Thomas Frederick “Fred” Wicker, a former circuit judge and state senator and father of U.S Sen. Roger Wicker, died Friday morning at a Memphis hospital. He was 98.

“My father spent his life in service to our country and our family,” Sen. Roger Wicker said in a statement. “A World War II veteran, a public servant, a dedicated husband and father, and faithful Christian, he was a role model for many – and he was my hero. Our family is devastated to lose him, but we are grateful for a life well-lived, the wisdom he instilled in us, and the many years we spent together. On behalf of the entire Wicker family, Gayle and I deeply appreciate the expressions of sympathy and prayers we have received.”

Fred Wicker was born in Hickory Flat and attended Holmes Junior College on an athletic scholarship. He was drafted in the U.S. Army in 1942. He served in France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, England, Luxemburg and most noteworthy in Normandy earning four battle stars.

Fred Wicker received his law degree from Ole Miss in 1948, married Wordna Threadgill and opened up his law practice in Pontotoc. He served as a city attorney, county prosecutor and served in the Mississippi Senate for three years before being appointed by Gov. John Bell Williams as circuit judge for the 1st Judicial District in 1970. He served in that seat for 20 years and retired in 1990.

Judge Wicker is survived by three children, a foster daughter, five grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.  

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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.