term. At the time, Routt had colon cancer and was too weak to walk. As a result, the swearing-in took place in his bedroom, surrounded by family and friends. Routt died two days later.
Freemasonry played a significant role in Thomas Henry Routt's life beginning in 1951, when he was raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason in Oyoma Lodge No. 222 in Navasota. He later became a member of Ever Ready Lodge No. 506 in Rosenberg, Fort Bend County, Texas.
Thomas H. Routt was elected the 18th Grand Master from 1987 - 1991 of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas. In May of 1999, it was the Honorable Robert E. Connor Jr., serving as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Texas to name the Grand Council of the Texas KOP program the Thomas H. Routt Grand Council of Texas.