KATHY LU COOKE MARTIN
ROCKDALE – Kathy Lu Cooke Martin, 57, a lifetime resident of Rockdale and fourth-generation publisher of the Rockdale Reporter, died Feb. 8.
She was born Oct. 28, 1959, in Rockdale, where she grew up, married the love of her life and worked for the newspaper her family has owned and operated since her great grandfather purchased it in 1911.
Martin helped out working at the Reporter while she was in high school, a job she juggled with her love of cheerleading. Before returning to the newspaper in 2000, she worked for an oil company and a hospital, then spent 17 years in business as a hair stylist.
She took over as publisher of the Reporter in 2010 after 10 years working in advertising, eventually becoming ad manager. Throughout the years, she wrote a weekly column on activities in her hometown.
Active in the Rockdale community, Martin was a former president of the Rockdale Noon Lions Club, a member of Rockdale Chamber of Commerce and the Rockdale Downtown Association. Her father, Bill Cooke, described her as “a people-person publisher, just what any community needs.”
She also continued her family’s tradition of participation in the Texas Press Association, serving on the TPA board of directors and as president of the regional South Texas Press Association.
Funeral services were held Feb. 11 at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Rockdale.
Survivors include her husband, Bill Martin; two daughters, Katie Morriss and Kennedy Cooke-Garza; her parents, Bill and Peggy Cooke; two brothers, Kyle and Ken Cooke; and two grandchildren.
ROY HELEN ACKERS
ABILENE – Roy Helen Ackers, known as the long-time Abilene Reporter-News columnist “Miz Cheevus,” died Feb. 11 at age 95 after a short illness.
After graduation as valedictorian from Anson High School in 1938, she taught at Draughon’s Business College, had courses in drama and English at McMurry College, and was the first woman in West Texas to earn a Chartered Life Underwriter diploma from Bryn Mawr College.
She worked in the business world for 48 years, almost equally divided among legal, oil and gas, and life insurance fields, including her own company, Roy Helen Mingus, CLU.
She was active in many business, civic, educational and arts organizations and endeavors, including helping to organize and lead the Abilene Symphony Orchestra Guild. In 2015, Mayor Norm Archibald called her “one of Abilene’s finest citizens.”
She was known for her collection of hats of all styles and her vitality, attending parties and other social events around town, and for her appropriateness with color: her hat, dress, sunglasses and sometimes hair were often color-coordinated for different occasions.
She taught Sunday School for many years and compiled, wrote and delivered the 50th-Year History of St. Paul United Methodist Church, which she joined in 1947 and attended until her death.
She was preceded in death by husband John A. “Bro” Mingus in 1980 and husband Dale Ackers in 1993.
She is survived by two children, two stepchildren, seven grandchildren and a sister.
Funeral services were held Feb. 15 at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Abilene.
Memorials may be made to the Community Foundation of Abilene, P.O. Box 1001, Abilene, TX 79604-1001; Hendrick Home for Children, P.O. Box 5195, Abilene, TX 79608-5195; or to the donor’s favorite charity.
CLEVELAND – Glen Dodson, 81, a columnist for the Cleveland Advocate, died Feb. 4 at his home in Cleveland.
After studying radio engineering at a technical school in Dallas, the Cameron native first moved to Cleveland in 1956 to work for KVLB radio. Most of his 30-year radio career was spent there.
After the station sold in 1987, Dodson began working for local newspapers as a writer and photographer, settling with The Advocate, where his last column was published Jan. 4.
As a former city councilman, past board president of the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce and former member of the Cleveland Lions Club, Dodson developed a vast knowledge of Cleveland’s history and its residents, many of whom became subjects in his column, called Musings.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Peggy; three sons; 10 grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.
Funeral services were held Feb. 8 at First Baptist Church of Cleveland with burial in Cameron.
DALE PATRICK LEZON
Houston – Dale Patrick Lezon, 62, a veteran reporter for the Houston Chronicle, died Feb. 3.
Lezon worked at the Chronicle for more than 16 years and covered natural and man-made disasters before becoming one of the paper’s main crime reporters. He came to Houston from New Mexico, where he had spent five years with the Albuquerque Journal, gaining awards and recognition for his extensive front-page reporting on a massive wildfire that roared through New Mexico in 2000.
He was heavily involved in the Chronicle’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the Space Shuttle Columbia accident. In recent years, he specialized in police coverage and helped lead the paper’s effort to provide breaking news on chron.com and houstonchronicle.com.
