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San Marcos Adventure (1962)

Gordon Wilkison

Sound | 1962

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  •  Big Willy George tells his part of the story 
  •  Frank Brown finishes the rest of the story 
 
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  • About the video
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In this short KTBC feature from July, 1962, Frank Brown and “Big Willy” George retell their boating trip from San Marcos to Corpus Christi. They completed the journey in twenty days, covering 475 miles by rowboat. Their trip is the inspiration for the Texas Water Safari, a race held every June, in which competitors travel by canoe from San Marcos to Freeport.
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 is 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.