(1914 - 2006)
Willard Walbridge grew up in Ohio, Colorado and New York. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1936, where he was the roommate of former United States President Gerald Ford. Walbridge entered the broadcast field in 1939, in Detroit, but with the world at war he joined the Navy. He served with honor and was awarded the Silver and Bronze Stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for bravery. When World War II ended, he returned to Detroit and helped put the new TV station WWJ on the air. He would soon become the station’s first manager. Walbridge later moved on to other stations and became a leader in the broadcast industry. In 1954, Walbridge was recruited to become the first General Manager of a new television station, KTRK, in Houston. His influence guided the station to become a prominent force in the large metropolis. In 1978, when the station was sold to Capital Cities Communications (and later merged with ABC Broadcasting), he was appointed Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs for the parent company. Walbridge would later be elected Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, a director of the International Radio and Television Federation and the Association of Maximum Service Telecasters and a Trustee of the Museum of Broadcasting in New York. He retired from Capital Cities in 1978 to devote more time to his personal interests and civic activities. A recognized civic activist, Walbridge was involved in the Houston Chamber, the Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Salvation Army, the Society for the Performing Arts, the Zoological Society, the American Cancer Society, the Boy Scouts and many more. A nationally known leader of the American Red Cross, Walbridge remained active in that organization until his death in 2006 at the age of 92.