Jon P. Wilcox ’58 from ripon to wisconsin’s supreme court

Ripon has had two alumni advance to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in recent years — Jon P. Wilcox ’58 and Michael J. Gableman ’88.

Wilcox, of Wautoma, Wis., served 15 years as a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice (1992 to 2007). He graduated from Ripon with a major in politics and government and a minor in history.

He also was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Wilcox served his country in the military police force and retired from the Army as a first lieutenant.

Wilcox then studied law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduating in 1965. He began practicing law in La Crosse, Wis., soon after. Not too long after he settled in La Crosse, he signed on with a law firm in Wautoma. Born in Berlin, Wis., and raised in Wild Rose, it was an easy decision to move back to his roots.
Once in Wautoma, Wilcox began practicing in both civil and criminal law. The most memorable case of his early career was being a part of a defense council for a quadruple homicide case.

After practicing law for only a few years, Wilcox was approached to run for the state legislature. He saw politics as a great way to further his law career and won an election in 1969. He represented the 72nd Assembly District of Green Lake and Waushara counties. He spent three terms as a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, while still practicing law in Wautoma.

In March 1979, a Waushara County circuit court judge unexpectedly died. Wilcox won the subsequent election as a write-in and served for 13 years in that position. During this time, he also served as the chief judge of the Sixth Judicial Administrative District and chairman of the Wisconsin Committee of Chief Judges.

When a State Supreme Court seat opened in 1992, Gov. Tommy Thompson selected Wilcox, who spent 15 years on the bench before deciding not to run for re-election. He still works as a consultant for appellate work in Madison.

He also keeps busy tending to his farm in Wautoma and gives credit to Ripon College for influencing his career.

“The nature of the liberal arts educated me in a very broad background of knowledge and made me become an even more avid reader and writer — the two basic prerequisites for practicing law in my mind,” Wilcox says


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