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The University of Texas at Austin


In Memoriam: William Dean Justice

William Dean Justice

The Briscoe Center is saddened by news of the death of William Dean Justice at the age of 88. Justice, a longtime friend of the center, was the first director of the Frank Erwin Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Dean was a valued advocate of the center from its inception. He generously donated important materials related to the touring entertainment industry and he succeeded in attracting several additional collection donations from individuals and organizations related to that industry. For several years, he was a diligent and hard working member of our advisory council,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “We mourn the loss of this dear friend. Dean’s warm personality was revealed in the things he loved—his family, the outdoors, Longhorn sports, his dog Scamp, photography and, of course, history.”

William Dean Justice was born March 23, 1928, in Chanute, Kansas. He graduated in 1950 with a BA in Business from Emporia State College. After serving four years in the Korean War he worked in the insurance industry before turning to venue management in the 1960s. In 1976 he became director of the Frank C. Erwin Jr. Special Events Center on the UT campus, a position he held until he retired in 1990.

Justice established the non-profit Society for the Preservation of Professional Touring Entertainment History and served as its president. Through the efforts of Justice and the society, the Professional Touring Entertainment Industry Archive was established at the Briscoe Center in 1995. The archive documents the history of touring entertainment companies as well as the venues and arenas in which the acts were presented. The center is also home to the William Dean Justice Papers and the UT Frank Erwin Special Events Center Records.

William Dean and Sharon Justice were both interviewed in 2008 as part of the Briscoe Center’s UT Oral History Project. Transcripts of the interviews are available here.