SPEIR, WILSON EDWARD "PAT" (1917 ~ 2002). The following is a biography of Wilson E. "Pat" Speir, former director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. The biography was written with information provided by the Speir family and supplemented with information from his obituary.
"Wilson E. 'Pat' Speir, retired Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, was born August 28, 1917, near Gilmer, Texas, to John W. and Epsie Jane Ellison Speir. He graduated with honors from Gilmer High School and East Texas State Teachers College.
He began teaching in 1936, and later served as the first principal of Harmony High School in Upshur County in 1940. In 1971, East Texas State University named him an Outstanding Alumnus and in 1979, conferred on him an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree. In 1972, Baylor University awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree and cited him for his outstanding contributions to law enforcement. In 1982, he was again recognized with an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Wayland Baptist University.
He joined the Texas Department of Public Safety on November 1, l941, serving as a Highway Patrolman. In November of 1942, be was granted military leave and volunteered for the United States Army Air Corps. His unit in WW II was a part of the First Allied Airborne Army. He served for two years in the European Theatre participating in six battles or campaigns and was discharged in September of 1945. He returned to duty with the Highway Patrol, and over the years was promoted through the ranks, becoming Director of the Department in 1968.
Duty stations included Crockett, Henderson, Gladewater, Amarillo, Fort Worth, Pecos, Midland, and Austin. During his tenure as Director, he helped to institute policies that helped keep Texas free of much of the civil violence of the early 1970's. He also oversaw the racial integration of the Department, the computerization of eight million driver and vehicle records and over a million criminal history files, a new communication system and radio frequency allocation for Texas law enforcement agencies, the employment of the first female troopers, and a statewide construction program.
His lifelong commitment to Law Enforcement and the D.P.S. Family resulted in a huge number of enduring friendships over the years. He retired December 31, 1979. He was a past president of the Capital Area Peace Officers Association, the Texas Police Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In 1971, the National Convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars presented him the J. Edgar Hoover Gold Medal Award as the Nation's Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, and in 1994, was elected to the Texas Police Association Hall of Honor.
Col. Speir was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Austin where he served as deacon and was a past President of the Judge Zollie Steakley Bible Class serving as an associate teacher for over 30 years. He was also an active supporter of the Texas Baptist Children's Homes. In 1962, he received the Silver Beaver Award from the Buffalo Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Midland. In Austin he served as Council commissioner and President of the Capitol Area Council.
He became a Rotarian in Pecos in 1955, and in Midland in 1957. Upon his transfer to Austin in 1962, he became a member of the Rotary Club of Austin where he served as President in 1971-72. He was Rotary District 587 Governor in 1974-75. He was a Paul Harris Fellow and was honored with an International Service Above Self Award in 2001. He had been a Mason for more than 55 years and for many years was a Knight of the Austin Symphony.
Following his retirement, he served on the National Committee on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and taught for four years in the Department of Criminal Justice at Southwest Texas State University. He served as a Director of The Community National and First State Banks for 20 years. For several years he was on the Board of Directors of Westminster Manor, the United Way, and the American Cancer Society.
Colonel Speir passed away at age 84 on Monday, April 22, 2002 and was buried at the Texas State Cemetery."
Information taken from obituary, Austin American-Statesman, Wednesday, April 24, 2002 and other Texas State Cemetery file materials.