Shrimping our Texas Gulf has been a way of life for the Wallis family since the spring of 1964. Moving to Palacios in 1956, Hugh Wallis became a partner in an outboard motor business with a friend Wallace Barr, whom he met while working for ALCOA. Together they formed their new business Palacios Marina located in the building where the Colter Company had canned shrimp and other seafood. Having a business on the South Bay waterfront and working closely with those in the seafood business sparked their interest to invest in the shrimping industry.
In 1964, they purchased their first gulf trawler, the “Gwen Doe” named after Hugh’s daughter Gwen and wife Dolores. Their first steel hull, the “Rainbow”, was built by M & F Builders, located ironically in the building where W & W Dock now exists in Turning Basin #2. Dolores Wallis took great pride in decorating these boats for the annual St. Anthony’s Shrimporee Blessing of the Fleet. Hugh’s son Craig watched intently as the new trawler was built and decided to make his first investment at the age of 16 in the “Blue Angel”, built in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Following the purchase of a new “Gwen Doe” and the “Cape Kennedy” in 1973, the “Jay Barr” was built and named for Wallace’s deceased father, the “Mildred Barr” after his mother, as well as the “Max”, was built in memory of Hugh’s deceased father. Craig, a graduate of the University of Houston with a BS degree in Mechanical Technology, and Keith joined the partnership and formed W & W Dock in 1979, at their present location formally Dumas Seafood. Craig and Keith also became actively involved in the Texas Shrimp Association where Craig has served on the Executive Board since 1981. Thomas Flores, a lifetime friend and employee since the age of 14, added to the W & W fleet trawlers named after his mother “Rosie F”, wife “Joyce”, and relative “La Evangeline”.
In 1982, Craig chose to name a new trawler after his wife ‘Linda June” and with her support and love of the sea became interested in managing coastline erosion by serving the Palacios Seawall Commission for over ten years and currently serves as its president. When exploring new avenues of diversification in 1984, Craig and Keith expanded their partnership by adding a 55-ton icehouse facility that not only supplies their own trawlers but other shrimp boats as well. Following the birth of their four children, Craig named a trawler after his children ‘Kyle and Courtney”, and Keith named two, the “Miss Kelsey and the “Master Alston”. Craig’s son, Kyle, has worked summers and after school since the age of 14, developing an admiration for the business and is now studying engineering technology at Texas A & M University.
The Wallis partnership has added two more trawlers to their personal fleet over the past two years with the “Dr. Bill” and the “Wallace B”. Managing and staffing twelve of their own shrimp trawlers and several for other local owners, harvesting and unloading Texas Best Gulf Shrimp, and operating an ice plant seven days a week demands a great deal of time and devotion – but for the entire Wallis family “netting a living” out of the Gulf has definitely become a rewarding Way of Life!