Mark Vinson III

March 30, 1939April 24, 2018
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Mark Vinson, 79, resident of Sugar Land, Texas passed away suddenly on Tuesday, April 24th 2018 at 1:03 p.m. at St. Luke’s Hospital in Sugar Land, Texas.

On March 30th 1939, Mark was born to Nathaniel and Secana Vinson in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was the second of four children and was raised in the fourth ward of Houston, Texas. He graduated from Kashmere Gardens High School. In 1959, he joined the U.S. Army as an enlisted member and met his future wife, Helen Henley. In 1960, they married and later welcomed twin daughters, Valerie and Vickie. In 1966, Mark went to Officer Candidates’ School (OCS) and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. Later that year, he was blessed with another daughter, Tracy.

Mark is a Vietnam Veteran who was promoted several times throughout his military career and eventually obtained the rank of Major. During this time, he completed a Bachelor of Science degree at Hampton Institute (University) in 1972, a Master of Business Administration degree and a Master of Science in Administration degree at George Washington University in 1978, and a Bachelor of Arts degree at Saint Leo College in 1979. He retired from the United States Army in 1980 after proudly serving for 21 years. That same year, Mark moved his family to Houston, Texas, where he attended Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. After graduating with his Juris Doctor in 1983, he went on to pass the Texas State Bar and was hired at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office that same year. He was promoted several times and eventually obtained the position of Chief Prosecutor. While at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Mark mentored and left a positive influence on numerous attorneys. In 2005, he made history by becoming the first African American to retire from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. He continued to practice law as a Criminal Defense Attorney and was also an Adjunct Professor at Texas Southern University. He was an active member of Windsor Village United Methodist Church and was on the board of Culture Awareness Ministry; an avid golfer and a member of the Greek fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha. Mark was also a devoted Dallas Cowboys fan.

Mark leaves behind his loving wife of 58 years: Helen A. Vinson, his three daughters: Valerie, Vickie and Tracy, his grandchildren: Kalen, Erica, and Mark IV, his son-in-law: Bruce Watson, his sister: Ladybyrd Johnson (James), his brother: Barney and a host of nieces and nephews and many friends. He is preceded in death by his parents and older sister, Bobbie Bee Rhodes.

A visitation will take place from 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at American Heritage Funeral Home. A Celebration of Life will take place at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at American Heritage Funeral Home, 10710 Veterans Memorial Drive, Houston, Texas 77038.


  • Nathaniel Vinson, Father (deceased)
  • Secana Vinson, Mother (deceased)
  • Bobbie Bee Rhodes, Sister (deceased)
  • Helen A. Vinson, Wife
  • Valerie Vinson, Daughter
  • Vickie Vinson, Daughter
  • Tracy Vinson-Watson, Daughter
  • Kalen Vinson, Grandchild
  • Erica Vinson, Grandchild
  • Mark Vinson IV, Grandchild
  • Bruce Watson, Son-in-law
  • Ladybyrd Johnson, Sister
  • Barney Vinson, Brother
  • a host of nieces, nephews and friends.

  • Henry Rhodes, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Kenneth Rhodes , Honorary Pallbearer
  • Tyrone Rhodes , Honorary Pallbearer
  • Eric Johnson, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Kevin Johnson, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Cleveland Kizzee, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Raymond Walker , Honorary Pallbearer


  • Visitation

    Tuesday, May 1, 2018

  • Celebration Of Life

    Wednesday, May 2, 2018

  • Repass

    Wednesday, May 2, 2018


Mark Vinson III

have a memory or condolence to add?

Steve Wisch

May 2, 2018

Mark Vinson was an outstanding human being. I first met Mark when we tried the first of several criminal jury trial that he prosecuted as an Assistant DA at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

The first time we tiried a case against each other was in the late 1980s - Mark was a relatively new prosecutor, but I was struck by his skill and ability to separate his responsibilities as a prosecutor and his unmistakable decency and integrity as a consummate gentleman. He fought hard, but outside the courtroom, we became friends. I was amazed at his many accomplishments, his service to America as a decorated Army officer and zest for Life.

The last case we tried against each other - about 15 years ago was a grisly Murder case against and Judge Hazel Jones, then a prosecuto. ,Mark and Hazel got a quick jury “Gulity” verdict. Fortunately, for my client, there were mitigating facts and his sentence was low.

