Wirt Yerger Jr, 'FAther' Of Mississippi Gop, Dies At 92

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A private burial and memorial service was scheduled Wednesday for a man known by many as the father of the Mississippi Republican Party.

Wirt Yerger Jr. died Monday at his home in Jackson, Wright and Ferguson Funeral Homes confirmed. He was 92.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker described Yerger as “a trailblazer for the modern Mississippi Republican Party, who had a vision for what principled, conservative leadership could mean for our state and nation.”

In a statement, Wicker said he stood on Yerger's shoulders and has benefited “from the foundation he helped to create.”

“I appreciate his good leadership and will miss his friendship. Gayle and I send our condolences to his family, including his wife, Mary, and their children, as they mourn his loss and celebrate a life well-lived,” Wicker said.

Gov. Tate Reeves remembered Yerger as a “visionary” and as a friend, adding, “We are terribly saddened to hear of his passing, but we are confident that his legacy will endure for many years to come.”

Yerger, was named chairman emeritus of the Mississippi Republican Party in 2009 and was one of Mississippi’s six electors who cast an Electoral College vote during the 2016 presidential election. He voted for Donald Trump.

“He was fiercely committed to both the party and the cause of conservatism,” said Grant Callen, founder, and CEO of Empower Mississippi, a nonprofit advocacy organization. “When Empower was only an idea, I went to Wirt to ask for his advice. Not only did he warmly encourage the idea for Empower, he wrote one of the very first checks to support the mission and volunteered to join our board of directors.”

“Over the last eight years, he and I would visit often, and he never stopped telling me how proud he was of the work we were doing.”

Yerger, a Jackson native and a graduate of the University of Mississippi, served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command. He later joined Ross & Yerger, Inc., Mississippi’s first insurance agency, which had been founded in 1860. according to an obituary provided by the funeral home.

He served as state chair of the Republican Party from 1956 to 1966 and was also chairman of the Southern Association of Republican State Chairmen. In 2009, he was named chairman emeritus of the state GOP for his work in building a two-party political system in Mississippi.

Yerger is survived by his wife, Mary; two sons and a daughter and 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Burial will be at Greenwood Cemetery at 10 a.m. Wednesday, followed by a memorial service at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson.