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Peter Chantilis

Peter Chantilis
1934 1999

Professional Speaker, Author, Mediator, Lawyer, Colleague & Friend

Several years ago, I lost a colleague and a friend: Peter Chantilis passed away unexpectedly on March 6, 1999.

Peter's contributions were far-reaching both as a professional and as a humanitarian.

Peter contributed his time freely and regularly. If you take the time to read the long list of awards, credits and contributions listed in detail below, you will just begin to touch on his many the valued accomplishments.

Click here to go to Amazon.com to read more about Peter's great book.

Peter's book, The "Do Right" Rules was published shortly before his death and went into national distribution.

On April 14, the day before his 65th birthday, he was awarded the Dallas Lawyers Auxiliary's most prestigious award, The Justinian Award, in recognition of long standing dedication to volunteer service benefiting the community of Dallas in civic, cultural, educational, health, welfare, religious, and philanthropic endeavors. I was honored to be present to honor my friend.

Peter's legal practice spanned more than 42 years. He was also an early proponent of mediation and alternative dispute resolution and served as executive Director of the American Academy of Attorney-Mediators. He contributed much of his time to mediate cases through the court system pro bono and also taught mediation to judges and attorneys across the country.

Peter was also Chairman of the Zig Ziglar Tribute Dinner Committee.

Those of us who had the opportunity to know Peter and whose lives were touched by his energy, generosity and his zest for life will miss him.


Peter Chantilis was a practicing attorney and mediator who also volunteered his time to mediate cases pro bono through the court system and Dispute Mediation Services.

He was an early proponent in the emergence of mediation and alternative dispute resolution and taught judges and attorneys how to mediate throughout the country, all pro bono (with the exception of his work as the executive director of the American Academy of Attorney-Mediators.)

A nationally recognized speaker, Peter spoke throughout the Metroplex on "doing the right thing", mediation, effective communication and listening, and how to deal with angry people.

In his youth, Peter had been recognized as the Little Rock High School student "with the most school spirit"', which subsequently characterized his life.

Peter was to receive The Justinian Award. The Dallas Lawyers Auxiliary established the Justinian Award 60 years ago as a program to inform the Dallas community of the valuable time and effort lawyers freely and regularly give to organizations, committees, and boards, and that because of their special training and expertise, lawyers are sought after by these public groups.

Peter Chantilis was to have been presented the award on April 14, the day before his 65th birthday, for "long-standing dedication to volunteer service benefiting the community of Dallas in the area of civil, cultural, educational, health, welfare, religious, or philanthropic endeavors"'. Peter is noted for having contributed his energy and enthusiasm in not one, but all of these areas.

The award will be presented, as scheduled, to honor Peter.

He was born in Chicago on April 15, 1934, and his parents, Samuel and Rose Chantilis, both deceased, were born in Greece. He lived in Chicago and Little Rock until 1955, when he settled in University Park. He received his BBA and LLB/JD degrees from Southern Methodist University, which he attended between 1951 and 1957.

At SMU, Peter was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, and in 1984, received the ATO Outstanding Alumni Award. He was also a member of the Legal Aid Society, SMU Mustang band, and Air Force ROTC. He later served as alumni representative to the SMU Interfraternity Council. Peter also attended advanced negotiation workshops at the Harvard School of Law.

Peter Chantilis began his 42 years as a lawyer with Roy C. Coffee, Sr., as Coffee & Chantilis, later Coffee, Coffee & Chantilis, thereafter as Chantilis & Morgan, and in 1987, as Chantilis & Brousseau. After 1992, Peter was a sole practitioner and more heavily involved as a mediator of disputes. Peter belonged to the New York Stock exchange, the American Arbitration Association, and the National Association of Securities Dealers panels of Arbitrators. He was a member of the American, Texas, Dallas, and International Bar Associations, and was a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, a member of the Southern Methodist Alumni Association, and held various offices at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, where he had served as secretary and president of the Parish Council.

Peter had been elected a commissioner of and served on various boards of the City of University Park, and chaired the Citizens for University Park. He was instrumental in the construction of the pavilion and gazebo in Goar Park, which has become the focal point of the Park Cities' Fourth of July parade. He organized the Plaza Theater in Snyder Plaza. He had been a director of Bank of Texas and Security Bank, and had been a vice president and director of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce, vice president and a director of USA Film Festival, Inc., director of the Dallas Jazz Orchestra, director of Action of Christ Foundation, director and officer of the SMU Dad's Club, member of Board of Advisors, Highland Park Young Life, and was a member of the Washington Defense Orientation and Department of Defense Joint Civilian Orientation Conferences.

