What a Lasting Legacy Looks Like: The Impact of Dr. Wally Wilkerson
What does a lasting legacy look like? For our readers, it should be apparent immediately that the author of this article is not the one that you are used to reading. It is with a sad heart that we must report what most of you probably already know: Dr. Wally Wilkerson, the longest serving County Chair in GOP history, passed away on April 29th due to complications from a recent surgery. Dr. Wally was always faithful in writing this article, never missing a deadline, even ensuring that his most recent in the May 2022 edition entitled Rescuers was submitted just before he went into his surgery. He wanted to make sure that it was on time and published and that nothing would get in the way of his commitment to this magazine. Dr. Wally always wrote about interesting and important things in his monthly article. It seems fitting that we continue this trend by focusing on his legacy.
Dr. Wally moved to Conroe, Texas in 1958, along with his wife Neddie, and joined the medical practice of Dr. Deane Sadler. Montgomery County was a Democratic Party stronghold in those days. In 1964, Wally attended a County Commissioners Court meeting to request a ballot box to hold a Republican Party Primary. He was laughed out of the room but left with the promise of the ballot box. Dr. Wally won the primary and became the Republican Party County Chair for the next 56 years. He established a headquarters in the State Hotel, where it remains to this day. In 1978, Republicans won their first local office, and by 1994 the GOP had completely taken over Montgomery County, with not a single Democrat holding office since.
Over his 56 years of service to the Montgomery County Republican Party Dr. Wilkerson became such a political force of nature that Karl Rove nicknamed him “Kingmaker” due to his involvement of getting George W. Bush elected as the Governor of Texas. Anyone who has the time to stop by the Montgomery County Republican Party Headquarters should do so just to view Dr. Wally’s Wall of Memories. On it you will find pictures of Presidents, Vice Presidents, and other well-known political figures. Old political yard signs, buttons, and bumper stickers from the Barry Goldwater campaign all the way to Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan adorn the wall. It has been preserved as if it were a museum.
As Wally pointed out in his last article that he wrote for this publication, “What you do matters, and history lives to tell it.” Dr. Wilkerson built the Republican Party of Montgomery County from nothing into one of the reddest counties in America. When he was elected in 1964, he won unanimously with 105 votes. In 2020, Donald Trump carried the county with 193,382 votes. But there was so much more to Wally then just politics. Over the years he served as President of the Sadler Clinic, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Doctors Hospital, and Board member of Conroe Regional Medical Center, volunteered his time at his church, taking shifts ringing bells for the Salvation Army at Christmas, and from 1995-2001 he was the Chairman of the Texas State Board of Health. Perhaps his finest legacy is the thousands of Montgomery County residents that he helped bring into this world by delivering babies in his medical practice.
Aristotle writes, however, that man is a political animal, and that the aim of man is to live the good life. Dr. Wilkerson led his life in this way. He recognized that the principles that he held dear were calling him to a lifelong mission to promote liberty and conservative values to influence his community. He involved himself in politics, an arena infamous for dirty tricks, yet he navigated it with superb Christian character. This is the legacy that Wally was proud of, and one that continues to influence and inspire thousands of people to this day.
Wally is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Neddie Jane Wilkerson; his parents Walter (Topsy) and Frances Wilkerson; his brother James Wilkerson; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins. He is survived by his daughter Nancy Brasher and husband James Brasher with their daughters Emma Brasher and Nora Brasher; son Mark Wilkerson, M.D. and wife Karen with their daughter Elizabeth Wilkerson and her husband Stefanos Touzos and their son Jake Wilkerson and his wife Sara Wilkerson; sister-in-law Gay Wilkerson; and nieces, nephews, cousins.