Prior to beginning his journalism career at age 40, Lezon taught English literature and composition for several colleges. In his non-teaching hours, he wrote poetry, fiction and plays.
He had recently started volunteering twice a week at the Heights Interfaith Ministries Food Bank.
Celebration of life services were held Feb. 18 in Houston with private, family graveside services at Woodlawn Garden of Memories, also in Houston.
Memorials may be made to the Heights Interfaith Ministries Food Pantry at 3523 Beauchamp St. Houston, TX 77009, or online at https://himfoodpantry.org/home/contributions/
LIVINGSTON – Constance Sherley, one of the first woman travel reporters in Texas newspapers, died Jan. 5 at her home in Livingston. She was 91.
A native of Taylor, she first worked for the Taylor Daily Press. Shortly afterward she joined the staff of the Austin American Statesman and became the paper’s primary travel reporter. Her assignments took her to the major destinations in the U.S. and around the world.
She later left the Statesman staff and with her second husband, Gordon Quarnstrom, created a travel news service that teamed with national tourist bureaus of several nations to present travel tips and advice for those destinations.
She was most proud of her role in opening doors for many women journalists who followed her.
She was preceded in death by Quarnstrom and her first husband, Richard Sherley. Survivors include her son, Richard Sherley; daughter, Stancie McClellan; four grandchildren, and a brother.
DONNA STEPH HANSARD RIAN
PLANO – Donna Steph Hansard Rian, 59, who covered the retail industry for the Dallas Morning News in the 1980s, died Jan. 25.
Rian was born in Dallas and grew up in Tyler, where she graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1975. She received an associate’s degree from Tyler Junior College and in 1978 a bachelor’s degree in retailing from Texas Christian University.
Shortly after graduation, she landed a sales job at Neiman Marcus after writing to retail icon Stanley Marcus asking for advice on getting into the business.
Starting in a clerical position with the The News’ business desk in 1981, she became a business news reporter and found the retail beat a natural fit. In the 1980s, Rian’s byline was Donna Hansard and later Donna Steph Hansard, incorporating her maiden name.
Rian covered a great deal of retailing history during the 1980s, when The News and the Dallas Times Herald competed to break stories. Her front-page stories included J.C. Penney’s move to Plano from New York. Also during the decade, old-line Texas department stores Sanger Harris, Foley’s and Joske’s changed hands or merged, and Texas repealed its 24-year-old blue law, opening shopping to seven days a week.
She left the newspaper in 1988 to become a freelance writer and raise her two daughters. In 2002, she joined UT Southwestern as a media manager. In 2007, she became a public relations specialist for Texas Health Resources. At the time of her death, she was a freelance writer for the University of Texas at Dallas and some foundations.
In addition to her husband Russ, Rian is survived by two daughters, a sister and a brother.
Memorials may be made to any cat shelter or rescue, or one of three centers at UT Southwestern: the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care, the Alzheimer’s Disease Center or Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute.
AUSTIN – True crime author and Texas Monthly writer Gary Cartwright, 82, died Feb. 22 at Seton Medical Center in Austin.
Originally a newspaperman, Cartwright spent much of his career at Texas Monthly magazine, where he was among the first writers hired in the 1970s. He remained among its most durable contributors until his retirement as senior editor in 2010.
In addition to Texas Monthly, Cartwright wrote for Harper’s, Esquire, Rolling Stone and Life magazines. He also produced numerous books.
He wrote all kinds of stories, but excelled at true crime, such as the spectacular case of Fort Worth millionaire Cullen Davis, charged with shooting his estranged wife and murdering her lover and her teenage daughter. Cartwright turned his research and reporting into a best-selling book, “Blood Will Tell,” which was adapted into a TV miniseries.
Born in Dallas, Cartwright went to Arlington High School. He attended the University of Texas and graduated from Texas Christian University. He started his career as a reporter for Dallas and Fort Worth newspapers and later worked as a sportswriter.
He was associated with other celebrated Texas writers such as Bud Shrake and Dan Jenkins, who worked with him under legendary sportswriter William “Blackie” Sherrod at the Fort Worth Press. Their works were grouped together in the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University, with the likes of Larry L. King, Billy Lee Brammer and Peter Gent as a generation of “Texas literary outlaws.”
Preceded in death by a son, Mark, Cartwright is survived by a son, Shea, and a daughter, Lea, as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Plans for a memorial were not announced.