Mathes, Burke William (1896–1977)

By: W. Michael Mathes

Type: Biography

Published: October 1, 1995

Updated: January 24, 2020

Burke William Mathes, attorney, state representative, and cofounder of Texas Tech University, son of Lela Mai (Burke) and William Carey Mathes, was born at Hale Center on July 15, 1896. One of eleven children, his brothers included William Carey, Jr., and George Curtis Mathes. He was a graduate of Plainview High School, 1913, and received his LLB, Phi Beta Kappa, at the University of Texas in 1921. He served as representative in the Texas legislature from Hale County, 1921–25, was an attorney in Plainview, 1921–30, and Los Angeles, California, 1930–74, and was on the board of directors of Curtis Mathes Corporation, Dallas. On January 25, 1923, at Austin he pressed for the name and location of Texas Technological College in Lubbock in a meeting with Silliman Evans of Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Senator William H. Bledsoe, representatives R. A. Baldwin, Lewis T. Carpenter, R. M. Chitwood, and Homer Wade of West Texas Chamber of Commerce. He also assisted J. Frank Norfleet in his famous prosecution of confidence men. An ensign in the United States Navy, 1917–19, he was an early pilot of lighter-than-air craft. He was a Methodist and a Democrat/Republican. He married Fay Mahan on September 9, 1930, at Clovis, New Mexico. She was a graduate of Texas University for Women, Denton, and University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California. They had two children, a son Burke Mathes, Jr., who became president of the Curtis Mathes Corp., Dallas, and Pacific Stereo, San Francisco, and an attorney and business executive in Boston, Massachusetts, and a daughter Mary Fay (Mathes) Brandt of Pasadena, California. Burke William Mathes died on October 1, 1977, at Pasadena, California.

J. Frank Norfleet, Norfleet (Fort Worth: White, 1924; rev. ed., Sugar Land, Texas: Imperial, 1927). Vertical File, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University.


  • Education
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • School Founders

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

W. Michael Mathes, “Mathes, Burke William,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 09, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995
January 24, 2020