Judge Thomas Henry Routt
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 the City of Houston's Department of Finance and Administration and 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 1930 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 now 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 from National College for the Judiciary (now National Judicial College) in Row, Nevada in 1975. He took a number of graduate courses and seminars from the latter institution between 1975 and 1985. His law school designated him as Outstanding Alumnus in 1994. Routt was licensed to practice law by the State of Tom 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 authorized 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 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 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 later position from January through August 1973. He was then named judge of the Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 6. He was 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 the 208th District Court of Texas, 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, Roan was suffering from colon cancer and 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 major role in the life of Thomas Henry Routt 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 Bond County, Texas. He served as his Lodge's Senior Warden from 1975 to 1978 and as Worshipful Master from 1978 to 1982 and as District Deputy Grand Master from 1982 to 1994. Routt was an active York Rite Mason. In Sunrise Chapter No. 77, Holy Royal Arch Masons, he served as King in 1981, and High Priest from 1982 to 1984. In Sanderson Commandery No. 2, Knights Templar, he served as Generalissimo in 1981 and Eminent Commander from 1982 to 1983. On the state level, he served the Most Excellent Prince Hall Grand Chapter of Holy Royal Arch Masons as Grand Lecture in 1980; and the Lone Star Grand Commandery as Grand Lecturer in 1991, Grand Captain General from 1992 to 1984, and Deputy Eminent Grand Commander from 1984 to 1986.
Routt was also an active Scottish Rite Mason. In 1975 he received the 32nd Degree in Goodwill Consistory No. 238. The following year, be received the 33rd Degree from the United Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction. He served the Council of Deliberation of the State of Texas as Second Lieutenant Commander from 1978 to 1980; as First Lieutenant Commander form 1980 to 1986, and as President of the Southern Area from 1982 to 1987. He served the Commanders of the Rite for the Valley of Rosenberg and the Orient of Texas as both vice-President and President.
Routt was created as a Noble of the Mystic Shrine in Doric Temple No. 76 in Houston in 1975. He served his Temple as First Ceremonial Master in 1975, as Assistant Rabban in 1976, as Illustrious Potentate in 1977 and 1978, as Chairman of the Council of Past Potentates in 1979, as Imperial Deputy of the Oasis in 1980 and Director of Group Supervision in 1981. He served the Desert Conference as Chairman of the by-law Committee in 1977; Chairman of the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee in 1978 and 1979, and Chairman of the Audit Committee from 1980 to 1987.
Thomas H. Routt was elected the 18th Grand Master in 1997 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.
The Most Venerable Thomas H. Routt Grand Council, Order of the Knights of Pythagoras was named after the late Past Grand Master of Texas: