Dr Pepper Museum founder Wilton A. Lanning dies at 81

Wilton A. Lanning, co-founder and president of the Dr Pepper Museum died on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 81 years old. Lariat File Photo

By Reagan Ebb | Staff Writer

Wilton A. Lanning, co-founder and president of the Dr Pepper Museum died on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 81 years old.

Dr. Marshall Edwards, retired pastor of Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, was a longtime friend of Lanning’s. Edwards said Lanning was particularly satisfied with his family’s involvement in not only the town, but also in the church.

“Wilton was a thorough-going optimist, a man of practical, transforming faith, who was proud of his family’s legacy in Waco,” Edwards said.

On Sunday, a memorial service for Lanning was held at the Columbus Avenue Baptist Church. Hundreds of family, friends, police and citizens showed their support to the Lanning family. In a farewell speech given by grandson Austin Lanning, Wilton’s faith was commemorated by Austin.

“It was his relationship in Christ that made him a great man,” Austin Lanning said.

Wilton involved himself in a variety of areas around Waco. Born and raised in Waco, he attended Waco High School and graduated from Baylor University. Lanning then co-founded the Dr Pepper Museum and W.W. Clements Free Enterprise Institute. Lanning was also the former president and CEO of Tom Padgitt’s Inc.

Robert Lanning, son of Wilton Lanning, spoke at his memorial service about Wilton’s devotion to the town of Waco.

“He was passionate about Waco, I think that’s a bit over-documented,” Robert Lanning said.

Caitlin Lanning, Wilton’s granddaughter, praised her grandfather’s dedication to Waco.

“I’m sure he’s telling everyone in heaven the history of Waco, so don’t get too sad, they might be giving him back,” Caitlin Lanning said.

Caitlin Lanning gave insight on Wilton’s personal life. A true Baylor alumnus, it allegedly took Wilton three years to forgive his granddaughter for attending University of Arkansas. Lanning said when Wilton became a grandparent, he asked to be called Dr Pepper.

“My parents said no, so he settled for Pepper,” Caitlin Lanning said.

Though Wilton is gone from Waco, his legacy will live on within the citizens whose lives he touched. Robert Lanning ended his memorial speech with an afterthought of his father.

“If my father could speak to you today, he would say –– live your life without regrets,” Robert Lanning said.