Dr. Joseph R. Willie
Joseph R. Willie, Sr. was born on December 13, 1925 in Dallas, Texas to Louis James Willie, Sr. and Carrie Sykes. A 1950 graduate of Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Natural Sciences, Dr. Willie then matriculated at Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1954. He began his private practice in Houston, Texas that same year and retired after 51 years of service to his community.
Dr. Willie served as Vice Speaker of the House of Delegates of the National Dental Association and is also a life member. He served as president of the Gulf State Dental Association of Texas, Inc. in 1959. Dr. Willie has been very active in the area of promoting and protecting the civil rights of Black Americans. In the early sixties, Dr. Willie, along with other members of the Charles A. George Dental Society of Houston were named plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the Harris County Commissioner’s Court. That lawsuit led to the integration of Sylvan Beach and also served as a precedent to integrate all of the open beaches in Texas.
In 1970, Dr. Willie and his wife Maurine filed a racial discrimination lawsuit complaining that after first accepting and signing the contract for the sale of their home, a Caucasian doctor and his wife refused to complete the sale after learning that the Willies were Black. The Willies prevailed and the southwest portion of Houston became open for Blacks to purchase homes.
In the early seventies Dr. Willie was part of the task force assembled by the Gulf State Dental Association of Texas, Inc. to testify before the Texas Legislature. That testimony was instrumental in the Title 19 (Medicaid) program being implemented in Texas.
Doctor and Mrs. Willie have been married 57 years and have two children; Joseph R. Willie, II, DDS, JD and Karen Willie Malveaux, MD and four grandchildren. Dr. Willie is a member of the Trinity East United Methodist Church and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Congratulations, Dr. Willie for 51 years of service to your community and your untiring efforts towards racial equality and access to dental care on behalf of Black Americans!
We thank you!