April 23, 2002
Col. Wilson E. (Pat) Speir, Former DPS Director, Dies
Col. Wilson E. (Pat) Speir, director of the Texas Department of Public
Safety from 1968 to 1980, died in Austin Monday. He was 84.
During his 36-year career with the Department, Col. Speir served as a
Highway Patrolman, a sergeant, a captain, a regional commander in Midland
and assistant director before becoming the agency's fourth director.
Col. Speir's tenure as director saw the agency through a period of
tremendous change-both in personnel and technology.
"Col. Speir was an outstanding individual and a credit to law enforcement,"
said Col. Thomas A. Davis, Jr., director of the DPS. "During his career, he
was a national leader in the police community during some very traumatic
times in our history. The men and women of the Department and the state of
Texas owe him a great deal for his lifelong dedication to public safety. On
behalf of the employees of the Texas Department of Public Safety, we extend
our sympathies to Col. Speir's family and friends."
The commissioned ranks were integrated, a process that Col. Speir once said
happened "very smoothly due to the cooperation of our employees." And women
also joined the commissioned ranks shortly afterward. "That was an
interesting change also, because there was a considerable amount of
opposition within the department," he said.
Driver license records were computerized-and a new statewide radio system
for law enforcement established-during Col. Speir's time at the helm.
"We had seven or eight million driver license records, all in individual
folders," he said. "I guess it was taking 30 to 40 minutes on the average to
get a return (information) on a driver license and that just wasn't
Before joining the DPS, Col. Speir had been a teacher and principal at
Harmony High School in Upshur County. Col. Speir once discussed his career
change, saying, "I got to know some troopers, got to know them personally. I
guess you could say I was recruited...I thought I would enjoy the work
After joining DPS on Nov. 1, 1941, Col. Speir took military leave and
enlisted in the U.S. Army in November 1942. He later transferred to the Air
Force and returned to DPS in 1945. He remained in the Air Force Reserve
until 1957, when he was discharged with the rank of Captain.
Col. Speir was a past-president of the Texas Police Association and the
International Association of Chiefs of Police. He received the J. Edgar
Hoover Award as law enforcement officer of the year from the Veterans of
Foreign Wars national convention in 1971. In 1972, Baylor University awarded
him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree for outstanding contributions to law
He was a graduate of East Texas State University in Commerce and was named
an outstanding alumnus of the university in 1971. He graduated from the
Northwestern University Traffic Institute in Evanston, Illinois.
In 1981, Col. Speir began awarding college scholarships to children of law
enforcement officers. Money for the scholarships came from donations made in
his honor when he retired. Forty-four students have received scholarships.
He was a member and past-president of the Austin Rotary Club and a past
district governor. He was a past president of the Capitol Area Council of
the Boy Scouts of America and a recipient of the Silver Beaver Award.
Col. Speir is survived by his wife, Marie, and their three sons.
Funeral arrangements are pending. Please call 512-424-2606 for updated
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