John B. Neibel ’56, the third dean of the University of Houston law school and mentor of generations of future lawyers during more than four decades, died Oct. 8 at the age of 80.
“John was instrumental in building the quality of the Law Center, including playing a lead role in initiating the Law Center's health law program,” said Dean Raymond Nimmer.
Neibel began his teaching career at the law school in 1956 before he even passed the bar when then-Dean Newell Blakely asked him to teach a torts class. He stayed in the classroom for more than 40 years as the school grew from a basement operation to top tier status.
“John Neibel was a gentleman, a very talented scholar, a capable dean, and an outstanding professor,” said Professor John Mixon, a classmate and lifelong colleague.
As associate dean, Neibel led the drive for membership in the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), which was granted in 1966. He began his tenure as dean that same year with two goals in mind: Build a new facility and further enrich the faculty by hiring the best legal minds possible both inside and outside the state. He achieved both goals before stepping down and returning to the classroom in 1974.
“As dean, John had an eye for quality and a great interest in the advancement of the law school,” Mixon said. “He had a manner and sophistication that made him a natural for the position.”
Neibel retired from the Law Center in 2001. Jenny and Don Riddle ‘66 provided the gift that established the John B. Neibel Professor of Law Chair held by Professor David Crump.
John Brewster Neibel was born April 21, 1930 in Houston. He is survived by his wife, Doris; his son, Jonathan Neibel, and wife, Jaqueline Gauthier; his daughters, Marlyn Neibel and Eva Neibel. Other survivors include his grandchildren, Marin Kennedy Neibel, Tess Gauthier Neibel and his cousin, Howard Startzman.