Peter was was a co-founder of the Park Cities Historical Society and a founder of the University Park Foundation, now known as the Philanthropic Foundation, which was active in cultural improvement, restoration, and rededication of the replica of the Statue of Liberty and creation of the Blackland Prairie Garden, both in Fair Park. He was active with the Park Cities Independence Day Parade and Festivities, frequently sponsored various Marine bands' appearance there, and was honorary chairman of the 1991 Drum Corps International Summer Music Games. He was active with and received a certificate of appreciation from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, chaired the ATO National Steering Committee, the Park Cities Sesquicentennial Committee, and was a member of the Greater Dallas Sesquicentennial Committee. He had been an advisory director of the Communities Foundation of Texas, Inc.

In 1995, Peter was the co-founder and vice-chairman of the board of trustees of the Kindness Foundation and served as Co-chairman of the Dallas Acts of Kindness Week.   He served as a president and a member of the board of directors of the Cotton Bowl Council, responsible for the Cotton Bowl parade, as director of the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association, on the executive committee for the Cotton Bowl Games, and was a chairman for the Maid of Cotton selection for the Cotton Bowl Council.

Peter had been vice-chair of the New Laws and Constitutional Amendments Committee of the Dallas Bar Association, and had served on the Dallas Bar Association Community Dispute Resolution Committee. He had been a panelist on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court interim trustee panel, the panel of mediators in the Northern District federal courts, and pro bono panelist for the Dallas Legal Aid Society, Inc. He was an alternate dispute resolution panelist for the Dallas Bar Association Bench and Bar Conference and was appointed by the Texas Supreme Court to the Citizens Commission on the Texas Judicial System dealing with constitutional revision.

Peter Chantilis had mediated over 1,300 cases by court appointment or request of parties and their counsel. He was executive director of the American Academy of Attorney-Mediators, Inc., chairman of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee of the Citizens Commission of the Texas Judicial System, and was a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution sections of the American, Texas, and Dallas Bar Associations, and the Dallas Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Family Law Section.

In 1994, Peter was president of the Professional Attorney-Mediators Cooperative, Inc., and served on the panel for Alternative Dispute Resolution for Alabama U.S. District Courts, and was on the register of mediators for U.S. Bankruptcy Courts for New York. In 1992, he was a lecturer at the annual conference of federal judges for the eastern District of Texas, and in 1991 was treasurer of the North Texas Chapter of the Association of Attorney-Mediators, Inc., and a member of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution. He had continued to serve as a mediator-trainer for the Attorney-Mediators Institute and Dallas Bar Association.

Peter was was featured with Dallas Chief of Police, Ben Click, in a discussion for youth at the Martin Luther King Core Building participating in the Dallas Park & Recreation Department's gang prevention program by The Legal Advocates for Minors Project, LAMP, in which he was active. He wrote numerous articles about alternative dispute resolution, including those for the International Bar Association. He was president of the Counselors' Toastmasters International, and was a member of the National Speakers and North Texas Speakers Associations. As a frequent lecturer with many radio and television appearances, as well as addresses to bar associations, banks, professional organizations, and alternative dispute resolution lectures and workshops for major businesses (such as IBM, Mobil Oil Corporation, Compass Bank, FDIC, and Deloitte & Touche), particularly on the topics of alternate dispute resolution, mediation, civilized behavior, and the benefits of humor in disentangling controversy, he commanded a wide audience.

While an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University School of Law, he wrote numerous articles concerning mediation, including University of Memphis Law Review: Mediation USA, "The Dawning of New era/the New Age of Professionalism"', "ethics-Meeting of the Minds"' (Texas Business, May 1997), and about wit and wisdom, Mediation USA, "eclectic Memories, etc..." Most recently he published The "Do-Right" Rules', which had been cited in "Dear Abby".

In the foreword to the book, Zig Ziglar described Peter Chantilis as one "with love and compassion for his fellow man (who) writes from his heart and a lifetime of experience."

Peter was also Chairman of the Dinner Committee of the Zig Ziglar Tribute an independent effort to recognize Zig for the positive impact of his message.

Peter Chantilis is survived by his son, Samuel John Chantilis, M.D., and daughter, Stephanie Chantilis Bray, whose mother is Frances Blewett Chantilis, son-in-law Bennie Michael Bray, his two grandchildren, Chad Michael and Alexis Irene Bray, his brother, Angelo Samuel and his wife, Zoe Carras Chantilis, and nieces and nephews Constance Angela Chantilis, Roseanne Chantilis Herskind, and husband erik Herskind, with children Madeleine and Gunnar Herskind, and Angelo Samuel Chantilis, Jr., and cousin Athena Shangas Shipp.

Memorial donations may be made to the Philanthropic Foundation or the Kindness Foundation, c/o 8160 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 320, Dallas, Texas 75231.


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