Alfred John Harper II

August 11, 1942March 9, 2020

Alfred John Harper, II passed away in Houston on Monday, the 9th of March 2020. He was 77 years of age.

John was born on the 11th of August 1942, in El Paso, Texas. He graduated from Monahans High School in 1960 and attended the University of North Texas, graduating in 1964 with a BA in government and history. He was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity, where he served as president among other offices.

Following college, John attended Southern Methodist University School of Law on a full scholarship. While in law school, he served as managing editor of “The Journal of Air Law & Commerce” and was a member of Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity. John graduated cum laude from SMU in 1967 and was elected a member of the legal honor society, The Order of the Coif.

After his first year of law school, John married his college sweetheart, Cynthia Newkam on the 3rd of July 1965, in Roswell, New Mexico. After a honeymoon, Cynthia and John returned to Dallas where John continued law school, and Cynthia went to work for Robert E. McKee Construction Company.

During law school, John developed his life-long passion for labor and employment law. He served as student editor for the first edition of “The Developing Labor Law” which became the definitive labor law treatise in the United States.

Following graduation from law school in June 1967, John and Cynthia moved to Houston where John joined the law firm Fulbright, Crooker, Freeman and Bates, which later became Fulbright and Jaworski, where he pursued his love of labor and employment law. During his 40 years at Fulbright, John became a senior partner and served as firm-wide head of its labor and employment practice for ten years prior to his retirement from the partnership on the 31st of December 2007.

Following his retirement from Fulbright, John joined the international law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius as senior counsel in its labor and employment section. There he continued mentoring and teaching young lawyers and practicing labor and employment law. The special benefit of working at Morgan Lewis was the opportunity to work with his son, John III, who followed in his footsteps into labor and employment law, and with Nancy Patterson, whom John mentored while they both worked at Fulbright. In early 2015, John followed his son to the labor and employment law firm of Littler Mendelson, where he worked alongside his son until his death. The joy John felt for his chosen profession was contagious. He always worked with a smile and treasured each person with whom he worked.

John was a pioneer in the area of management-side labor law. Throughout his career, John was active in the American Bar Association’s Section of Labor and Employment Law, where he served as a member of its governing council, as management co-chair of the Developing Labor Law Committee and of its Institutes and Meetings Committee. He also served as management co-chair of the Section’s Dallas regional trial advocacy program. He remained active in the publication of “The Developing Labor Law” serving as an Associate Editor for the second and third editions of the book. He also was a member of the Labor and Employment Law Sections of the State Bar of Texas and the Houston Bar Association, where he served as a member of its governing council. John also was a member of the Employment Law Subcommittee of the Texas Association of Business and served as an Associate Editor of its “Texas Employment Law Handbook.”

John was an active speaker and presenter on labor and employment law topics, and presented papers at many institutes, seminars and meetings of the Developing Labor Law Committee. He was a contributing editor to BNA’s “Employee Benefits Law” treatise and a supplement to its “Employment Discrimination Law” treatise.

John was one of the original founders and member of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. He was in the first class of labor and employment lawyers certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and he was continuously re-certified throughout his career.

John’s reputation as a leading labor and employment law practitioner was consistently recognized in many publications, including “Chambers U.S.A., The Best Lawyers in America,” “Who’s Who in International Labour & Employment Law” and “Texas Super Lawyers.”

The pride and joy of John’s life, his children, were born in 1975 (John III) and 1977 (Leslie Jane). He had the good fortune of being active in their school and extracurricular activities throughout their school and college years, as well as watching them marry and start families of their own.

Aside from spending time with his family and the practice of law, John enjoyed his membership in the Houston Country Club, where he loved dining and playing golf. He was active in St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, where he served as a board member and President of the Goodwill Sunday School Class.

John, fondly known as “Pops” to those closest to him, was an avid reader, loved Neal Diamond, The Beach Boys, Willie Nelson, the Beatles, classic Western movies and Chardonnay. He had a hearty laugh, a trademark smile that he used often, and a fond appreciation for a well-executed joke. The best part of his Sunday morning was reading the comics in the “Houston Chronicle” while enjoying his coffee. He was an expert Amazon shopper, steak griller, and scrambled egg maker. He made all of our lives brighter every single day.

