She went on to head the Dallas Bar Assn., as Estes had. She became president of the state bar, a position he had been about to assume when he was picked by President Eisenhower for the federal court. Both were workaholics. And they enjoyed each other's company.
Well after her clerkship, Miers could still be found at the Estes family dinner table on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. She lived a mile away, which made visiting easy, especially as the judge grew older.
Carl Estes said that "she became more a part of our family than most people would. She was a single woman, and the one thing I remember most about her was her loyalty. I guess it's like the old saying, 'If you have a daughter, you have a daughter for life.' "
By the late 1980s, the judge was afflicted with Alzheimer's, and Miers' face was one of the last ones he recognized. He died in 1989, the year she won a two-year term on the Dallas City Council. By then she also was running the law firm.
Five years later, Miers found a new mentor when she went to work as general counsel in Bush's successful campaign for governor in Texas.
This month, when Miers submitted answers on a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire examining her qualifications for the Supreme Court, she listed Estes as among her greatest influences.
She said he "helped to instill in me" the importance of judicial independence.
"He decided every case according to the law and facts, and he did not worry about the potential for a negative reaction to his decisions," she told the committee.
"He felt no pressure to please anyone. His only lodestar was the law."
Times researcher Vicki Gallay in Los Angeles contributed to this report.