Man known as the ‘father of the Mississippi Republican Party’ passes away

Wirt Yerger
Wirt Yerger(Grant Callen)
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 5:40 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The man known by many as the father of the Mississippi Republican Party has died.

Wirt Yerger Jr. passed away at his home in Jackson.

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 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, according to a copy of his obituary found on Wright & Ferguson Funeral Homes’ website.

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.

Visitation is slated for Tuesday, May 3, at Miller Hall at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson. He will be buried at Greenwood Cemetery.

Yerger was 92.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker released the following statement Monday afternoon regarding the passing of Yerger:

Wirt Yerger, Jr., was a trailblazer for the modern Mississippi Republican Party, who had a vision for what principled, conservative leadership could mean for our state and nation. Like many Republican officials today, I stand on Wirt’s shoulders and benefit 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.

Governor 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.”

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