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Texas Department of Public Safety - Labor Day Safety Reminder (1963)

Gordon Wilkison

Sound | 1963

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  •  Gov. Connally addresses the public 
  •  Col. Garrison provides the statistics of automobile-related accidents in Texas 
  •  Texas DPS’s plan of action 
  •  Connally appeals to state-wide officials 
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  • About the video
  • Texas DPS Texas DPS
  • Col. Homer Garrison Jr. Col. Homer Garrison Jr.
  • Gordon Wilkison Gordon Wilkison
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Governor Connally joins Colonel Homer Garrison, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, in a plea to Texans to drive safely over the Labor Day weekend. Garrison states 1963’s current number of deaths by automobile related accidents in Texas to be over 1,400 and estimates 31 more deaths over the Labor Day weekend.
Established by the Texas Legislature on August 10, 1935, the Texas Department of Public Safety was created by the consolidation of the Texas Highway Motor Patrol with the Texas Rangers. Since that time, its duties have grown to include such activities as the state licensing of drivers, vehicle inspection, narcotics enforcement, and the State Civil Defense Office, (now the Division of Emergency Management,) which aids local governments during times of natural disaster or social upheaval. While its duties have evolved over time, the mission of the DPS has remained constant - to provide public safety services to those people in the state of Texas by enforcing laws, administering regulatory programs, managing records, educating the public, and managing emergencies, both directly and through interaction with other agencies.
Colonel Homer Garrison Jr.'s lifelong Texas law enforcement career began at age 19 (shortly after graduating from Lufkin High School), when he was appointed deputy sheriff of Angelina County. In 1930, he joined the newly forming Texas Highway Patrol. When the Texas Highway Patrol became part of the Texas Department of Public Safety in 1935, Col. Garrison became the new agency's first assistant director. In 1938, his role changed to director of the DPS and chief of the Texas Rangers, a position he held until his death in 1968. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum at Fort Fisher is named for him.
Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation.  At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents. 
A particularly notable moment in his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas. 
Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.    
Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.