IN MEMORIAM

Phil Durst, a lawyer and collage artist, died on October 1, 2019, at age 62. Phil was the only child of Joseph Durst and Barbara Unger Durst. He was born on November 7, 1956, in New York City. After his mother’s death, Phil and his father moved to Los Angeles and eventually Houston, where Phil graduated from Bellaire High School and the University of Houston. In both high school and college, Phil was a fierce interscholastic debater. (Oddly, Phil could never win a debate with his children.) Phil graduated from the UT law school in 1982. He started his legal career as an assistant Texas attorney general and eventually started a firm with his mentor David Richards and his friend Patrick Wiseman. For the past several decades, Phil has practiced civil rights and employment law with his friend Martha Owen, most recently as part of the firm Deats Durst & Owen. For many years Phil was an adjunct professor at the UT law school. His amazing assistant Gwen Shaw has been by his side throughout his career. Phil loved movies and the movie experience. He saw everything, regardless of quality or genre. When he wasn’t at the movies, he could be found at Dart Bowl. He once took two days off work to try to beat his son’s high score. (He succeeded.) Phil and Sarah Woelk, also a lawyer, were married for 34 years and had two children, Emma and Eli. Phil often referred to Sarah as his “long-suffering” wife, but their home was full of love and laughter (and groans when Phil workshopped his jokes). Phil was happy to have lived long enough to see the Astros win the World Series and to see the (disappointing) end of Game of Thrones. Phil is survived by his wife, Sarah Woelk; his daughter Emma Woelk and her husband Shawn Terryah; his son Eli Durst and Eli’s wife Colombina Valera; and his granddaughter Maren. Phil is also survived by his cousins George Farkas and Amy Joshua and his sister-in-law Cynthia Woelk, her husband Tim Prince, and their extended family.

Adapted from a version published in the Austin American-Statesman on October 6, 2019.

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