Philip D. Hart, 80, a retired partner with McAfee and Taft law firm, passed away Wednesday, April 12, 2017, in Oklahoma City. He had a heart attack after a brief illness. An accomplished attorney and adjunct law professor, he was a beloved husband of 58 years, father, grandfather, brother and uncle.
He is survived by his wife, Carolyn; his daughter, Sarah Winchester, her husband, Bruce, and their children, Trent and Adrienne; his sister, Linda Wood, nephew Yancy Wood and his wife, Mary, and their children, Zac and Nic Wood; his niece Angie Wood and her partner, Deb Goddard.
Phil was preceded in death by his son, Philip D. Hart Jr., in 1998.
Phil was born to Melvin and Dorothy Hart in 1936. He spent his early years in Tulsa and moved to Ada at the age of 11, where he attended junior and senior high school. He received a B.A. in government with honors from the University of Oklahoma in 1958 and his L.L.B., now known as a J.D., in 1960. He was a Phi Beta Kappa member and a member of the Order of the Coif. He was a member of Beta Theta Phi fraternity. He met Carolyn, his wife of 58 years, on an OU student trip to Europe in the summer of 1957.
After Phil completed law school, he and Carolyn moved to the Washington, D.C., area where Phil worked as a young lawyer for Hogan and Hartson. Their son Philip Jr. was born there in 1960. Phil later joined the Judge Advocate General corps, where he served as a captain in the U.S. Army from 1962-1964.
His daughter Sarah was born in 1964, and he and Carolyn returned to Carolyn's hometown of Oklahoma City, where Phil worked as an attorney for the Kerr Davis Law Firm before joining the Fowler Rucks Law Firm. It eventually merged into what today is known as McAfee and Taft.
For more than 55 years, Phil worked in oil and gas litigation, earning a reputation as one of Oklahoma's foremost authorities on oil and gas law. He was one of eight lawyers in Oklahoma initially named in The Best Lawyers in America's mineral and environmental law section. He was an adjunct professor of law at the Oklahoma City University School of Law for 48 years, primarily teaching oil and gas. It wasn't unusual for a former student and practicing attorney to stop and tell Phil that he was the best professor he or she had in law school.
It was with humility and gratitude that Phil learned of Clark and Kay Musser's generous donation to the newly renovated law school naming a conference room there in his honor. He was remembered after his death to the faculty and staff by Dean Valerie K. Couch.
Phil was also honored with a Memoriam posted on the McAfee and Taft website (www.mcafeetaft.com/in-memoriam-phil-hart). We know this would have meant a lot to him, as McAfee and Taft is a place where he spent many happy and productive years.
Phil will be remembered for his kind and honorable nature, his vigor in pursuing old interests and new projects and his enthusiasm for the people and activities around him. A person of eclectic tastes, he enjoyed everything from fine clothes and art museums to country music and Oklahoma diner food. From Carolyn, he learned to love cats. Much to his own surprise, he became closely bonded with a former stray cat named Cat-a-Thomas, also called Thompson, whom the family received from friends. He greatly enjoyed books and reading, spending many happy hours over the years, often with twenty-plus pound Thompson at his side, reading American and military history, suspense novels and the occasional western.
More recently, Phil spent his free time reading and reviewing biographies of noted figures in American history. A number of his book reviews appeared in The Daily Oklahoman, and he took pleasure in planning and preparing his next review. A positive and forward-looking person, he had plans for his future until the very end. Phil was interesting to talk to, and he enjoyed learning something new and then sharing that knowledge in a conversation regardless of the subject matter.
Phil was extremely generous. He believed strongly in the benefit of education and he quietly paid for his grandchildren to attend school and to take advantage of any program that might teach them something new. He was also very supportive of Carolyn's career as a mystery author, attending countless mystery conferences and book signings with her across the country and fending for himself at home while she traveled, promoting her books and forming relationships with others in the publishing world. Always a partnership to the end, Phil played an instrumental role copy editing and proofreading Carolyn's most recent book, a task ordinarily achieved by Carolyn but in this case made difficult by her recent vision problems.
Granddaddy, as Phil was known within the family, hosted wonderful family vacations through the years, providing lots of fun, lasting memories and funny stories for his extended family and grandchildren. He was always up for anything, even getting into the "Lazy River Pool" last May on one of these vacations.
The funeral will take place at 11 a.m. today at All Souls' Episcopal Church, 6400 N. Pennsylvania Ave. in Oklahoma City.
"...and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith..." Hebrews 12:1
Published on April 19, 2017