Vernon Wallace Thomson: A Trailblazing Leader from Richland Center, Wisconsin



In the realm of politics and public service, certain individuals leave an indelible mark on their communities and inspire generations to come. One such remarkable figure is Vernon Wallace Thomson, a distinguished statesman hailing from Richland Center, Wisconsin. Born in 1905, Thomson’s journey from a small town in the heartland of America to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., is a testament to his unwavering dedication and tireless pursuit of public service. This article delves into the life and accomplishments of Vernon Wallace Thomson, a name that resonates with excellence and leadership.

Early Life and Education

Vernon Wallace Thomson was born on November 5, 1905, in Richland Center, Wisconsin, to Alva Allen Thomson and Ella Mae Wallace Thomson. Growing up in the close-knit community of Richland Center, Thomson developed a strong sense of civic duty and an unwavering commitment to his fellow citizens. After completing his education at Richland Center High School in 1923, he embarked on an academic journey that would lay the foundation for his future achievements.

Thomson’s pursuit of knowledge led him to Carroll College in Waukesha, where he studied from 1923 to 1925. Recognizing his potential, Thomson then transferred to the University of Wisconsin, where he graduated in 1927. Not only did he excel academically, but Thomson also actively participated in extracurricular activities, serving as a basketball coach and teacher while working his way through law school.

Early Career and Local Leadership

Armed with a law degree from the University of Wisconsin, Thomson began his professional career as an assistant District Attorney for Richland County from 1933 to 1935. During this period, he honed his legal skills and gained valuable insights into the intricacies of the judicial system. In addition to his legal pursuits, Thomson served as the city attorney for Richland Center from 1933 to 1937, demonstrating his commitment to serving his hometown.

A Steward of the People

Thomson’s dedication to public service extended beyond his local community. In 1935, he embarked on a political journey that would see him serve as a member of the Wisconsin legislative assembly for an impressive fourteen years, from 1935 to 1949. His passion for lawmaking and commitment to representing the interests of his constituents culminated in his appointment as the speaker of the assembly—an esteemed position that showcased his leadership skills and ability to bridge diverse perspectives.

In 1950, Thomson’s political prowess and unwavering dedication propelled him to a statewide role as Wisconsin’s Attorney General. For six years, from 1950 to 1956, he served as the chief legal officer of the state, diligently upholding the principles of justice and advocating for the rights of the people.

A Gubernatorial Triumph

Thomson’s unwavering commitment to the betterment of Wisconsin and its citizens led to a resounding victory in the 1956 gubernatorial election. From 1957 to 1959, he served as the Governor of Wisconsin, wielding his influence and executive powers to bring about positive change. Under his leadership, Wisconsin experienced notable advancements in various spheres, including education, infrastructure, and social welfare.

A National Stage: Congressman Thomson

Vernon Thomson’s dedication to public service and his remarkable leadership abilities caught the attention of the nation, and in 1961, he embarked on a new chapter of his political career as a United States Congressman from Wisconsin. For an impressive fourteen years, from 1961 to 1975, Thomson served as the voice of his constituents on the national stage, tirelessly working to shape legislation and champion causes close to his heart.

Legacy and Personal Life

Beyond his political achievements, Vernon Thomson’s personal life exemplified the values of family and community. On June 6, 1936, he married Helen Alice Davis Thomson, and together they raised three children: Vernon Thomson Jr., Susan Thomson Turner, and Patricia Thomson. Thomson’s dedication to his family mirrored his commitment to the welfare of his constituents, balancing his roles as a devoted husband and a public servant.

Sadly, on April 2, 1988, Vernon Wallace Thomson passed away in Washington, D.C., leaving behind a legacy of exemplary leadership and selfless service. His final resting place is in the Richland Center cemetery, a testament to the profound impact he made on his beloved hometown.


Vernon Wallace Thomson’s life is a testament to the transformative power of dedication, hard work, and unwavering commitment to public service. From his humble beginnings in Richland Center, Wisconsin, Thomson rose to prominence as a trailblazing leader, leaving an indelible mark on the local, state, and national stages. Throughout his distinguished career, he demonstrated his unwavering dedication to justice, compassion, and the betterment of his fellow citizens. Vernon Wallace Thomson’s legacy continues to inspire future generations to uphold the ideals of service and leadership, ensuring that his name will forever be remembered in the annals of Wisconsin’s rich history.