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February 9, 2005

Ron Bliss, RIP

Ronald G. Bliss, a highly-regarded Intellectual Property lawyer in Houston over the past two decades and a true legend in Houston legal circles, died Tuesday in Houston after a six year battle with cancer. Ron was 61 at the time of his death.

Ron headed Fulbright & Jaworski's IP section during a time of explosive growth in that area from the mid-1980's until he became ill with cancer in the late 1990's. Ron specialized in patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret lawsuits, but he also was an expert in litigation matters over franchises and franchise assets. Most recently, Ron had become a first rate mediator of intellectual property disputes.

Although well known for his legal talent, Ron was legendary in Houston legal and business circles for being a decorated Vietnam War fighter pilot who spent over six years in the "Heartbreak Hotel," a particularly nasty part of the "Hanoi Hilton" POW camp in North Vietnam. Ron was tortured many times during that experience, which gave him a particularly interesting perspective on difficult legal matters. Listening to his stories about the torture sessions was a riveting experience in and of itself, which is one of the reasons that Ron was a big part of the 2000 documentary Return with Honor.

Ron was in captivity for 2,374 days -- as he would specify in talking about the experience -- and he was shackled in leg chains for almost the entire time. According to Ron, the worst torture method was one called the "Vietnamese Rope Trick," in which the North Vietnamese guards would place him face down with his wrists behind him on his back. The guards would then tie Ron's arms with rope, run a bamboo pole through the ropes, and then apply increasing amounts of pressure on the pole. That force, in turn, would place tremendous pressure on his wrists, arms, elbows and shoulders. As Ron noted to me and a group of lawyers on one occasion, the physical abuse "did not help my golf game, but it is a good excuse for getting more strokes on the first tee."

Ron got on with life upon his return to the United States in 1973 and never dwelled on the horrifying experience, although he would admit in conversation that he would have enjoyed a few rounds with the North Vietnamese guards who tortured him. As one would expect, Ron was a highly decorated veteran. Among his medals were two Silver Stars, a Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts and the POW Medal. He was also inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame in 2000.

A memorial service for this remarkable Houstonian will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer.

Posted by Tom at February 9, 2005 5:06 AM |


Ron also had a particularly low opinion of the members of the Kennedy administration.

Posted by: Joel Ephross at February 12, 2005 11:01 AM

Two years ago, I had the honor of some special time with Ron. He'd shed his tux jacket, tie undone, we contemplated "where the universe ended" and other mysteries. We shared the fact that Jesus had died for us, so we would have eternal life, AND when we got to Heaven we'd know the answers to what seemed so baffling to us here on earth. My guess was, that night, he would get there first.
I will always, always remember his courage, intellect & humor but most of all how he let me "into his space" for a few brief moments and two souls shared a glimpse of eternity....
GBU, Ron......
Shirley Hutton,
273 Peach Tree Ave.,
Vacaville, CA 95688, (707)449-3817

Posted by: Shirley Hutton at February 9, 2006 5:12 PM

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