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Wallace Eugene "Pete" Snelson
Texas State Senator from District 25

In office
January 14, 1969 – January 11, 1983
Preceded by Dorsey B. Hardeman
Succeeded by Bill Sims
Texas State Senator from District 29

In office
January 12, 1965 – January 10, 1967
Preceded by Frank Owen, III
Succeeded by Joe Christie
Texas State Representative from District 102

In office
January 10, 1961 – January 8, 1963
Preceded by Louis H. Anderson
Succeeded by William S. "Bill" Davis (altered District 77: Midland County)

Gene Hendryx (altered District 72: Brewster, Crane, Pecos, Upton, and Ward counties)

Personal details
Born (1923-03-28)March 28, 1923
Grandfalls, Texas, USA
Died April 26, 2014(2014-04-26) (aged 91)
Georgetown, Texas, USA
Resting place Texas State Cemetery, Austin, Texas
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Susan Sutton Snelson (married 1959–2014, his death)
Children Gene Snelson

Mrs. Sandy S. Yaklin
Steve Snelson
Shane Snelson

Residence Midland, Texas

Austin, Texas
Georgetown, Texas

Alma mater Grandfalls-Royalty High School

University of Texas at El Paso
Northwestern University

Occupation Businessman:

Advertising and investments
Oilman
Educational consultant
Former journalist

Religion Presbyterian
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Battles/wars Battle of Cherbourg in World War II

Wallace Eugene Snelson, known as W. E. "Pete" Snelson (March 28, 1923 – April 26, 2014), was a businessman, former journalist, and decorated World War II United States Army officer from his adopted city of Midland, Texas, who served nonconsecutive terms as a Democrat in both houses of the Texas State Legislature from 1961 to 1983. He represented District 102 (Crane, Midland, Pecos, and Upton counties) in the Texas House of Representatives from 1961 to 1963, District 29 in the Texas Senate from 1965 to 1967, and District 25 in the state Senate from 1969 to 1983.[1]

BackgroundEdit

The sixth of seven children, Snelson was born in Grandfalls in Ward County, south of Odessa, a community named for the "grand falls" of the Pecos River. He was the salutatorian of his graduating class from Grandfalls-Royalty High School. He then became the news editor and advertising manager for the Grandfalls Gazette. In 1940, he enrolled in the journalism department at the University of Texas at El Paso, then known as the Texas College of Mines in El Paso. While in college, he was a full-time sports editor for the El Paso Times. In 1943, Snelson entered Army basic training and was sent to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska, to study the German language, history, and culture. He joined the 44th Infantry Division, Company B of the 324th Infantry Regiment, which was dispatched to Cherbourg, France. On November 13, 1944, Snelson was wounded when his company attacked the German line in the Vosges Mountains. After recuperation requiring three months, he was named a Special Agent in the 307th Counter Intelligence Corp detachment at 7th Army Headquarters. He received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Combat Infantryman Badge and was thereafter discharged as a technical sergeant, commissioned as a lieutenant, and named a commander of the Counter Intelligence Corps at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.[2]

Snelson finished his degree at the Texas College of Mines and taught journalism there briefly. In 1948, he enrolled in the Masters of Journalism program at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. With his advanced degree in hand, he moved to Midland, having been named a vice-president of nearby Odessa College, a community college in Odessa in Ector County. He was elected president of the statewide Jaycees and named the outstanding state president of that organization. He left Odessa College in 1955 and established Snelson Advertising in Midland, which he operated until 1990. On May 31, 1959, he married the former Susan Sutton of Denver, Colorado.[2]

Political careerEdit

In 1960, he was elected to the state House of Representatives when he unseated three-term fellow Democrat Louis H. Anderson of Midland. He left the House after one term. Beginning in 1963, Midland was removed from District 102 to the newly established District 77, to which a Republican, William S. "Bill" Davis, was elected for a single term in 1962, preceding a second Republican, Frank Kell Cahoon, the only member of his party in either house of the legislature in the 1965 session. A separate District 72 encompassed Brewster County, Snelson's native Ward County, as well as Crane, Pecos, and Upton counties, which were also in the previous District 102. In 1964, Snelson was elected to the Senate District 29 seat (Culberson, Ector, El Paso, Hudspeth, Loving, Midland, Reeves, Ward, and Winkler counties) and served for two years. He switched to District 25 beginning in 1969 and served until 1983. There were two-year gaps between his House and Senate District 29 service and again between Senate District 29 and District 25 tenures.[1]

