Updated: Nov 3
Nikki Towery DeShazo was raised in the small town of Stilwell, Oklahoma and graduated valedictorian of Stilwell High School. She attended Northwestern State College in Louisiana and received a degree in nursing after which she moved to Dallas and took a job in the emergency room at Parkland Hospital. At age twenty-nine she decided to enter law school at SMU when all of her three children were under the age of five.
After practicing law for a few years, Nikki was elected as Judge of the Probate Court of Dallas County, Texas. She served in that capacity for almost twenty-seven years. During her tenure, Nikki also served as the Presiding Statutory Probate Judge for the State of Texas and as the president of the National College of Probate Judges. She consistently earned a ninety-eight percent approval rating in the Dallas Bar Association judicial polls taken while she was on the bench.
Her husband, Edward V. Smith III, once wrote, “Nikki possesses a mind that, when faced with a decision, will always choose the high ground.” She earned the respect of the members of the Dallas and Texas Bar Associations and has been recognized with many honors including: the Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Dallas Bar Association Real Estate Probate and Trust Law Section in 2013; the Louise Raggio Professionalism Award in 2010; and the Distinguished Alumna award from SMU Dedman School of Law in 2010.
Edward V. Smith, III (1937-2018) was a fifth-generation Texas and a native of Dallas. He received a B.A. from the University of North Texas in 1960 and a J.D. from Southern Methodist University School of Law in 1963.
In 1977, the first-year certification was offered in the field of Estate Planning and Probate Law, and he was certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He wrote and presented numerous papers for the State Bar of Texas, the American Bar Association, the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and the Dallas Estate Planning Council.
In 1987, Ed married Judge Nikki DeShazo.
Ed was a passionate proponent of professionalism and was recognized in 2006 by the Texas Center for Legal Ethics as the recipient of the Morris Harrell Award. Also in 2006, he was the recipient of the Dallas Bar Association Probate, Trusts & Estate Section with their Lifetime Achievement award.
In addition to his many Bar-related activities, he was a Regent of the University of North Texas and served on the University of North Texas Foundation for 32 years including two terms as Chairman. Ed was named a Distinguished Alumnus by both UNT and SMU School of Law.