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BOBBITT, ROBERT LEE

Robert Lee Bobbitt (1888–1972).
Robert Lee Bobbitt served as speaker of the House of the Fortieth Texas Legislature. Courtesy the Legislative Reference Library of Texas and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

BOBBITT, ROBERT LEE (1888–1972). Robert Lee Bobbitt, lawyer and state legislator, was born on January 24, 1888, on a farm near Hillsboro, Texas, and was one of seven children of Joseph Alderson Bobbitt and Laura Abigail (Duff) Bobbitt. Bobbitt’s father and mother moved from Virginia to Texas and established a homestead before their children were born. Bobbitt established a military background early in his life when he attended Carlisle Military Academy in Arlington, Texas. He then attended North Texas Normal College (now University of North Texas) where he earned a teacher’s certificate and then earned a law degree at the University of Texas at Austin in 1915. Bobbitt worked during his college career in a restaurant, mowing lawns, and clerking in the Texas State Capitol library. During World War I Bobbitt was in the Ninetieth Division of the U.S Army. He enlisted as a private and completed his service as field artillery captain but did not see combat. After his military service, he worked in the law firm of Hicks, Hicks, and Dickerson (with offices in Laredo and San Antonio). Robert Lee Bobbitt married Mary Belle Westbrook of Laredo on April 20, 1918. They had a son, Robert Lee Jr. 

From 1920 to 1922 Bobbitt served on the Texas State Democratic Committee. In 1922 he was elected to the House of the Thirty-eighth Texas Legislature and represented Webb and Zapata counties; he was re-elected for the Thirty-ninth and Fortieth legislatures . During Bobbitt’s time in the legislature he fought to block a bill that granted amnesty and full political rights to impeached governor James Ferguson. By 1927 Bobbitt was the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee where he worked on reform of the state appeals court system. He also served as vice chair of the committee to investigate the sale of state property. He was unanimously elected to serve as speaker of the Texas House for the Fortieth legislature. 

Bobbitt’s political career continued to flourish after leaving the legislature. In 1928 he became district attorney for Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg, and Dimmit counties. In the following year Governor Dan Moody appointed Bobbitt to be attorney general, and he held the position until 1931. Bobbitt moved to San Antonio in 1935, where he served as associate justice of the Fourth Court of Civil Appeals until 1937. From this position he went on to become chairman of the Texas Highway Commission in 1937 and remained in that position until 1943. Bobbitt then opened a successful law practice in San Antonio. In 1944 he served as a presidential elector and in 1958 served as a member of the board of regents of his alma mater, North Texas State College. 

Throughout his life Bobbitt was active in the civic affairs of his resident cities. He served as president of the Laredo Chamber of Commerce and was the first Post Commander at the Laredo American Legion Post 59, which he had helped organize. He served as district governor of the Rotary Club of South Texas and was active in the Boy Scouts and Salvation Army. Bobbitt was a member of the law firm of Bobbitt, Brite, Bobbit and Allen in San Antonio and served as an advisory trustee of St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio. He was also a member of First Presbyterian Church in that city. Robert Lee Bobbitt passed away on September 14, 1972, at the age of eighty-four and was buried in Mission Burial Park South in San Antonio. In 1974 a Texas Historical Marker was erected in his honor at a highway rest stop (which was named in his honor) located off Interstate 35 in Medina County.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

“Capt Robert Lee Bobbitt, Sr,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=68843523), accessed November 16, 2016. Historical Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Robert Lee Bobbitt, Sr. (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=2219&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=bobbitt~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed November 30, 2016. 

Tucker Sauer

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Handbook of Texas Online, Tucker Sauer , "Bobbitt, Robert Lee ," accessed May 22, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fboro.

Uploaded on May 16, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.