Trouble viewing? Open in web browser.

Journalist Resources Stanford News Stanford Experts Contact Us
Stanford University homepage

News Service

April 27, 2010

Howard R. Williams, Stanford oil and gas law expert, dead at 94

By Judith Romero

Howard Williams, a Stanford Law School professor and leading authority on oil and gas law, died April 14 at his home in Palo Alto. He was 94.

Williams wrote more than 30 articles and nine books in the areas of gas and oil law, property, trusts, wills and estates. He collaborated with the late Stanford law professor Charles Meyers to produce a seminal textbook, Cases on Oil and Gas Law, an eight-volume treatise Oil and Gas Law, and multiple editions of Manual of Oil and Gas Terms.

"Williams was a groundbreaking and incredibly influential scholar in his field," said Larry Kramer, dean of the law school. "He will be fondly remembered as a genial and insightful teacher, whose students benefited from his knowledge and devotion."

Born Sept. 26, 1915, in Evansville, Ind., Williams graduated from Washington University and earned membership to Phi Beta Kappa. He studied law at Columbia University, where he was a member of the law review and a Kent Scholar.

He joined the Army in 1940 and rose to the rank of major by the time he left the service six years later. He fought in Europe during World War II with the Army Field Artillery.

From 1946 to 1951, Williams taught at the University of Texas Law School, serving for a time as assistant dean and acting dean. He was named to the Columbia Law School faculty in 1951 and appointed to its Dwight Professorship in 1959. He joined the Stanford Law School faculty in 1963 and became the first Stella W. and Ira S. Lillick Professor in Law. He was later named the first Robert E. Paradise Professor of Natural Resources Law. He became a professor emeritus in 1985.

In 1994, Williams and Meyers were among the first recipients of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation’s Clyde O. Martz Teaching Award. The award recognized Cases on Oil and Gas Law and many other teaching and research contributions.

Known for his wry humor, Williams once said of law students: “Ninety percent of the students think they should be in the top 10 percent of the class.”

Williams is survived by his son, Frederick Thompson Williams; his granddaughter, Elisha Aulean Williams Perez; and two great-granddaughters, Grace and Luisa Perez.

A memorial service for Williams will be held on May 22 at 2:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto, 625 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto.

Flowers may be sent to the Methodist Church for the service on May 22. Gifts may be donated to support student scholarships at Stanford Law School in Williams' honor.



Adam Gorlick, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224,

Judith Romero, Stanford Law School: (650) 723-2232,

Related Information


Update your subscription

  • Email:
  • Phone: (650) 723-2558

More Stanford coverage

Facebook Twitter iTunes YouTube Futurity RSS

Journalist Resources Stanford News Stanford Experts Contact Us

© Stanford University. Stanford, California 94305. (650) 723-2300.