Vester Hughes.
Vester Hughes. ()

Vester T. Hughes, a name partner in former Dallas firm Hughes & Luce, died Jan. 29 at 88 after a long career as a tax lawyer.

Hughes had been a partner at K&L Gates in Dallas since 2008, when Hughes & Luce combined with the firm now known as K&L Gates. Craig Budner, a Dallas partner with K&L Gates who had practiced with Hughes for 27 years, said Hughes was tremendously important to the Dallas office and beloved by many of the lawyers. “He always said that no matter how difficult an adversary was, you should always treat them with goodwill. He was a true gentleman,” Budner said.

Budner, the firm’s global integration and strategic growth partner, said Hughes continued to come into the office five to six days a week until very shortly before he passed away. While not billing hours recently, Hughes was maintaining contacts with people and “serving as a consigliere to many of us.”

During his career, Hughes worked on a rewrite of the federal tax code relating to estate and gift tax law, argued several major cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Texas Supreme Court, and did estate counseling and planning for prominent business and community leaders. Hughes graduated from Harvard Law School in 1952, and after serving in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark, went into private practice.

Peter Kalis, K&L Gates chairman and global managing partner, said in a statement that Hughes’ legacy goes beyond his professional accomplishments. “Walk the halls of our Texas offices and learn firsthand about Vester’s enduring legacy. The depth of feeling toward Vester as a beloved and selfless mentor­—a port in any lawyer’s stormy life—is unsurpassed in my experience,” Kalis wrote.

In late December 2007, after the 149-lawyer Hughes & Luce agreed to combine with Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis of New York, Hughes said he was excited about the opportunity and was not sad to see the Hughes & Luce name become part of Texas law firm history.

“What difference does it make? I’m far more interested in what is a wonderful law firm and younger lawyers having an opportunity to spread their wings a little broader,” Hughes said at the time.

A service for Hughes will be held Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas.