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Former Dallas Mayor Wes Wise Dies

City

Former Dallas mayor Wes Wise | Image by Sixth Floor Museum

Wes Wise, a former mayor of Dallas, died from natural causes on Friday.

Wise served as the 50th mayor of Dallas after his early career took a turn that resulted in him serving the city for three terms in the 70s.

“Although I have never had the privilege of meeting him in person, I am grateful for his service to Dallas in this demanding role at one of the most critical times in our city’s history,” Mayor Eric Johnson said in a statement.

Wise was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1928 and began his career as a radio announcer. He once told D Magazine that he ran for political office after interviewing candidates and being unimpressed. 

Westley Wise Jr. said that his father often spoke about the excitement of covering stories like the assassination of President John F. Kennedy while working as a reporter for a local television station. 

Wes served as mayor of Dallas from 1971-1976. While he was mayor, the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was being built as well as what is now City Hall. The city faced additional challenges as well, like the first legal battle against the Dallas City Council electoral system. 

Jim Atkinson of D Magazine wrote that Wise was criticized during his time as mayor for not providing leadership.

When Atkinson asked about the claim in a 1975 interview, the then-mayor responded with some influential changes that had occurred by that point in his tenure.

“I like to make decisions. Let me tell you about three decisions I’ve made,” he said. “I made changes at the Dallas Transit Authority when they were needed. I did the same thing with the Dallas Housing Authority board. And just recently, I proposed a campaign finance regulation ordinance for city elections. I did those things on my own, no one told me to, so I don’t really understand how people can say I duck decisions.”

He joined the council two years earlier and resigned as mayor in 1976 to run for Congress — where he later lost the Democratic primary to former Texas state representative Jim Mattox.

According to his son, Wise had recently been recovering from a fall in his Cedar Creek Lake home. He was 94.

“He was just a dad to me. He was funny, a great guy, always had an ear for people, and we will all miss him dearly.” Wise Jr. said.

Funeral arrangements are still in progress. 

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