Jon P. Wilcox ’58 Receives 2019 Resource Award Of Merit From The Wisconsin State Council Of Trout Unlimited
On Saturday, Oct. 26, Jon P. Wilcox ’58 received the 2019 Resource Award of Merit from the Wisconsin State Council of Trout Unlimited in Madison. Wilcox was recognized for his life-long support of Wisconsin Cold Water Resources.
Wilcox grew up in Wild Rose and received his undergraduate degree from Ripon College in 1958 and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1965. From 1959 to 1961 he served as an officer in the U.S. Army. After serving his country, he started his own law practice in Wautoma and represented the 72nd Assembly district from 1969 to 1975.
On February 23, 1971 at a law office in Berlin, several men from Berlin, Wautoma, and Poy Sippi met in what was called an “organizational meeting.” That was the start of the new Wisconsin Trout Unlimited chapter, which would be called the Central Wisconsin Chapter. Wilcox was elected to serve on the board of directors for the chapter.
Wilcox fished in the local waters of Central Wisconsin as well as beautiful streams in Idaho and Montana with his good friends, Dr. Tom Poulette, Russ Younglove, Arling Erickson, and others.
Wilcox developed a love of trout and their beautiful environs and realized their habitat needed to be protected. As a state representative, Jon wrote and introduced Wisconsin to a bill in 1971 which proposed that Wisconsin fishing license holders who wanted to fish for trout pay an additional $1 for a trout stamp to fund trout habitat improvement. The bill did not pass, as the Department of Natural Resources did not think separate funding was a good idea at the time.
But Wilcox persisted and continued to push the bill for the remaining tie he was in office. He was then elected to the Wisconsin Conversation Congress from 1975-1980. During that tie he continued to push for passage of his bill. The trout stamp bill final passed and the first trout stamp came out in 1978 and sold for $2.50.
Jon Wilcox served as circuit court judge in Waushara County for 13 years and Chief Judge of the Sixth Judicial District. He was appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court by Governor Tommy Thompson in 1992 and elected to a 10 year term in 1997. His term expired in 2007 and he did not see reelection.
Throughout Judge Wilcox’s long career he remained a strong supporter and member of Trout Unlimited and its mission to improve trout habitat and protect our coldwater resources. The trout stamp program continues to this day and the cost is now $10.