HottyToddy recently had the opportunity to check in with former Judge David Houston III, a man who will be inducted into The Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame this year and who graduated from The University of Mississippi’s Law School with his Juris Doctor in 1969. He says he was drawn to Ole Miss as a young boy going to ballgames with his dad and grew to love the town through his years as a brother in Sigma Chi. After graduating, he dove into the workforce as a member of the FBI, traveling from Washington, D.C. to Florida and New York, and eventually coming back to Mississippi to practice law with his father in Aberdeen and to become a federal judge.. Along the way, he received seven letters of commendation from FBI directors J. Edgar Hoover and L. Patrick Gray. He was also recognized for his efforts in an incident involving a shoot-out with a escaped federal prisoner and he worked with Congress to help shape the national creditor law.
HottyToddy: What did you love or do you love about the jobs that you’ve had?
Houston: I really enjoyed the work with the Bureau. It was interesting; I was young. I had good cases and really liked the people that I was associated with. They were good people to be around, and I think they helped me grow up quite a bit from being a college student who was really ready to enter the practice of law. The same can be said with the practice of law. I was in a small law firm with my dad and one other partner and had good work, represented the railroad in defense work, represented the city of Aberdeen. I was city attorney for about eight years and represented one of the local banks, primarily doing civil defense work.
HottyToddy: You are receiving the Hall of Fame award from the Ole Miss Alumni Association, so how do you take part as an Ole Miss alumnus?
Houston: Well, I’ve been on the alumni board, both law school and the general alumni board. I know at least on each one for one term. My biggest contribution to Ole Miss: I have sent four children to Ole Miss. All have graduated undergraduate school at Ole Miss. Two have already finished law school at Ole Miss, and the fourth child is finishing up. She’s a third-year law student at this time. So I think that’s the biggest contribution to Ole Miss that I could ever give. All four children went there and love Ole Miss as much as I do.
Hotty Toddy: If you could go back and tell your freshman self something, anything, what advice would you give yourself?
Houston: To pay attention to the professors and people that were in the administration, because I thought that they were really there to help the students. They gave good advice. I was fortunate enough to have good teachers throughout undergraduate school and law school. I attribute a lot of my success to the attention that the teachers paid to the students, particularly me.
HottyToddy: And do you have any advice for soon-to-be graduates?
Houston: My advice to soon-to-be graduates, because this is a tougher economy than when I came out of Ole Miss law school, is persevere and don’t give up easily. Have faith in yourself and your abilities.
HottyToddy: What’s your favorite memory of Ole Miss?
Houston: I really enjoyed the fraternity that I was in. I was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and really enjoyed the people I associated with in that fraternity. I think probably some of my best college memories were there. I served a year as the pledge trainer for the fraternity. I then moved up as president of the chapter, and then my last year there I was fortunate enough to receive the Southern Province Balfour Award for the southern province of Sigma Chi, which was the outstanding member of the fraternity in that province.
HottyToddy: Speaking of friends, are you still connected to some of your Ole Miss friends and who are they?
Houston: Oh, absolutely! Quite a number of friends that I went to school with at Ole Miss, we maintain contact over the years. They range from people that I knew just in class to fraternity brothers to women that were sorority members there at the time. We had a pretty good circle of friends and we have gotten together on a number of occasions for reunions, primarily in the fraternity. I also really enjoyed getting together for some of the law school class reunions, which has been fun to keep in touch with people that I was in law school with.
HottyToddy: Do you visit Oxford often now?
Houston: Oh, quite a bit! I was on the federal bench for almost 30 years. I came to Oxford at least once a month during that time to hold court. Of course, with children in school up there, it’s always fun to come to Oxford. I always enjoyed springing for a free meal for everybody; that was always a treat. Probably a bigger treat for me than for them. I always enjoyed seeing them as they grew up and went through school up there. And I am teaching a skills class at the law school at the present time, so I’m coming up there about once a week right now to do that. I love Oxford. I love Ole Miss. You never grow out of your love for Ole Miss and the town there.
HottyToddy: So, are you a big football fan?
Hotty Toddy: What would you say is the best and worst part of an Ole Miss game day?
Houston: (Laughs0 The best part is when we win the ballgame. The worst part is sometimes having to fight the crowd, but it’s nice that we have big crowds to worry about fighting to get through to get to your seat. But by far, if we win a ballgame, that surpasses everything else. The atmosphere is just incredible. Always has been. Always will be.
HottyToddy: Do you have a favorite football year or memory and was there a shining moment during that time that you remember?
Houston: This all gets back at something that was personal to me. When I came to Ole Miss as a freshman, I did not have a scholarship, but I was a walk-on member of the freshman football team, and I got to play a little bit of football up there as a freshman. I’d say that was probably the highlight of my football career, but certainly there were no highlights anyone would ever remember about that cause I was not a spectacular player at all. I would have to think that one of the most memorable plays I ever saw was when my friend, Dan Heinman, who was my age and also a fraternity brother, ran down Joe Labruzzo, the running back from LSU, caught him from behind on the three-yard line and Ole Miss held them. They did not score on that particular drive. We won that ballgame.
HottyToddy: What’s your favorite food and drink for game day in the Grove?
Houston: I probably shouldn’t, but I do enjoy fried chicken. My wife makes great ham and cream cheese sandwiches and deviled eggs. Every now and then, I’ll have a Bloody Mary and/or a beer. It’s all good. Highly recommended! Helps adjust one’s attitude!
Contributed by Kristen Stephens, Ole Miss print journalism major, email@example.com.