Greg Coleman, a former solicitor general for the state of Texas and a partner with Yetter Coleman LLP in Austin, died Tuesday when his small plane crashed in Florida.

Coleman, 47, was lead appellate counsel for the state for three years, and head of Yetter Coleman's appellate practice. He handled appeals of business torts, class actions, products liabilities, insurance, intellectual property and constitutional litigation.

"In all that he did, Greg exemplified the highest values of our profession – an abiding sense of decency and fair play, a strong belief in public service, and a tireless dedication to his clients and professional colleagues," wrote Paul Yetter in a statement.

In 1999, Coleman became the first Texas solicitor general, a position created by then-Attorney General John Cornyn.

Cornyn, now a U.S. senator, said in a statement: "Sandy and I are deeply saddened by the news of Greg's tragic passing. He was a dear friend, a first-rate lawyer, and an even better human being. This is a tragic loss for his wife, family, friends and the State of Texas. Our prayers are with Stephanie and their family during this difficult and sad time."

Coleman, who served as solicitor general until 2001, was board certified in civil appellate law and represented clients before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals and numerous state supreme courts and intermediate courts of appeals.

According to the Yetter Coleman website, Coleman received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1992, served as a law clerk for 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edith Jones in 1992-1993 and clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from 1995 to 1996.

Police reports say Coleman, who was piloting the Piper Malibu on Nov. 23, was bringing his mother-in-law and another relative to join the rest of the family at a Thanksgiving celebration in Destin, Fla.

The plane was met with heavy fog as it approached the Destin airport around 8 p.m., and crews found it upside down in Choctawhatchee Bay about 200 yards from the runway. Coleman and his two passengers died in the crash.

"Greg was a devoted husband and father, and a man of deep and sincere religious faith," Yetter wrote. "He inspired deep loyalty in each of us, and we will remember forever his graciousness, humility, and charity."

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