John William Alexander, 1949-2022


John William Alexander was born on Aug. 9, 1949 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. and died on Nov. 5, 2022 at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital at UT Southwestern Medical Center. His parents were J.M. Alexander and Cornelia, both long deceased. Alexander received a B.A. in 1971 from Middle Tennessee State University and an M.A. in English in 1974 from Baylor University, where he held the Robert Browning Assistantship in the Armstrong Browning Library. He served as production editor of “Studies in Browning and His Circle” and was a proofreader at Baylor Press. He taught at Blooming Grove High School, Paul Quinn College and McLennan Community College before attending law school. 

In 1978, Alexander graduated from Baylor Law School, where he was awarded a scholarship his senior year. He began a law practice that lasted 33 years. In December 1979, he began partnership in Winnsboro with M.D. Carlock and later opened his own law office on North Main St. in Winnsboro where he practiced for more than 30 years. He was licensed before the United States Supreme Court, three U.S. Courts of Appeal, the U.S. Court of Claims and all federal courts in Texas. His corporate clients were large and small: he had represented the John Deere Company, Yamaha Corporation of America, Team Air Express, U.S. Sprint and a number of water supply corporations, banks and telephone cooperatives. He was also licensed in Tennessee and had a second office there for several years, partnering with famed Tennessee criminal lawyer Wayne Emmons. Alexander was well known for his skill as a trial lawyer and for the precision with which he drafted documents and legal pleadings. In fact, the former speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, a lawyer himself, once remarked that “when Alexander writes a will, it’s writ.” He retired from active practice following a heart attack in 2011.

Alexander devoted a large part of his working life to helping the disadvantaged, which was work for which he had great passion. At the time of his death, Alexander was in his third decade of service to the board of directors of Lone Star Legal Aid, having served 19 of those years as board chair of Lone Star or its predecessor, East Texas Legal Services. In addition, he served on the board of Advocacy, Inc., which provides statewide legal services to the disabled, and he became its board chair. In 2006, Alexander was honored by the State Bar of Texas with the Frank J. Scurlock Award, its highest award for public service.

Alexander’s novel, “Shoveling Smoke,” was published by Chronicle Books in 2005 and was thought to be the last book read by Governor Ann Richards. He also wrote several short stories and edited a number of novels and scholarly works. 

Following his forced retirement post-heart attack, in the words of Alexander, he spent “his days reading, writing and practicing guitar, which he played badly for over 50 years, progressing over that time from beginner to advanced beginner.”

Alexander is survived by his wife of 52 years, Susan Parkes Alexander; daughter, Lauren Anne Alexander-Labahn and her husband, Joe Labahn of Austin; daughter, Shannon Leigh Boling and her husband, Dr. John Boling of Memphis, Tenn.; four grandchildren, Charlie, Vivienne, Caroline and Mirabelle; a sister, Barbara Cull of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; and a brother, Dr. Jim Alexander and wife, Judy Alexander, of Greenville, S.C.

A celebration of John Alexander’s life will be held on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church at 301 Church St. in Winnsboro. A reception in Wesley Hall will precede the service at 1 p.m. All who wish to honor John Alexander’s life are invited to this special occasion.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial gifts be made to the Armstrong Browning Library Fund, Baylor University, One Bear Place #97050, Waco, TX 76798-7050 or online at These gifts will help  establish an endowed fund in memory of John Alexander. Please note the gift is in his memory.