Berry, Weldon Horatio (1921–2000)

By: Robert J. Duncan

Type: Biography

Published: July 29, 2014

Weldon Horatio Berry, African-American judge and civil rights attorney in Houston, was born in Dallas on January 4, 1921. Berry earned a bachelor of arts degree at Texas College in Tyler in 1941. He served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II, from February 4, 1943, until 1945 and held the rank of second lieutenant. On June 29, 1943, Weldon married Mable Lurlene Barnes, and the couple settled in Galveston after the war. Their son Weldon Horatio Berry, Jr., was born there on May 11, 1947. Berry attended law school at Texas Southern University and graduated with a doctor of jurisprudence degree in 1952. He was admitted to the bar that same year; at that time, there were only about six African Americans practicing law in Houston.

Berry worked as a Houston-based attorney, and his law office was located at 723 Main Street for many years. He soon became a cooperating attorney for the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, where he tried many integration and other civil rights cases in federal courts. In 1983 Berry was appointed judge of the Eightieth Civil District Court of Harris County by Texas Governor Mark White. The term expired the following year. Berry intervened as a plaintiff in the League of United Latin American Citizens v. Attorney General of Texas (1991) lawsuit.

In 1975 Weldon and Mable Berry divorced. He married Rose Marie Kelly on August 16, 1978, but they divorced in 1980. In 1981 the couple remarried. They divorced again in 1997.

Berry was a member of the Democratic Party and was a founding member of the Houston Lawyers Association. He was a member of the Texas College Alumni Association, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Bronze Eagles Flying Club, Houston Business Men’s Club, and the New Mount Caramel Baptist Church. He was the father of three children.

Berry was a recipient of the Houston Men’s Club’s “Man of the Year” award in 1983, the Thurgood Marshall School of Law’s “Distinguished Service Award” in 1984, and Texas College’s “Alumnus of the Year” award, also in 1984.

Weldon Berry died in Houston on October 15, 2000, at the age of seventy-nine. Burial took place in the Houston National Cemetery.

Brownwood (Texas) Bulletin, November 7, 1968. Houston Chronicle, October 26, 1986; November 7, 1992. Houston Lawyers Association: Founders (, accessed January 21, 2014. Howard Jones, The Red Diary: A Chronological History of Black Americans in Houston and Some Neighboring Harris County Communities—122 Years Later (Austin: Nortex Press, 1991).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges
  • Lawyers
  • Civil Rights, Civil, and Constitutional Law
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders
Time Periods:
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • World War II
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • North Texas
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Robert J. Duncan, “Berry, Weldon Horatio,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 02, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 29, 2014

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