Alvin Wirtz

Alvin Wirtz

Alvin Wirtz was born in Columbus, Texas, on 24th May, 1888. After graduating from the University of Texas he became a lawyer in Colorado County (1910-1917) and Sequin (1917-1934). A member of the Democratic Party, Wirtz served as a state senator for Guadalupe Country.

Wirtz worked closely with Emery, Peck and Rockwood, a company owned by Samuel Insull. The company built a chain of privately owned dams and hydroelectric power projects on the Guadalupe River. After the 1929 Wall Street Crash destroyed the company, Wirtz was appointed receiver and advocated the formation of the Lower Colorado River Authority. However, many local farmers believed that Wirtz's business interests had cheated them out of their land.

In 1934 Wirtz was forced to leave Sequin. He moved to Austin where he established the law firm of Powell, Wirtz, Rauhut and Gideon. He was also appointed general counsel of the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). Wirtz became a close friend of Lyndon B. Johnson and together they helped the LCRA obtain grants and loans from the Public Works Administration, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the Rural Electrification Administration. In return, Wirtz helped Johnson's political career. He represented Johnson in the legal fight over his close victory over Coke Stevenson in 1948.

Wirtz also supported the political career of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He promoted his candidacy in 1936, 1940 and 1944. He also served as chairman of the National Youth Administration. He also served as under secretary in the Department of the Interior (January, 1940 to May, 1941). Later he was employed by Harold L. Ickes as a consultant on power affairs.

Wirtz was a key member of the Suite 8F Group. The name came from the room in the Lamar Hotel in Houston where they held their meetings. Members of the group included Lyndon B. Johnson, George Brown and Herman Brown (Brown & Root), Gus Wortham (American General Insurance Company), Jesse H. Jones (multi-millionaire investor in a large number of organizations and chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation), James Abercrombie (Cameron Iron Works), William Hobby (Governor of Texas), William Vinson (Great Southern Life Insurance), James Elkins (American General Insurance and Pure Oil Pipe Line), John Connally (Governor of Texas) and Edward Clark.

Wirtz was also an expert in oil and gas law and represented Sid Richardson and his various companies. He also did work for George Brown and Herman Brown of Brown & Root.

Alvin Wirtz died of a heart attack on 27th October, 1951. The Granite Shoals Dam was renamed the Alvin Wirtz Dam in December, 1951.