John was preceded in death by his father, Mosley Lloyd Harper; and his mother, Marion McClintock Harper. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Cynthia; his son and daughter-in-law, John and Beth Harper; his daughter and son-in-law, Leslie and Derrik Sharp; and his three grandchildren, John “Jack” Harper IV, Harper Ann Sharp and Ellen Jane “Ellie” Sharp. He also considered Hope and Brooks Young and their daughters Paulie and Camila to be members of his family.

The family would like to thank the incredible doctors and nurses at The Methodist Hospital and Kindred Hospital for their exceptional care. Specific thanks to the lung transplant team who followed and cared for him well the last eight years, Drs. Ana Scafidi and Vinhh Nugyen and nurse DeCarlos Grayson for their incredible compassion and attention toward John and the family. The family will be forever grateful for all of you.

The family wishes to inform guests that due to the current health conditions of the community, all previous service information for the public visitation on Monday and the interment service on Tuesday have now been removed and the interment service will take place privately with the family at a later date.

A celebration of life memorial service followed by a reception will be announced at a later date, at which close family and friends, and the partners of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Houston office, will serve as honorary pallbearers.

In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests that memorial contributions in his name be directed to St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 22013, Houston, TX, 77227-2013; to Dedman School of Law, Southern Methodist University, P.O. Box 750116, Dallas, TX, 75275; or to the charity of one’s choice.


  • Memorial Service

    Friday, October 9, 2020



Alfred John Harper II

have a memory or condolence to add?

Kathy and Derek Munger

October 8, 2020

Our sympathy to you and your family in the loss of John. May each of you receive comfort through your family, faith and friends.

Eleanor Leinaweaver

October 5, 2020

John was always a favorite cousin of mine. He was unfailingly supportive and upbeat and could always make you laugh. John gifted my son, Jeff, with a car when Jeff was in college as he realized Jeff was, in essence, fatherless. That gift meant so very much to me as well as to Jeff.
My memories of John will, I feel very sure, remain strong. He was and is dearly beloved.

Dana P Engelstad

October 4, 2020

Cynthia, John, Leslie ... there are no words. I miss my friend. I am so sorry for the loss to your family. AJH II was an unique individual ... Am icon.
Peace to your family.

Tom Paul

October 4, 2020

I would like to offer my condolence to John's family. Although I was not in the labor section, John and I shared work for several clients and he was a great mentor and supporter of my career. He was a good law partner and friend during my career. Unfortunately we will still be in Montana when the funeral occurs and will not be available to honor John at his funeral.

Kathy and Derek Munger

October 3, 2020

Thankful for knowing John through children and church. A great example of a life well lived through his family, work and church devotion. “Hugs” to Cynthia and the family in their loss.

Kelley Shiflet Weller

April 9, 2020

Dear Cyntjia:

My thoughts and prayers are with you during this sad time. I will always remember Mr. Harper fondly and have wonderful memories of many times spent with him while working at Littler.
Mr. Harper was such a happy man and very brilliant. He leaves behind a wonderful family and I know you will all be a great source of comfort and support to one another.

Kelley Shiflet Weller

Sandra Johnson

March 30, 2020

Having known John and his family for several years, I can say with confidence that all who knew him respected him and will greatly miss him. John was a wonderful gentleman of superior intelligence with a delightful sense of humor and a deep love for his family. Although my family will miss him, memories of his witty conversation and charming smile will be remembered.

Martin Wickliff

March 30, 2020

Cynthia, we were saddened to hear about John's passing; we will continue to pray for John III, Leslie and you throughout this grieving period. But, be mindful that John II is doing just fine, and your tears will turn to smiles on your faces as you continue to recall those joyful times in your lives together. If there is anything we can do for you-all, please let us know. Take care. Marty and Sue Wickliff

Nour and Imad Abdullah

March 16, 2020

Dear Cynthia,

Nour and I were very saddened by the passing of John and we offer our very sincere condolences to you and all your children and family.
John was a remarkable individual with great achievements and we remember fondly the times we shared with both of you and your family.

You are in our thoughts and may you have comfort and peace in these difficult times.


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