In the 1968 Democratic primary in District 25 (Bandera, Brewster, Coke, Comal, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, Edwards, Gillespie, Glasscock, Irion, Jeff Davis, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Llano, Loving, Mason, Midland, Pecos, Presidio, Reagan, Real, Reeves, Schleicher, Sterling, Sutton, Terrell, Tom Green, Upton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Ward, and Winkler counties), Snelson unseated veteran State Senator Dorsey B. Hardeman of San Angelo; that Fall he defeated the Republican nominee, Ernest Angelo, later the mayor of Midland and a leading figure in the Ronald W. Reagan campaigns in Texas.[3]

At times Snelson was the chairman of the Senate Education, Oil and Gas, and Intergovernmental Relations committees. He also served on the Legislative Budget Board and the Sunset Advisory Commission. In 1971, he was elected Senate President Pro Tempore and served as governor for a day on December 4 of that year, when both governor Preston Smith and Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes were out of state. On September 1, 1981, he began a four-month stint as the Dean of the Senate.[1]

Snelson considered his sponsorship of the Early Childhood Intervention Program as the most successful work of his legislative career. Snelson's program, which includes those under the age of three years, became the national model to assist developmentally-delayed children. Upon leaving the Senate, Snelson operated the Six-S Properties, an oil company, as well as Snelson Advertising. In 1989, he became a legislative consultant for education, an activity in which he engaged for nineteen years until his retirement in 2008.[2]

Snelson was affiliated with the Masonic lodge, Lions Club, and the Southern Regional Education Board, which administers a compact among fourteen states.[1]

DeathEdit

Snelson died at the age of 92 at his home in Georgetown in suburban Williamson County near Austin. The Snelsons had four children and ten grandchildren. Services were held on May 3 at Central Presbyterian Church in Austin. Interment followed at the Texas State Cemetery.[2]

At the time Snelson left the state Senate, Texas Monthly described him accordingly: "Conservative Democrat. Midland. Not flashy but a devotee of Grover Cleveland's maxim, 'Honor lies in honest toil.'"[2]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "W. E. "Pete" Snelson". Texas Legislative Reference Library. http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=544&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=Snelson~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=. Retrieved May 1, 2014. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "W. E. "Pete" Snelson (1923-2014)". The Odessa American. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/oaoa/obituary.aspx?n=we-snelson-pete&pid=170874563&fhid=5106#sthash.VfxkYlRK.dpuf. Retrieved May 1, 2014. 
  3. Billy Hathorn, "Mayor Ernest Angelo, Jr., of Midland and the 96-0 Reagan Sweep of Texas, May 1, 1976," West Texas Historical Association Yearbook Vol. 86 (2010), p. 79, Yearbook renamed in 2013 as The West Texas Historical Review
Unrecognised parameter
Preceded by
Louis H. Anderson
Texas State Representative from District 102 (Crane, Midland, Pecos, and Upton counties)

Wallace Eugene "Pete" Snelson
1961–1963

Succeeded by
William S. "Bill" Davis (District 77)

Gene Hendryx (District 72)

Unrecognised parameter
Preceded by
Frank Owen, III
Texas State Senator from District 29 (Culberson, Ector, El Paso, Hudspeth, Loving, Midland, Reeves, Ward, and Winkler counties)

Wallace Eugene "Pete" Snelson
1965–1967

Succeeded by
Joe Christie
Preceded by
Dorsey B. Hardeman
Texas State Senator from District 25 (Bandera, Brewster, Coke, Comal, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, Edwards, Gillespie, Glasscock, Irion, Jeff Davis, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Llano, Loving, Mason, Midland, Pecos, Presidio, Reagan, Real, Reeves, Schleicher, Sterling, Sutton, Terrell, Tom Green, Upton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Ward, and Winkler counties)

Wallace Eugene "Pete" Snelson
1969–1983

Succeeded by
Bill Sims

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