The Legion of Honor Award was established in 1978 to recognize a member of Phi Delta Theta who has made a major contribution of his time, effort, and energy to serve the Fraternity and improve its stature; has distinguished himself in representing the Fraternity’s principles of Friendship, Sound Learning, and Rectitude; is widely recognized as a leader of fraternity men and identified with the promotion of fraternities; and has widely advanced and enlarged the opportunities for growth and leadership among college men through fraternities. For his lifelong and continuing support of his career industry, his community and family, and Phi Delta Theta, Brother Joseph W. Royce, Southwestern ’63, was awarded the Legion of Honor at the 2023 General Convention.
After graduating from Southwestern University with his bachelor’s in administration, Joe attended the University of Texas Law School, known for its intense and transformative JD program. Upon graduation, he was admitted to the Texas State Bar, where he has been a member for nearly sixty years. Joe has spent his professional life as an attorney working in estate planning, family wealth protection and transfer, administration of estates and trusts, and the operation of private foundations.
Throughout his long career, Joe has received numerous awards stemming from his commitment, innovation, and passion for people. Many consider him a national leader with outstanding professional accomplishments and community service. His peers selected him for inclusion in Woodward/White, Inc’s The Best Lawyers in America in the fields of Trusts & Estates and Trusts & Estates Litigation (2008-2023). In 2022 Joe was recognized as the “Lawyer of the Year” for Trusts & Estates Litigation in Houston by The Best Lawyers in America. He also currently holds the highest possible Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating, obtained when an attorney has reached the highest professional excellence and is recognized for their highest levels of skill and integrity.
Joe Royce is well-known for being an active alumnus of Southwestern University and was also an early advocate of retaining Phi Delta Theta ownership and autonomy of its property at Texas Gamma when the tide was changing to university ownership of Greek housing. He saw that house corporation ownership of the chapter house would benefit from keeping rent lower for chapter members and lessening college expenses for students and their families. His foresight has set his chapter up for continued success, generously giving both his counsel and financial support with this monumental project.
This brother is mission-minded and has selflessly dedicated his time and treasure with intentionality to invest in students. His tremendous financial support of the Phi Delta Theta Foundation has secured the future of generations of students in many ways. With his efforts, he has established multiple scholarships, notably funding two Whole Man Scholarships for the Texas Gamma and Maryland Gamma chapters, and has recently offered support to initiate the partnership with Phi Delta Theta and the Max Gruver Foundation to bring anti-hazing education into high schools. He currently serves as a Trustee of the Foundation and is a member of the Campaign Committee.
“The passion and care that Joe has provided Southwestern, Texas Gamma, and the Phi Delt Nation through his leadership and philanthropy have changed the trajectory of each organization. It was a privilege to honor Joe in Scottsdale with his family to illustrate the impact that he’s made on our brotherhood,” Executive Vice President and CEO Sean Wagner said.
In 2016, he was the recipient of the Raymond L. Gardner Alumnus of the Year Award, which is awarded annually to an alumnus who best exemplifies the teachings of The Bond of Phi Delta Theta through his activities in higher education and community service. His dedication and involvement have contributed to the continuous improvement of the Fraternity. He has been an active member of the Houston Alumni Club and regularly demonstrates that Phi Delta Theta is a fraternity for life.