Celebration of Life
In Lieu of Flowers
Obituary of Robert Stephen Bickerstaff, Jr.
Our beloved Robert Stephen Bickerstaff, Jr., age 73, passed on Friday, October 4, 2019. He was preceded in death by his father, Robert Stephen Bickerstaff, Sr.; mother, Wanna Bickerstaff; and son-in-law, Anthony Drummond. He is survived by his loving wife of 36 years, Charlotte Carter; daughter, Betty Drummond; daughter, Lee Nespor and husband Patrick; granddaughters, Jessica and Maggie Drummond and Abigail Nespor; and sister, Bette Bickerstaff.
Steve was born April 15, 1946 in Sweetwater, Texas and grew up in Midland. After graduating from Midland High School, he moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas where he obtained a B.A. in History and a J.D. from the School of Law, serving as an editor on the law review. Steve then served honorably as a first lieutenant in the United States Air Force, eventually making Austin his permanent home.
In the 1970s, Steve served on the Texas Constitutional Revision Commission and as Counsel for the Texas Constitutional Convention (1973-1974), as Parliamentarian of the Texas Senate (1975), as Director of the State Office of Constitutional Research (1976), and as Assistant Attorney General (1977-79).
In 1980 Steve co-founded the private law firm of Bickerstaff, Heath and Smiley, now Bickerstaff, Heath, Delgado, Acosta, which continues as a vital and diverse Texas firm to this day. “Steve was the driving force in founding the firm” says longtime friend, colleague, and firm co-founder Bob Heath. “His passing is not only a loss to all who knew him, but also to the legal profession.” Considered an expert on redistricting and other election law issues, Steve represented state and local government clients during his 30 plus years in private practice.
For 20 years Steve was an adjunct professor at the University of Texas Law School. After leaving the law firm in 1998, Steve began teaching full-time. During the early 2000s he taught and lectured at several universities in Europe. He was a Fulbright Foundation Scholar, a Rockefeller Foundation Scholar in Residence at the Foundation’s Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Italy, a member of a Carter Commission team advising on election issues in China, and a lecturer at the London School of Economics. An endowed scholarship was created in his name at the University of Texas Law School by his former law firm.
Steve is also the author of many publications, perhaps most notably among them, Lines in the Sand: Congressional Redistricting in Texas and the Downfall of Tom DeLay, which chronicles the 2003 Texas redistricting and its aftermath. He recently finished writing two books, both to be published posthumously: Election Systems and Gerrymandering Worldwide (Springer Publishing House, Switzerland) and Redistricting Texas (1836-2021): Politics and Gerrymandering Texas Style (Texas Tech University Press). For a more complete list of Steve Bickerstaff’s professional accomplishments and publications follow the link given.
Steve’s profound love of the outdoors took him on travels around the globe. He reveled in the challenges nature presented him, tackling them head on: bungee jumping in New Zealand, summiting the peaks of Mount Rainier and Mount Kilimanjaro, exploring Machu Picchu and the Amazon, trekking through Kenya on photo-safari, and adventuring twice to the Antarctic. Above all he fell in love with Alaska, especially Denali National Park and Preserve, which inspired his involvement in environmental groups including the National Parks Conservation Association and the Trustees for Alaska. His book, There’s a Bear Right Behind You, is a personal reflection on his close encounters with black and grizzly bears while hiking the back country of U.S. National Parks.
Steve's educational and community involvement included the Board of Visitors for the University of Texas McDonald Observatory, the Chancellor's Council of the University of Texas and Dean's Roundtable of the University of Texas School of Law, and the Board of Directors of the Marfa Public Radio Corporation.
A Celebration of Life will be held the evening of Friday, October 11th at the offices of Bickerstaff, Heath, Delgado and Acosta LLP. Please call 512 * 472 * 8021 for details.