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John T. Wigginton
John T. Wigginton
When John “Johnnie” Wigginton enrolled in pre-engineering at the University of Florida he planned to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a civil engineer. However, two years in he found himself shifted to the study of law because it centered more on human relationships.
While earning his law degree from the University of Florida, Wigginton became involved heavily in campus politics, a member of the social fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the legal fraternity Phi Delta Phi and Florida Blue Key.
Hard work and campus involvement paid off early when Wigginton was recruited by former governor and congressman Millard Caldwell to practice law in the small town of Milton, Fla. Wigginton took over for Caldwell when he was elected to Congress. In Milton, Wigginton was an active citizen, taking on such titles as city attorney, Santa Rosa County attorney, school board attorney and county prosecutor.
During World War II Wigginton served as a “special United States attorney” for the U.S. Department of Justice, where he handled the acquisition of large tracts of land for military complexes in Northwest Florida.
His interest in politics earned him the role of executive assistant in Tallahassee when Caldwell became Florida’s governor. Wigginton played an active role in the gubernatorial elections of Caldwell, Spessard Holland and Leroy Collins. Eventually Wigginton became partner in the Tallahassee law firm that later became known as Caldwell, Foster & Wigginton.
In 1957, Wigginton left his successful law practice to become judge of the inaugural bench of the First District Court of Appeals. He also served as chief judge for four terms until his retirement in 1974. He continued his public service by serving as the first executive director of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission Wigginton was well known for his leadership of the Fabisinski committee that drafted the first set of Florida’s civil procedure laws from common law practices. He also became the first president of the integrated The Florida Bar in 1951.
Wigginton and his wife, the former Jane Graham, had two children and three grandchildren. His son, John K. “Klein” Wigginton, also served on the First District Court of Appeals.