Yerger established the Republican Party in Mississippi, serving as State Chairman of the MSGOP from 1956 to 1966.

On Monday, Wirt Yerger, Jr., founding Chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, passed away. In 2020, the Mississippi Top 50 announced Yerger as one of three honorees in the 2020 Hall of Fame.

Yerger received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Mississippi and served as First Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command from 1952 to 1954.

“In 1954 Wirt joined Ross & Yerger, Inc., Mississippi’s first insurance agency, founded in 1860.  During his forty-eight years of leadership, the agency grew from three employees to fifty-three.  In February 2002, Ross & Yerger became employee-owned, and Wirt continued to serve as Chairman Emeritus.  He was the first insurance agent in Mississippi to hold both the CPCU and CLU designations and was the first Mississippian invited to be an underwriting Name at Lloyd’s of London.  He also served as President of the Mississippi Association of Insurance Agents,” the obituary states.

Yerger was past president of Metropolitan Boys Club, Metropolitan YMCA and Jackson Rotary Club. He received the Jackson Junior Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award in 1956 and 1960.

He also served as President of the Mississippi Association of Insurance Agents and was a former director of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, the Mississippi Insurance Council, and the Community Foundation for Mississippi.

“Wirt gave unselfishly and generously to his community. He was a past president of Metropolitan Boys Club, Metropolitan YMCA and Jackson Rotary Club.  He received the Jackson Junior Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award in 1956 and 1960.  He founded both the Metropolitan Crime Commission and Fondren Renaissance Foundation.  He was a former director of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, the Mississippi Insurance Council, and the Community Foundation for Mississippi, establishing one of their first donor advised funds. He was a founding trustee of Jackson Preparatory School and a member of First Presbyterian Church, where he served as a Deacon,” the obituary continued.

Yerger was the leader in establishing the Republican Party in Mississippi, serving as State Chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party from 1956 to 1966. He was also the Chairman of the Southern Association of Republican State Chairmen.

His obituary states that in May 2009, he was honored as Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Emeritus for his work in building a two-party political system in Mississippi. He ended his speech by saying, “The best advice I give to you is always choose principles over pragmatism and power. Standing on principles is not easy, you get tired and discouraged, but the satisfaction of accomplishing all you can for a better nation is worth it all.”

Visitation be in Miller Hall at First Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, May 3rd from 3:30-6:00 p.m. A family burial service will be at Greenwood Cemetery on Wednesday, May 4th at 10:00 a.m., followed by a memorial service at 11:00 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church.

Mississippi GOP Chairman Frank Bordeaux stated that Chairman Wirt Yerger led the way for the modern-day Mississippi Republican Party.

“He brought the organization home, for the first time putting responsibility for the party’s management into the hands of those who lived, worked, and raised their families in Mississippi,” Bordeaux said in a statement. “A man of service to his core, Mr. Yerger also served his country in the U.S. military and his family as a loving husband and father. In losing him, Mississippi has lost an unwavering advocate, a strong conservative, and a friend. My prayers are with Mary and their three children, as they mourn the loss of this Mississippi icon.”

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker said that Yerger was a trailblazer and had a vision for what principled, conservative leadership could mean for Mississippi and the 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,” Senator Wicker said.

Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and Speaker Philip Gunn also remembered Yerger and his legacy.

“As the person who established the modern-day Republican Party in Mississippi, Wirt will always have an important place in our history,” Hosemann said. “His legacy, however, also encompasses his acumen as a businessman, his philanthropic efforts in Jackson and the wider state, and his example as a family man. We are in prayer for the Yerger family today.”

“Words cannot convey what Wirt Yerger meant to the lives of so many. He lived an exemplary life – a man of faith who was a leader in his church, a leader in his community, a successful businessman, and a founder of the Republican Party in Mississippi. What a tremendous legacy,” Gunn said. “However, what meant the most to me was that Mr. Yerger was my friend. He never asked for a thing and showed genuine interest, love, and concern for me as a person. He truly loved his neighbor as himself and will be missed dearly.”

You can read the full obituary here