Walter Francis Timon

1876-1952

Walter TimonWalter Timon, lawyer, judge, and legislator, was born on October 4, 1876, at Rock Ranch in San Patricio County to John and Ellen (Keating) Timon. His father, a rancher, sent Timon to private schools in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. He later attended National Normal University in Lebanon, Ohio, where he earned a degree in business administration. After completing his undergraduate studies, he went on to earn a degree in law from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Admitted to the Texas bar in 1901, Timon almost immediately began to run for political offices. He served as county attorney for San Patricio and in 1903 represented the region in the Twenty-eighth Texas Legislature. He returned to the Texas House of State Representatives in 1905 as well. Following his terms in the legislature, Timon ran for and won the position of county judge of Nueces County. Under his administration Nueces County built a new courthouse in Corpus Christi in 1914. He served as county judge until 1917, when Governor James E. Ferguson appointed him to the Twenty-eighth District Criminal Court. Timon's career in politics was sometimes plagued by controversy. In May of 1915 a Federal Grand Jury indicted him and numerous other county officials for voter manipulation in the previous general election. When the case came to trial in September, prosecution witnesses testified that Timon had suggested that the use of bribes was the only way to insure victory.

Although the jury convicted five and acquitted sixteen of the defendants, they could not agree on Timon's part in the affair. The government attempted to revive the case in 1917 but ultimately dropped the charges against Timon. Personal troubles also haunted Timon in 1917. He was named executor of his late mother's estate in 1916, and his sisters, led by Cecilia Leahy, brought suit to contest her will. After an initial mistrial, the case eventually ended in Timon's favor. Despite the court ruling, harsh feelings remained among the siblings to the extent that Mrs. Leahy's son, Harry J. Leahy, stalked Timon. On October 15 while in Brownsville on business, Timon shot his nephew in a hotel lobby. Leahy avoided serious injury when the bullet was deflected by a gold watch in his pocket. Although Leahy was not in possession of a gun at the time, Timon claimed he shot in self-defense. Leahy was arrested and held based on his uncle's charges.

As president of the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce following the 1919 hurricane that devastated both commercial and residential districts, Timon spearheaded the campaign to build the Corpus Christi seawall and breakwaters. At his suggestion, city planners laid an extra-wide city boulevard along the seawall. The street was named in his honor. Timon also served on the Nueces County Navigation Commission from 1923 to 1925.

He married Bessie Baker of Lebanon, Ohio, on April 12, 1899. The couple had two sons, both of whom died in childhood. Timon died on August 2, 1952, in Corpus Christi.

Source-Handbook of Texas Online


Saved...By Time

Stories about Judge Walter Timon are legion in the Mathis area. The San Patricio County News of Oct. 19, 1917 had this terse little news item that tells it all.

Judge Walter Timon of Corpus Christi took a shot at his nephew, Harry Leahy of Mathis, Monday. The bullet struck a watch in Leahy's pocket, which probably saved his life. Timon said Leahy was following him to take his life. Leahy was under heavy bond but allowed to return home to Mathis.

From The History of San Patricio County by Keith Guthrie


Brownsville Shooting

The people of this community were much interested in the press reports of a shooting affray that occurred in Brownsville the first of the week.

It seems that Harry J. Leahy, a well-known ranchman of this place, had business in the appellate court in Brownsville, Judge James B. Wells, presiding. At the same time district judge W. F. Timon was holding court in the same city. There had been some bitterness between Judge Timon and Leahy growing out of a lawsuit of Leahy's mother against Timon, which lasted five weeks, in Corpus Christi. Leahy, considering the matter settled, was unarmed at the time.

From what we can learn, words passed early in the day between Leahy and Timon, in the lobby of the Miller Hotel, where both were guests. Later, as Leahy was in the act of stepping into the hotel by the street door, he was fired upon by Timon, the bullet from a high powered automatic pistol striking a gold watch in Leahy's pocket, which deflected the bullet so that it did no injury.

It is reported that another shot was fired at Leahy by a companion of Timon, which did not strike Leahy. Both shots were fired from the lobby of the hotel and at very close range.

A charge of assault and attempt to murder was filed against Leahy, and he was remanded to jail without bail. Habeas corpus proceedings were at once instituted, and bond in the sum of $25,000 was fixed and immediately furnished. When the bond was tendered the case was dismissed and withdrawn form the docket. As a precaution against further trouble Leahy was kept under guard during the remainder of his stay in the city.

Mr. Leahy came back to his home here Wednesday, and his many friends are congratulating him upon the fact that he wore a watch.

From the Brownsville Newspaper


Judge Timon, 79, Dies in Hospital

Walter F. Timon, 79, well-known office holder and politician of former years, died in a local hospital at 9:55 last night after a long illness.

The silver haired man, who was known as 'Judge' to thousands of South Texans for more than 40 years, had been in ill health for several years and had been at death's door many times but rallied each time until the last.

Judge Timon, state representative, county judge, district judge, wealthy property owner, was the center of many a political storm from the turn of the century until his health removed him from public life.

Judge Timon is survived by his wife, Mrs. Bessie Baker Timon, who lives in the home at 711 Winnebago.

Other survivors include a sister, Mrs. Laura Timon Dolan, and several nieces and nephews.

BORN ON ROCK RANCH - He was born on Rock Ranch in San Patricio County Oct. 4, 1872, the son of John Timon and Ellen Keating Timon. His father was one of the prominent pioneer cattlemen of South Texas; and his mother was the daughter of John Beresford Keating, a captain under Sam Houston.

Judge Timon attended Meredith's Private School here, National Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio; Cumberland University Law School at Lebanon, Tenn.; and the University of Texas. He had degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor Oratory and Bachelor of Law.

COUNTY ATTORNEY - He served as county attorney of San Patricio County from 1900 to 1902, member of the Texas legislature from 1902 to 1906, county judge of Nueces County 1906 to 1917, judge of the Criminal District Court from 1917 to 1923, and Nueces County navigation commissioner from 1923 to 1925.

Judge Timon was known for his economy in county administration. The county courthouse and the old Nueces Bay causeway were built in his administration.

BAYFRONT BEAUTIFICATION - He was the originator of the Timon Plan for Bayfront Improvement and Beautification whereby the state, through legislative enactment, remitted to the City of Corpus Christi a 30-cent state ad valorem tax of seven counties to retire bonds issued for the construction of seawalls, breakwaters and other protective and beautification facilities.

The Chamber of Commerce in 1920 sent him on a commission to study and inspect breakwaters and seawalls on the Atlantic Coast from Canada to Florida.

REPRESENTED CITY - He represented Corpus Christi as a member of the United States Commercial Congress to Mexico in 1923.

Following the 1919 storm, which destroyed shipping facilities here, Judge Timon was elected president of the Chamber of Commerce and immediately advocated a re-survey of the entire port problem in this section and was one of those whose efforts resulted in the establishment of the Corpus Christi Port.

Judge Timon was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and the Elks Club.

Rosary will be recited at 8 p.m. today at Dunne Chapel. Funeral mass will be celebrated at Corpus Christi Cathedral at 9:30 a.m. Monday. Burial will be in Rose Hill Cemetery under the direction of Dunne Funeral Home.

From the Corpus Christi Caller Times, August, 1954