Corpus Christi has been the home of numerous "larger than life" figures...both male and female...who have contributed immeasurably to the growth and success of the city.
One such person was Walter Elmer Pope (1879-1944).
Born in Leon County, Texas, Pope came to Corpus Christi in 1908 and formed a law partnership with G. R. Scott.
In 1912, he married Lucille Scott the daughter of his law partner.
In that same year, Pope was elected City Attorney.
In 1916, he was elected to the Texas Legislature and even made an unsuccessful run for the office of Governor in 1924.
He would serve in the Texas House of Representatives until 1940, sponsoring more bills than any representative of his time.
He was perhaps the most influential person to ever represent Corpus Christi and the region.
He was instrumental in securing funds for construction of the Port of Corpus Christi and donated land that he personally owned for the site of the port's turning basin.
He was a major proponent of a seawall for the city and construction of a causeway to Padre Island.
Pope was also the major factor in securing funds for construction of a state highway to Brownsville and for the establishment of Texas A&I University in Kingsville.
In addition to his work in the legislature, Pope was a major figure in business and land development in Corpus Christi.
In 1917, he had purchased the Corpus Christi Democrat newspaper, and changed the name to the Corpus Christi Times. He sold the paper in 1928. The Times was purchased by Houston Harte and Bernard Hanks, who also purchased the Corpus Christi Caller in 1929.
On November 29, 1929 the first edition of the Caller-Times was published. W. E. Pope used the money he received in the sale of his newspaper to finance construction of his Medical-Professional building on Chaparral.
This 10 story structure was one of the first modern skyscrapers in the downtown area and still stands today as the home of Sea Gulf Villa apartments.
W. E. Pope was defeated for re-election in 1940 due in part to his call for inquires into possible voting fraud in Duval County and his 1937 problems with the IRS over income taxes (which also caused Lucille to divorce him).
Pope died in 1944 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.
Robert Parks is a special contributor to KRIS 6 News. Parks was a history teacher at Carroll High School for 19 years and is now retired. His knowledge of Corpus Christi history makes him a unique expert in the subject.