Obituaries published in the August 2018 edition of the Texas Press Messenger.
HOUSTON – Gene McDavid, a former Houston Chronicle executive and a lifelong newspaperman, died July 13. He was 88.
McDavid, who retired in 1998, began his Chronicle career 40 years earlier as a Linotype operator.
The son of a newspaperman, he grew up in Mississippi. By the time he was 19, he owned and published his own small paper, the Wilk-Amite Record in Gloster, Miss.
In 1958, when he was 28, McDavid and his family moved to Houston, where he enrolled at the University of Houston and worked nights at the Chronicle. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration a few years later.
McDavid became the Chronicle’s assistant production manager in 1964, vice president of operations in 1974, vice president and general manager in 1984 and president in 1990.
The 1990s were a remarkable time to lead a newspaper, said Tony Pederson, who spent 29 years at the Chronicle, becoming executive editor and senior vice president before he left in 2003.
Newspapers were teetering on the cusp of the digital age, and those years were “a precursor” to the rapid changes that would soon upend the field, Pederson said. The Houston Post shut down in 1995, ending a longtime rivalry and making Houston a one-newspaper town.
When Jack Sweeney came to the Chronicle in 1980 as advertising director, he immediately recognized McDavid’s skill.
“He was a mastermind production guy,” Sweeney said, able to nimbly juggle all aspects of newspaper production, from printing and inserts to buying newsprint.
Back then, Sweeney said, the Chronicle was publishing 750,000 newspapers every Sunday, and 550,000 each weekday — and “Gene was the man who coordinated all that.”
McDavid is survived by his wife, Betty Tinsley McDavid, and two daughters.
Larry E. Howell
DALLAS – Larry Howell, an opinionated wordsmith who penned columns as associate editor of The Dallas Morning News’ editorial page, died July 7. He was 80.
Howell often dealt with liberal social causes in his pieces for The News in the late 1960s, writing columns and editorials that sometimes clashed with the paper’s views on programs during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration.
One of his most famous columns in the newspaper was a piece highlighting that three of the four most recent presidents at the time — Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Johnson — were driven from office by either character or physical assassination.
Howell took delight in telling stories about his time as a reporter, including interviewing George H.W. Bush during his Senate race and playing a piano duet with Truman at an event in Missouri.
Howell grew up in Clinton, Mo., where he began his journalism career covering basketball for the town’s paper at age 13. He attended Central Methodist College in Fayette, Mo.
He later covered sports at the Sarasota Journal in Florida before finishing his bachelor’s degree in journalism at Southern Methodist University, graduating in 1961.
Howell was also an editor of The Texas Mesquiter, now known as the Mesquite News.
During his career, Howell won nine Katie Awards from the Press Club of Dallas. He was president of the association from 1973 to 1974 and bestowed awards upon the 14 returning Dallas County prisoners of war from Vietnam at the Press Club’s annual Gridiron Show in 1973.
After leaving The News, he co-founded a publication called Financial Trend in 1970. From 1975 until his retirement, he worked in investor relations.
He is survived by his wife, Ruth Howell, four children and six grandchildren.
Jean Rembold Froneberger
SAN ANTONIO - Former Baytown Sun staff writer Jean Rembold Froneberger, 86, died July 13 in San Antonio.
A native of Junction, she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1953 from the University of Texas at Austin.
Her career included stints as a staff reporter and feature writer for the Baytown Sun and The Bernardsville News in New Jersey.
As her family moved throughout the United States, South America and Europe, she served as co-editor of the guidebook At Home in Holland for expatriates living in the Netherlands. She also contributed freelance feature articles to The Texas Observer.
In retirement, she and her husband lived in Kimble County on their family ranch. She was a supporter the Kimble County Library and was instrumental in the Johnson Fork Cemeteries being designated as Historic Texas Cemeteries by the Texas Historical Commission.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 53 years, James C. Froneberger, in 2007. She is survived by three children and five grandchildren.
A memorial service was held July 21 at the First Presbyterian Church in Junction.