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25 July 2017 at 14:52 BST

Dee J Kelly Foundation gives $1.25mn gift to GW Law which hits $1bn fund-raising target

The Dee J Kelly Foundation, named after Dee Kelly Sr JD, a graduate of Texas Christian University and George Washington University Law School, has given GW Law a $1.25 million gift.

Visions Of America LLC

The gift from the Dee J Kelly Foundation is one of the final contributions for the school’s Making History campaign which formally ended on the 30 June after going over its $1 billion goal, a year ahead of schedule. The money will be used to create the Dee J Kelly Foundation Fund and the university will re-name the Law School Learning Centre (LLC) the Dee J Kelly Law Learning Centre.

Founded one of the state's most influential firms

Susan Karamanian, the Burnett Family Professorial Lecturer in International and Comparative Law and Policy and associate dean for international and comparative legal studies, said that Mr Kelly arrived in Fort Worth after graduating from Washington, DC-based GW Law with ‘little in his pockets and went on to establish one of the state’s most influential law firms, Kelly Hart & Hallman’.

Trusted counselor to political leaders

She added: ‘An outstanding courtroom advocate, Dee is perhaps best remembered as a trusted counselor and confidant to civic and political leaders. A protege of former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, he used his ability to relate to all kinds of people and his keen listening skills to resolve differences. He simply thrived on working with others.’

Presidential friends and clients

The news release revealing the donation also said that Mr Kelly was a supporter and friend to former presidents George HW Bush and George W Bush and was often a guest at the White House. Born  in 1929 in Bonham, Mr Kelly grew up as an only child. After graduating from TCU, he attended law school at GW and was later named a distinguished alumnus from both universities. For 32 years, he served on the board of TCU, where he was also a member of the Executive Committee. TCU later named its alumni center after Kelly. He died in Fort Worth in 2015 aged 86. Mr Kelly's clients included Fort Worth's Bass and Moncrief families, Anne Marion, the late John Justin and AMR Corp, the former parent company of American Airlines.

Deeply grateful'

‘All of us at George Washington are deeply grateful to the Dee J Kelly Foundation for this generous gift, which will benefit the faculty and students of GW Law for generations to come,’ said GW President Steven Knapp. ‘Naming the Law Learning Center in Dee Kelly’s honor creates a living legacy for a great man who was also one of our most distinguished alumni.’


Mr Kelly’s children, Cindy Kelly Barnes, Dee J Kelly Jr and Craig L Kelly will be in charge of the foundation. ‘Naming the LLC is a way to honor the life of my dad and the experience he had at GW Law,’ said Dee Kelly Jr. ‘This will keep his name connected to the law school for a long time and that’s what he would have wanted. He loved GW Law and Washington DC. I hope his career is motivational to students. My dad started with nothing and his successful career was based on the education he received at the law school.’


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