1977 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Where you wind up in life depends on your own values and your own priorities."
Born in 1902 in Minnesota, Homer Surbeck was the son of a Prussian immigrant who became a small-town Presbyterian minister. His mother was a self-taught country school teacher. Surbeck credited his parents for his lifelong commitment to hard work and honest effort.
Graduating from high school as valedictorian, Surbeck ignored an inner urge to become a lawyer and enrolled in an engineering course at the South Dakota School of Mines. He graduated in 1924, but was unable to find a job. Finally, he attended Yale Law School on a scholarship. He served as editor of the Yale Law Journal and graduated first in his class.
Surbeck's success at Yale qualified him for a year as law secretary to the chief justice of the Supreme Court, William Howard Taft. Surbeck later clerked with the New York firm of Hughes, Round, Schurman & Dwight. The firm's senior partner, Charles Evans Hughes, later became chief justice of the Supreme Court. Surbeck quickly developed into a top trial lawyer and became one of the nation's leading experts on antitrust law. He was made a partner in 1934. In his 50- year legal career, he participated in some of the most complex corporate legal cases and negotiations of the day.* Deceased