After the trial, after leaving courtroom, where we had tried one of the many hundreds of jury trials that Mark prosecuted, my friend Mark Vinson walked ove, shook hands with me and said “Steve, you made a great punishment argument. Your client was lucky to have you.”

That complete professionalism, the ability to fight hard during a trial, without rancor or hostility on a personal level, is an example of the highest degree of an review professionalism a Lawyer can attain.

I will miss my Friend, Mark Vinson, his kindness, decency and many virtues.

First, a loving husband, proud father, proud of his family, Soldier, Patriot, Lawyer - a splendid human being. I would remiss if I do d not mention that Mark was very proud of hhsbapoearance, and made a dashing appearance in his beautifully tailored suits that fit him perfectly.

My sincere condolences to Mark’s living families and his many friends, who, like me will miss this wonderful man, whom we were fortunate to know, admire and learn from.

Steve Wisch
A Friend of Mark Vinson

Thomas Brown

May 1, 2018

My family and I extend our most sincere condolence to Helen, Mark's loving wife, his three daughters, Valerie, Vickie and Tracy and to his grandchildren whom Mr. V loved dearly.

Mark, whom I respectfully called "Mr. V" met at Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 1980 and became very good friends. He even took time to try and teach me how to play golf which was his passion. Mr. V was a man of integrity and principled virtues that were admired by his friends. I shall always remember our Constitutional Law class because we often engaged in friendly spars on the opposite side of the political spectrum. But, at the end of the day we would find humor in the arguments and positions that we advocated in class.

After leaving Houston, I looked forward to seeing Mr. V when I visited Houston. I recall, on one occasion, visiting his courtroom. He introduced me to his Judge who spoke highly of Mr. V's legal prowess and professionalism.

Helen, I pray that God continue to bless you and family and provide comfort during these difficult times. Remember that "weeping may endure through the night but joy comes in the morning." I shall cherish the memories of my friend, "Mr. V" for I know that the be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Thomas J. Brown.


May 1, 2018

Mad here, Folks! Mad since Mark's widow Helen called me regarding Mark's sudden passing. Mad because a Good Man--in otherwise good health--went down before his time. Yes, 79 . . . but still! Yet unlike other memories here from collegues and friends, my association with Mark predates them all--back to kindergarten. At 4 or 5 years old, Mark and I were students at the Smith Kindergarten years ago in our home area of 4th Ward, otherwise known as Freedmen's Town. From our time living blocks apart on Andrews Street, onto Gregory Elementary, onto Booker T. Washington, Mark then left in his senior year to become a member of the first graduation class of Kashmere High School. I remained at BTW, following the graduation tradition of my Mother. Lost track of Mark through the college/adult years: He to university, miltary and the law; Me to the theatre, film and television. Reconnecting by accident in Houston some years ago, as we caught up on the years, I noticed Mark's "John Wayne walk" with the click of cowboy boots . . . and confidence. Over lunches, talk ranged from criminal justice, law school education, TSU, Vietnam, television,film and theatre, resulting in an invitation for He and Helen to attend my directed Ensemble Theatre production of the Tuskegee Airmen drama FLY. And . . . he talked about his mother, Helen, daughters, granddaughters, grandson and granddaughter. Finally, I remember visiting him in his D.A. office downtown. As He stared out of his office window into a receding sunlight, Mark faced towards our old 4th Ward neighborhood and said . . . to me . . . to himself . . . "Allie, look how close we are . . . and how far we've come". As the disbelief of his passing still rankles, but recedes . . . All Of Us who knew the Man . . . from Andrews Street to Sugarland . . . could reverse and piggyback that phrase. " Look how far we've come with Mark Vinson III . . . and how close We will remain."

Denise Henderson

May 1, 2018

My deepest sympathy to Tracey Vinson and family. I am sorry to hear about your loss, may God be with you and your family through this difficult time. Central Jail family.

Sylvia Ocampo

May 1, 2018

My deepest condolences to Mark's beloved family, I know that your loss is boundless.
Rest assure that Mark is sharing the Lord's table . Mark's labor as he walked this earth has ended but now he flies among the sweet Angels in Heaven. I know this because the interaction I experienced with Mark, he as ADA and myself as a court clerk in the Courts of Harris county back in the 80's were always pleasant, Mark was kind and respectful. Come jury trial day Mark was always prepared never asking for last minute J & S's . Mark had the "Right Stuff" as a prosecutor and as a person. Even after Mark left the DA's office and was a practicing defense attorney if I saw Mark on the street he would stop to chat and ask about my dad, who also worked with Mark as his DA Investigator in Felony court .
Thank you Mark for your dedicated service to Harris County and to your Country.
Isaiah 40:31 - But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.

