Floyd Lee Jennings
December 15, 1940 – April 21, 2021
Floyd L. Jennings, Ph.D., departed the felicity of this life on 4/21/2021. Born in 1940, he was, throughout his life, engaged in a perpetual quest for knowledge, entering undergraduate school at age 16, and earning a B.A. (1961) from McMurry University; a B.D. (1964) and S.T.M. (1969) from Southern Methodist University, the J.D. from The University of Houston in 1996, and the Ph.D. in clinical psychology from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in 1972. At age 51, he began studying law - having become interested both in health law and forensic evaluations. Quixotic in style, he was nonetheless caring as a clinical psychologist, thoughtful and ethical as an attorney, radical in his theology as a minister, and careful (though not prolific) as a writer.
He was an immensely complicated and neurotic soul, driven to engage in many activities, studies, and work simultaneously. Sometimes distant and pompous in manner, he was also very tender-hearted and had a deep mischievous streak that surfaced unexpectedly. His interests were wide-ranging, and he delighted in switching from discussion of curricula for training attorneys as mental health specialists to a conversation about 16th-century Protestant reformers or the papacy in the 14th-century, to comment on means of tuning a Colt 45 pistol for optimum performance, or the efficacy of some new psychotropic drug, or the impact of some recent court decision on healthcare, or new case law regarding competency and sanity in Texas. Sometimes wrong, he was rarely without an opinion – which he was not reticent to share.
Dr. Jennings practiced clinical psychology in Houston since 1978; he was for many years a consultant for mental health agencies and a long-time adjunct faculty member in the Dept. of Psychiatry at UT Med School in Houston. In 2008 he accepted a position with the Office of County Court Administration, and in 2010 with the newly-formed Harris County Public Defender, dealing with the problems of the mentally ill in the criminal justice system – which he said was his most challenging vocational experience. He was the author of some 50 publications. He was active in numerous professional organizations and past-President of both the Southwestern and Houston Group Psychotherapy Societies; and a fellow of the American Group Psychotherapy Association. He was also a retired United Methodist minister and served some fifty years in that capacity (being involved at a general church level with design of criteria for evaluation of clergy). As well, he examined clergy candidates for The Episcopal Diocese of Texas and served from 1982 to 2010 as a psychologist to the Harris County Sheriff's Reserve.
Dr. Jennings' survivors include his wife of many years, Shirley - who, he often said, tolerated his many eccentricities with grace; children, Sherry Scott of Houston, Glenn Jennings and wife Michelle of Austin, LeAnne Buffington and husband Matt of Tulsa, and Lynne Jennings of Cypress; grandchildren, Abby Reiners and husband Anthony, Taylor Castillo and husband Jesse, Tatum Buffington, and Sydney Davidson; and great-grandchildren, Titan Castillo, and Maverick Reiners. He loved life, enjoyed jeeping, sailing, skiing, and traveling; but much more than these, he loved his wife and children. Rarely critical he would but say with mild frustration, "I would prefer that you would...". In recent years, interested in ethics and law, he lectured to mental health professionals; in addition to, inflicting some misery on his staff in the mental health division of the Harris County Public Defender’s Office.
Services will be held at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer Rd., Houston, Texas 77027, at 11:00 a.m. on 6/12/2021; with Dr. Tom Pace, Dr. Charles Millikan, and Dr. Chappell Temple, pastors, officiating.
Live streaming will be available at https://www.stlukesmethodist.org/memorial-livestream-7/
St. Luke's United Methodist Church
Floyd Lee Jennings
May 4, 2021
I feel a tremendous sense of loss with Floyd's passing. We shared many years of delightful exchanges and collaborations on an array of thorny legal problems involving persons with mental illness and the Texas criminal justice system. These included our collaboration on legislation, joint presentations, and papers, as well as numerous and frequent email exchanges. His wisdom, experience, passion, and dedication touched many lives and unquestionably served to improve the arc of justice across our state. He was a true servant leader.
May 3, 2021
I am overwhelmed with sadness at hearing of Dr. Jennings’ passing. I was a psychiatric nurse at Memorial Southwest for several years. I valued his psychiatric evaluations and as far as I know, he was always right. He taught me a lot, though I don’t know that he realized it. I admired and respected him enormously.
I don’t know that I ever saw him without a coat and tie, even if he happened to come by the hospital on a weekend.
He had a ready twinkle in his eye and a dry sense of humor.
My prayers are with his family and those who loved him. He was a true Renaissance man.
Thomas R Brandon, MD
May 2, 2021
My condolences to the family of Dr Floyd Jennings. His obituarycaptured his character and spirit well. In my work as Lead Psychiatrist at the Harris County Jail I had the privilege of working with Floyd from time to time. I always enjoyed my contact with this very interesting man who was totally dedicated to doing what he could to help us have a Forensic System that worked well for society as well as for those with legal issues. We will miss him.
May 2, 2021
Dr. Jennings was one of my favorite professors at Houston Graduate School of Theology. He was so insightful and determined that we learn and grow, with a wry sense of humor quietly abiding in his teaching style. I will be praying for comfort for his family.
April 29, 2021
Dr. Jennings was a marvel. His compassion and expertise changed Texas law for the better in so many ways that will benefit generations to come. I am inspired by him to do the same--to show up every day and bring my best for those who need a voice.
He may be gone from our presence but will never be forgotten. Thank you, Dr. Jennings, for all that you gave and we will continue the good work with your help from the other side.
April 29, 2021
I had heard Floyd speak many times and I read several of his articles. I had a hearing in an MH case here in Austin. I emailed Floyd with questions and he spent most of the day with me on the phone giving me guidance, although he did not know me. I won that hearing because of Floyd.
I am so sorry Floyd, I will miss you!
April 28, 2021
I first met Floyd nearly 20 years ago as he was an expert for the State as I was presenting an insanity defense. Even though he was the State's expert we became friends. Floyd was a thoughtful and kind person. His primary goal was to make the criminal justice system empathic and responsive to those individuals who had mental health problems. Also, he wanted lawyers understand that there were alternatives to incarceration and that we had a responsibility to care for those with needs. Floyd changed the may the system worked one person at a time. He made a difference.
April 23, 2021
I am so saddened to hear this heart breaking news. Mr. Jennings was quite a character and his background was so intriguing to me. I loved when he would come to my office in person to pick up paperwork (the old fashioned way 😉)! He would tell me stories of him and his family traveling to many exotic places and even surprised me with a special hand woven basket made by natives one time, typed a note and placed it inside with the history and reasoning for that basket. I always wanted to ride in his jeep and hear more stories and now will never get the chance. My condolences to his family who I know lost a piece of their hearts the day he was called home. Mr. Jennings will always hold a special place in my heart as he was one of the greatest men I had the pleasure of meeting and grew to love.