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WILMOT, LOUIS GONZALEZ

Maclovio Perez, Jr.

WILMOT, LOUIS GONZALEZ (1897–1982). Louis Gonzalez Wilmot, businessman, civic activist, local operatic tenor, and cofounder of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), was born on February 20, 1897, and was a lifelong resident of Corpus Christi, Texas. He was the son of Louis Wilmot, Sr., and Petra Gonzalez, also of Corpus Christi.

Wilmot was a grandson of George Wilmot, an Englishman who was born in Canada and traveled to Mexico during the Mexican War. George Wilmot married Maria Jesusa Gomez in Mexico before he entered the United States. Early census reports locate the family near Roma, Texas, about 1867. The family moved to the Corpus Christi area shortly thereafter.

Louis G. Wilmot married Ofelia Loza on June 6, 1920, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Corpus Christi. They had three children: Gloria, Louis Alonso, and Sylvia.

Wilmot was a jeweler and watch repairman. He apparently learned the watch business while working as a salesman for Stamm’s Jewelry Company, where he was employed in 1918. Eventually he owned Wilmot’s Jewelry Store, located on Leopard Street in Corpus Christi.

1st LULAC Conference
Photograph, 1st LULAC Conference in Corpus Christi, Texas, 1929. Image courtesy of the League of United Latin American Citizens website. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Even before the formation of LULAC in 1929, Wilmot was active in Hispanic civil rights. In 1924 he was an organizer of the Order of Sons of America chapter in Corpus Christi. The organization began in San Antonio in 1921. Wilmot cited the work of the Order of Sons of America as the foundation upon which LULAC’s success was based. He helped organize the 1929 convention in Corpus Christi that joined three civil rights organizations—the Order of Sons of America, the Order of Knights of America, and the League of Latin American Citizens—into what is now known as the League of United Latin American Citizens. Ben Garza, first president of LULAC, appointed Wilmot as the organization’s first treasurer general. He was later reappointed to the same position by second president, Alonso Perales. Wilmot was a lifelong member of LULAC and was quoted saying, “LULAC, in a sense, is my religion.” In 1974 LULAC national president Tony Bonilla, nominated Wilmot for a LULAC Distinguished Member Award.

Wilmot was an avid vocalist and devotee of the opera. He performed as a tenor at many civic and church functions from 1915 through the 1930s. Newspaper articles report that he presented many public vocal recitals during the 1920s and 1930s. One advertisement promoted Wilmot singing Spanish and English ballads at the Ritz Theatre as a warm-up to the film A Night at the Opera starring the Marx Brothers. Wilmot credited his singing skills for his opportunity to mingle with the upper class Anglo community. He also sang at Mass and special occasions at the Corpus Christi Cathedral. Former LULAC members recall that Wilmot began many meetings by singing “America, the Beautiful.”

Wilmot was a sales representative for the Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society which provided a death benefit and a distinctive tombstone for members.  He was a Catholic and a parishioner at Sacred Heart Catholic Church and also was often involved with special events at the Corpus Christi Cathedral. Wilmot resided for many years at 820 North Alameda Street. The property was razed for the expansion of Interstate 37. His last known address was 329 Old Robstown Road.

Louis G. Wilmot died of heart disease at Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi on December 8, 1982. He is buried next to his wife Ofelia at Rose Hill Memorial Park Cemetery in Corpus Christi. His tombstone is located near the front gate at Comanche and Palm streets.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

William D. Bonilla, Interview by Maclovio Perez, Jr., February 22, 2015, Corpus Christi, Texas. Corpus Christi Caller-Times, November 27, 1935; August 31, 1951; February 21, 1975; July 4, 1976.Richard Sanchez (grandson of Louis G. Wilmot), Interview by Maclovio Perez, Jr., February 23, 2015, Corpus Christi, Texas. Andrés A. Tijerina, “Senior Member of LULAC,” LULAC News, November–December 1979. Louis Wilmot Collection, LULAC Archives, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin. 

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Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Maclovio Perez, Jr., "WILMOT, LOUIS GONZALEZ ," accessed October 15, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwibi.

Uploaded on June 11, 2016. Modified on July 6, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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