Talladega mourns passing of Mr. Wilby Wallace Jr.
June 14, 2023
(Talladega, AL) The City of Talladega extends sincere condolences to the family of former Talladega Police Chief Wilby Wallace Jr., an esteemed leader who leaves a vast and inspiring legacy.
Mr. Wallace, who passed away on June 9, 2023, made history when he became the first African American police officer for the City of Talladega in 1965. He was promoted to sergeant, detective, captain, and assistant chief before making history again by becoming the first African American to serve as acting police chief. Throughout his life, he broke barriers and paved the way for others to reach their full potential.
“By aiming high, working diligently and maintaining excellent standards, Mr. Wallace made it possible for me and for countless other African Americans in law enforcement to advance in our careers,” said Talladega Police Chief Diane Thomas. “In addition, he was instrumental in the passing of numerous bills related to police work and the establishment of the first police academy in Alabama.”
City Manager Seddrick Hill Sr. added, “While Mr. Wallace will be remembered for breaking color barriers, he will also be remembered for his commitment to God, family and community. The City of Talladega is fortunate to have had such an exemplary citizen whose work reached beyond our community’s boundaries and positively impacted our entire state.”
“Wilby Wallace was a dear friend and a wonderful person,” said City Council President Dr. Horace Patterson. “He will be fondly remembered as a dedicated leader who consistently sought to improve and uplift our community. He earned his place in history relatively early in life, and continued to contribute selflessly to Talladega for decades.”
Mr. Wallace’s personal and professional accomplishments were vast and varied. In 1982, he was appointed assistant prison commissioner by Governor George Wallace. He was appointed deputy commissioner by Governor Jim Folsom and Governor Guy Hunt for two terms; acting commissioner by Governor Fob James; and deputy commissioner by Governor Don Seigelman. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the Selective Service Board of Alabama, which he served on for 20 years.
Mr. Wallace was a member of Mt. Canaan Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon and sang with the male chorus and senior adult choir. In recognition of his many contributions to society, he received numerous honors and accolades. In 2015, he was named 2015 Man of the Year by Mt. Canaan Baptist Church.
A celebration of Mr. Wallace’s life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, June 16, 2023, at Mt. Canaan Baptist Church. Visitation will be held from 1-7 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, 2023, at Terry's Metropolitan Mortuary.