Latonya Lewis

May 1, 2018

My condolences to Tracy Vinson and the Vinson family, may God keep you and strengthen you in this time of need. From C. Richardson, S. Paris, V. Smith and F. Ferguson and the rest of the Jail Division.

Larry Douglas

April 29, 2018

I met Mark Vinson when he was chief prosecutor in the 263rd District Court. Mark was an excellent lawyer, a dedicated prosecutor and a great chief. He RAN that court. He was firm, but fair. He was confident, but never cocky. He was very serious in his effort to pursue justice in every case. I liked him right away. We quickly became friends.

Then I found out that Mark was in the first class to graduate from Kashmere High School. I also graduated from Kashmere. So I invited him to a Kashmere alumni function. That's when I got to meet Helen and he got to meet my wife, Brenda.

Together we attended several programs at Windsor Village Methodist Church, where Mark and Helen are members, and several Kashmere Hall of Fame Banquets. We got the opportunity to talk for hours and really got to know each other.

A little more than a month ago I got a call from Mark. "Hey, Larry. Helen and I want to invite you and Brenda to this year's Evening of Jazz at Windsor Village." "Okay, Mark. When?" "Tomorrow night." (I think I could hear Helen in the background asking, "Mark, are you just now calling Larry?") Brenda and I were able to go and we had a great time.

Then a couple of weeks ago I got a call from Mark. "Hey, Larry, I need a judge for a moot court competition at the law school." "When, Mark"? "Tomorrow." Right then I decided to fix him. I already had the tickets for the Kashmere Hall of Fame Banquet on May 5th this year. But I decided that no matter how many times I saw Mark before then, I was not going to invite him until May 4th. After I thought about it for a while, I realized that would not be fair to Helen. So I decided to go ahead a call to invite Mark and Helen.

Then I got a call from my brother, James "Did you hear about Mark?"

Brenda and I are still in disbelief. Mark Vinson was a great man, a wonderful husband, a devoted father and a child of God. We pray for comfort for Helen and all who loved him.

Debbie Stricklin

April 28, 2018

I first met Mark many years ago when he arrived as an intern/#4 prosecutor in county court #8, where I was the #3. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had been there for about a week before Mark arrived. Back in those days, they sent the baby prosecutors to JP court, where we had to deal with the masses. Mark and I went out to a massive JP docket with me and I couldn't have asked for better company. He was poised, calm and well prepared, even in a world where it was impossible to be prepared for such an experience. Nobody would have known it was almost his first day as a lawyer! I was so impressed have always been impressed with his professionalism and his compassion.
My thoughts and prayers are with Mark and his family. May God bless you all.

Sid Crowley

April 27, 2018

I first met Mark when we worked at the Harris County District Attorney's Office in the 1980s. After I left the office I would still continue to see him in court. Mark and I both lived in the same First Colony area of Sugar Land where I would often run into him at the gas station or grocery store, where he always had time for a chat. Mark always provided a gracious sounding board to my rants about the tyranny of the First Colony Homeowners Association. Seriously, what can you say about such an extraordinary life devoted to service of his country and community. He was a fine lawyer and finer human being. We shall miss him greatly.

Charissa and Jacqueline Gainous

April 27, 2018

There are no words to encompass the life of a person like Mark-- A son, a brother, a husband, a father and grandfather, as well as an uncle and a friend. For myself and my family, we are saddened by his passing, but shored up by the fact that his life was a testimony to excellence.

He was the consummate family man who demonstrated his love for friends and family in action and deed. Mark's love for his family (born and inherited) was undeniable. If you ever met him, you knew of his love and admiration for his daughters. When he spoke of them, the timbre of his voice resonated with pride. If you ever had the pleasure of watching him and Helen laugh and cajole, then you knew that marriage, for them, was a lifelong commitment meant to be enjoyed. If you ever saw him in the professional setting, you knew that that sly off putting smile meant trouble for the other team. He was concise and fair but extremely skilled. His friendship was unwavering. It ran from early childhood to the grave. His support during times of loss and tragedy can never be forgotten. He was leader, a soldier, a champion of the law and a man who knew how to laugh.

I hope the golf courses in Heaven are to his liking.

Rest easy Mark,

The Gainous'


Alpha Phi Alpha