Dr. Wilfred O. Dietrich
May 22, 1924
June 22, 2019
Dr. Wilfred Oscar Dietrich, 95, devoted husband, lifelong educator, and ardent civic leader, died on June 22, 2019.
Visitation with family and friends will be from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 27th at Brenham Memorial Chapel. Wilfred’s memorial service will be conducted at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, June 28th at the Dr. Bobbie Morrow Dietrich Memorial Amphitheatre at Hohlt Park with Rev. Charles Stark, Rev. Glen Schoeneberg, and Rev. Patricia Dietrich officiating. A celebration of life reception at the Blinn College Student Center will follow the memorial service. A private committal service will be held at Prairie Lea Cemetery in Brenham.
Wilfred was born to Oscar and Lillie Meinecke Dietrich on May 22, 1924, on the family farm outside of Burton, Texas. While growing up on the farm, he was immersed in study whenever possible. Wilfred completed eight grades at Harmon School in May 1937, and was a member of the first graduating class of Burton High School in May 1941.
In 1943, Wilfred earned an Associate of Arts degree from Blinn College. Furthering his education, he earned dual Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in English, mathematics, and history in 1946 and 1948, respectively, from Sam Houston State University. In 1978, Wilfred earned his Ph.D. in English and curriculum instructions from East Texas State University, now Texas A&M University – Commerce. Wilfred received his doctorate the same year as his beloved Bobbie.
Wilfred began his teaching career at County Line School, and then taught for the Burton Independent School District for 16 years. Afterwards, he was a professor at Blinn College for 42 years, including forty years as chairman for the Humanities Department which oversaw English, Journalism, and Foreign Language studies. He was recognized for his accomplishments in 2004 by being named to Blinn College’s Hall of Honor.
Wilfred demonstrated his commitment to education beyond his career in academia; he established endowed scholarships at Burton and Brenham high schools, and five universities.
Wilfred was a lifelong member of St. John’s United Church of Christ in Burton where he served as teacher, deacon, committee chair, congregation chairman, and moderator for the Brazos Valley and the South Central Conference. He contributed more than 25 years to Scouting including two trips to international jamborees; his commitment toward positively influencing young men was recognized by BSA when in 1970, Wilfred received the Silver Beaver Award. Wilfred served more than 60 years on the Brenham Maifest Board, and was recognized on its Hall of Fame in 1984. For more than 20 years, Wilfred volunteered every other Sunday afternoon guiding visitors at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station. He was a longtime active member of the Lion’s Club; during which time, Wilfred held every local office (except treasurer), and additionally served for two terms in the district office as Governor-Secretary.
Wilfred was also passionate about his community. Wilfred actively supported the preservation of Washington County history by helping found the Brenham Heritage Museum, and served as co-chair (with his wife, Bobbie) or chair (after his wife’s death) of the Washington County Chapter of the Texas Historical Commission. Wilfred was proud that the Washington County Historical Association received more than twenty distinguished activity awards during his leadership. Additionally, Wilfred and Bobbie donned period costumes and opened their home to visitors in celebration of our national bicentennial in 1976 and the state/county sesquicentennial in 1986. Wilfred obtained markers for many cemetery projects including those for unidentified graves at St. John’s United Church of Christ Cemetery.
Wilfred was an organizer and president of the Arts Council of Washington County which brought in artists for the enjoyment of the community. His work with the Arts Council encouraged Wilfred to honor his late wife by building the Dr. Bobbie Morrow Dietrich Memorial Amphitheatre and gift it to the City of Brenham. He was a significant supporter of the Brenham Children’s Chorus, Simon Theatre Project, Senior Citizen Center, and the University of Texas Communication Building.
He was well known throughout Washington County for his commitment to service and historic preservation. Wilfred was honored by Sam Houston State University in 2013 as a distinguished alumnus for his work to conserve local history.
Wilfred Dietrich was preceded in death by his parents, Oscar and Lillie Dietrich; and his wife, Bobbie Dietrich. He is survived by his sister, Nevi Lauter of Brenham; brother and sister-in-law, Raymond and Virginia Dietrich of Houston; a niece, Laurey Nickerson of Katy; a nephew, Larry Dietrich, and his wife, Patricia of Brenham; and several great-nieces and great-nephews.
The family wishes gifts in Wilfred’s honor to be directed to: Sam Houston State University, Dr. Wilfred O. Dietrich Endowment Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 2537, Huntsville, Texas, 77341-2537.