Walter Elmer Pope (1879-1944) was a longtime Corpus Christi attorney, state representative, and central figure in the development of his city. One of the most distinguished and colorful residents of Corpus Christi during the first half of the twentieth century, he was born on February 9, 1879, in Leon County, Texas. He attended public school in Leona, graduated from Burnetta College with a bachelors degree in literature, attended Fort Worth University and graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 1902.
Mr. Pope began his law career in Madisonville, Texas in 1902. He was elected District Attorney for the 12th Judicial District which included the counties of Leon, Madison, Grimes, Walker and Trinity. Mr. Pope resigned from that position in 1908 to move to Corpus Christi. There he formed a law partnership with G.R. Scott, a prominent attorney and land agent. Gordon Boone, a future mayor of Corpus Christi, joined the firm in 1911. Mr. Pope was elected City Attorney and also married Lucille Scott, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G.R. Scott, in 1912.
Mr. Pope was elected to the Texas legislature in 1916. In 1924, he resigned from the legislature to launch an unsuccessful bid for governor. He was re-elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1928 and held that position until 1940. An influential member of the legislature, Mr. Pope was affectionately called "Uncle Elmer" by family, friends, and colleagues. During his twenty-two years in the Texas House, Mr. Pope was credited with having introduced more bills than any other representative or senator of his time. In 1917, Mr. Pope sponsored a bill calling for remission of ad valorem taxes to help finance the building of the seawall for Corpus Christi. In 1919, he sponsored a similar bill to help finance the construction of the Port of Corpus Christi, in addition to donating land where the first turning basin was dug. Mr. Pope introduced bills which provided for the construction of a highway to the Rio Grande Valley, and the purchase of 90,000 acres of land on Padre Island for use as public parks.
In 1917, Mr. Pope purchased the Corpus Christi Democrat and changed the paper's name to the Corpus Christi Times. He sold the Times in 1928 to finance the construction of the ten story Medical Professional Building, a sign of modern architecture for Corpus Christi. As a land agent, he was involved in numerous land development projects throughout the city. He was instrumental in the establishment of Texas A&I University in Kingsville. Mr. Pope likewise worked on the building of a causeway to Padre Island, along with various bayfront improvement projects in Corpus Christi.
W.E. Pope died on November 2, 1944 from a cerebral hemorrage, and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Corpus Christi. His list of accomplishments for Corpus Christi lives on in the documents he generated during a lifetime of service for his city and region.
The W.E. Pope Papers consist of approximately seventy linear feet of materials. They contain a wealth information on the history of Corpus Christi, South Texas, and Texas, as well as on Mr. Pope's many positive contributions to the development of his city and state. The collection consists of three groups of records which are arranged in the following order: (1) the office files of the Corpus Christi law firm of Scott, Boone, & Pope; (2) the legislative and other correspondence of W.E. Pope during his tenure in the Texas House of Representatives; and (3) W.E. Pope's real estate and other business office files. The documents date from 1832 to 1944, with a few biographical items dealing with Mr. Pope written during the 1960s and 1970s.
The W.E. Pope Papers were donated to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Library in 1991 by Judge Jack Pope, Retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas. As W.E. Pope's nephew and protege, Judge Pope had carefully retained the papers since his uncle's death.
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