Bernarr R. Pravel

February 10, 1924April 28, 2013

Bernarr Roe Pravel (Bill), 89, passed away on April 28, 2013 in Houston, Texas. He was born in Detroit, Michigan on February 10, 1924, to William Frank and Edith Roe Pravel. Bill graduated from Lamar High School in 1941, attended Tulane University for 1 year then returned to Houston and obtained a BS in Chemical Engineering from Rice University in 1947. While at Rice, he was active in the Naval Club, Tau Beta Pi (Engineering), Phi Lambda Upsilon (Chemistry), Rally Club, Sigma XI, and played football under Jess Neely as a blocking back. Bill and Retta were active supporters of the Smalley Institute at Rice University which is performing valued research into nanotechnology. As was common during this period, Bill’s education at Rice was interrupted by WWII. He was a member of the NROTC at Rice and was commissioned early to go on active duty. He served in the South Pacific and left the service as a Lt.(Jg) and the captain of LCI(L) 991. He brought his ship home to San Diego at the conclusion of the war. He returned to Houston and married his high school sweetheart, Retta Louise Atkinson. They were married 65 years. They moved to Washington, DC where Bill obtained a JD in law from George Washington University in 1951, graduating with honors. While attending law school he worked for the United States Patent and Trademark Office as a Patent Examiner. He was active in Order of the Coif (Law). He briefly worked for Gulf Oil, and then joined the law firm of Vinson Elkins. He then became a partner with Hayden & Pravel, and was the senior founding member of Pravel, Gambrell, Hewitt, Kimball & Krieger. This firm was well known for the practice of Intellectual Property and Anti-trust Law. He served as an expert witness in many high profile patent cases including Polaroid v. Kodak. He retired from the full-time practice of law after working with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. He was an author of numerous articles on patent law and held many leadership positions including; Chairman - Patent, Trademark & Copyright Section of the American Bar Association, President – American Intellectual Property Law Association, Chairman – National Council of Patent Law Association, Chairman - Patent, Trademark & Copyright section of State Bar of Texas, Director – State Bar Board of Texas, First Vice President – Houston Bar Association and President – Houston Intellectual Property Law Association. Bill was a member of the Houstonian, Kiwanis Club, Lamar High School 41’rs. He was a 32nd degree Scottish Rite, York Rite Master Mason and Shriner, and Eagle scout. Abiding faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior was the foundation of Bill’s life, marriage, and family. He was baptized and confirmed in the Presbyterian Church becoming a faithful leader as Deacon and Elder. As the father, he taught his young family the love of Christ through regular church and Sunday School attendance and Sunday night family devotionals, always ending with the Lord’s Prayer. Pop, we love you and will miss you. We will always remember the trips to the beach house in the summer, fishing under the lights and catching speckled trout, jumping the waves between the sandbars, and riding in Pop’s boat. We will miss Christmas at Granny and Pop’s every year, with the family gathering and continually growing, and the hunting trips with the boys in the fall and winter, the golf outings throughout the year. Helping Pop in his rose beds, checking out his candy jar and your love for sports including playing golf and following the Astros was always something we could participate in. You were always there for us and loved to come see us in our school events and celebrate our achievements. Pop was an amazing person who was dearly loved by all of his Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren. He will be greatly missed. Bill was predeceased by his parents and loving wife Retta. He is survived by his children, Mark R. Pravel and wife Cecelia of Gonzales, Texas; Bonnie P. Laverty and husband Paul H. of Onalaska, Texas; Ann P. Cherry and husband Wayne of Spring, Texas; James W. Pravel, Esq. of Alexandria, Virginia; grandchildren: Laura P. Herring and husband Craig A.; Mark Robert Pravel, Jr. and wife Amie L.; Dr. Cynthia Ballesteros and husband Nicholas; Paul H. Laverty, Jr. and wife Nicki; Theresa L. Morris and husband Micah; Adryan S. Dupré and husband Nick; and Alyson R. Sartorius; 11 great-grandchildren; sister, Diane P. Weston and husband Gary; brother John Robert Pravel; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and other loving family members and friends. While living at the Buckingham for the past four years, Bill and Retta were able to renew friendships with past schoolmates and other Houstonians. He participated in the various activities offered by the Buckingham, but his favorite was his regular golf game with his dear golfing buddies. When his health began to fail, he received exceptionally kind, professional attention and care from the Buckingham staff. The family wishes to give special thanks to Mario Lewis, his private caregiver and constant buddy, and Janice King also a primary caregiver. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2013 at (11:00 a.m.) at Spring Branch Presbyterian Church, 1215 Campbell Road, Houston, Texas, 77055. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Bill’s name to: PM Scholarship Fund Spring Branch Presbyterian Church 1215 Campbell Road Houston, Texas 77055 Rice University Smalley Institute c/o Angela L. Young Executive Director of Development Rice University MS-368 PO Box 1892 Houston, Texas 77251-1892


  • Memorial Service Saturday, May 4, 2013

Bernarr R. Pravel

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May 28, 2013

Bill was a fine man at every level.I'm sorry I was out of the country when he passed away. He and Retta left your wonderful family a legacy of love that I know all of you will cherish. Les. 4/28/13

May 14, 2013

Bonnie, we are so sorry to hear that Bill and Retta had both died recently. We live in the Caroolinas now and the news was a little late in getting to us.

Caroline & Frank Vaden
Okatie, SC & Blowing Rock, NC

Jerry Wilson Wolfe

May 5, 2013

What a handsome man! Your tribute to your "Pop" was lovely and brought tears to my eyes. The tears changed to smiles when I read the names of his descendents - Bill must have been very proud of his family. Blessings to you all.

Carol J Rhodes

May 4, 2013

I was saddened to read of Bill's passing. He and my late husband (Allen F. Rhodes) were close friends all through school, and I knew him through the Lamar 41'ers activities. May God be with you in this time of sorrow.

William Krenek

May 3, 2013

Mark & family... Our sympathies in this great loss. I have fond memories of your Dad in those early years at the ranch in Garwood. May God grant you each peace and comfort in this time of grief as well as celebration of a great life, lived well...

Samantha and Tom Smith

May 2, 2013

Samantha and Tom Smith remember Bill with the fondness of memories and a deep respect for his friendship and all of his many contributions to his profession and his community. He will be greatly missed by all who were fortunate enough to know him and his wonderful wife, Retta.

Jeremy Weston

May 2, 2013

Thoughts and prayers for the Pravel family. R.I.P. Uncle Bill.

Teri Pravel Broussard

May 2, 2013

Remembering you with loving thoughts and fond memories. You will always have a special place in my heart.

Bill Keefauver

May 2, 2013

With warm remembrances for a good friend and fine lawyer. Bill

May 2, 2013

DearPravel family. I learned with a whole lot of sadness of Bill's passing and was flooded with so memories of our friendship, as Paul Revere neighbors and kids who were fast friends and the '41'ers golf tournaments. Be thankful. He led a full life, had a wonderful family lived a good life, was highly regarded professionally and socially. Remember the good times, Bob Epstein