-30- September 2016

These obituaries are published in the September 2016 edition of the Texas Press Messenger

Sarah L. Greene

Sarah L. Greene, 87, editor and publisher of The Gilmer Mirror from 1974 to 2006, died Aug. 2.

A Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame honoree and former Texas Press Association president, Greene was a third-generation newspaperwoman, following her parents, the late Georgia and Russell H. Laschinger, and grandfather, George Tucker, as publisher of The Gilmer Mirror.

George Tucker purchased the newspaper in 1915. Sarah Greene’s son, William R. “Russ” Greene, publisher of the Mirror since 2006, is the fourth generation of the family to serve as publisher of the newspaper.

As a young student, Greene got her start in newspapering collecting for subscriptions door-to-door, distributing funeral notices and running election results. During World War II, her high school years, the absence of advertising led to The Gilmer Mirror going from a daily to weekly publication and the staff dwindled down to just her parents, Russell and Georgia Laschinger. She remembered telling her mother that she would never go into the newspaper business because she never meant to work that hard.

She went to Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., for two years and later, in her junior year at The University of Texas, she entered the journalism news sequence. She worked for the Daily Texan, making many late night trips to the campus press as news editor to put the paper to bed. In 1949, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and reporting experience to help her when she hit the job market.

That June, she joined The Dallas Morning News and worked for three years as a city staff reporter. She left for Fort Worth after her marriage in 1952 to Ray H. Greene, then a Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter. In 1953 they accepted an invitation to move to Gilmer and join the family business.

While the Greene children, Sally and Russ, were small she worked mostly as a reporter, feature writer and proofreader, gradually taking on more duties as they grew up. She became co-publisher after the death of her father in 1974.

As writer and publisher, Greene earned many awards and honors. She twice received the Anson Jones Award of the Texas Medical Association for outstanding reporting of medical news. In 1996 the Association for Women Journalists honored her and 89 other “trailblazers” with a “Woman of Courage” award for showing “leadership, tenacity and integrity in working to improve conditions for women both in and out of the profession.” In 2004, she received the National Newspaper Association’s Emma C. McKinney Memorial Award, presented annually to a newspaper woman for distinguished service to the community press. She was the only Texan ever to receive the award.

In 1995-96 she became the second woman elected to serve as Texas Press Association president. Earlier, served as president of North and East Texas Press Association in 1989-90.

Greene was inducted into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2010 as one of four members of the Hall’s fourth class of honorees.

Greene's additional contributions to her community and the state reflected the wide range of her interests. She served on the Texas Commission on the Arts from 1977 to 1981. Following a deep interest in her native Texas, she was active in the Texas Folklore Society, serving as its president in 1988–89. She also served on the board of directors of Gilmer National Bank, as a trustee of Baylor Medical Center, as president of the Upshur County Chamber of Commerce, and as a director of the East Texas Yamboree Association. In 1981 she was honored as First Lady by Gilmer's Beta Sigma Phi for her community service.

In addition to her son, she is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Sally Greene and Paul Jones, and their son Tucker Jones, all of Chapel Hill, N.C.; and a sister, Mary Laschinger Kirby of Gilmer.

Funeral services were held Aug. 6 at First United Methodist Church in Gilmer.

 

Don Tabor

Don Tabor of Clyde, a long-time newspaper editor in the Big Country, died Aug. 12. He was 80.

As a veteran reporter, Tabor probably would have preferred a terse obituary, but his colleagues recalled a professional journalist and world-class character. He was remembered as a mentor by Roy Jones and Art Lawler, both former writers for the Abilene Reporter-News, where Tabor worked for 18 years before leaving in August 1976 to purchase the Clyde Journal in his hometown. Tabor owned and operated the Clyde Journal for 40 years.

Jones said Tabor was resourceful when it came to getting a story. He recalled a trial Tabor covered in Palo Pinto County, where there was one phone on the courthouse square in a time several decades before cell phones. Tabor “paid a kid to hold the phone booth for him by pretending to be on the phone," said Jones.

As an editor, Jones said Tabor was cool under pressure. In the old days of newspapers, editors often had to come up with fillers, short bits of information, to fill up space when a story was short by a few lines. Jones recalled that, hard on a deadline, Tabor came up with, "Wet birds don't fly at night."

"To show you the power of a filler, no one ever questioned whether or not that was true, but I suspect it wasn't," Jones said.

While Tabor made his bones as a reporter covering trials, Jones recalled that Tabor won a Headliner Award for a short story about the extents people would go to get the pecans off of the trees at the old courthouse. "One person kept bumping the tree with his car to knock the pecans off," Jones said. "

Tabor also didn't suffer fools. Bruce, who worked alongside Tabor on the news desk and died in 2009, once told the story about how a reader called and asked Tabor why the paper ran so many pictures of minorities, although the man couched the question in racist terms.

Tabor's curt reply was, "Because I'm the damn editor."

Evidently the man was expecting Tabor to be defensive, Bruce said, because he didn't want to continue the discussion.

Tabor was born in Clyde and graduated from Clyde High School. He earned a degree in journalism from North Texas State University. He married Betty Jo Patton in 1957.

Active in the community, Tabor was past president of the Clyde Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Clyde.

He is survived by his wife and three sons, Gil and wife Becky of Baird, Bryan and wife Susann of New Braunfels, and Danny of Clyde. He had four grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. He also is survived by a brother, retired Major General Dale Tabor of Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

 

Steve Campbell

Steve Campbell, 63, a lifelong journalist, historian, storyteller, fly fisherman and explorer of the western wilderness, died July 12 in Fort Worth following a two-year battle with a rare cancer.

Campbell's 40-plus year journalism career took him from Texas to Alaska. He worked for the Grand Junction (CO) Daily Sentinel, Houston Post, Denver Rocky Mountain News, Anchorage Daily News, Aspen (CO) Times, (Ogden, UT) Standard-Examiner, and Las Vegas Sun. Finally, he was a writer and editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than 10 years.

He is survived by his wife, Kristen Newcomer Campbell of Fort Worth; daughter, Molly Lauren Campbell; his mother, Thelma Campbell of Baytown; sister and brother-in-law, Connie and Gregg Arndt of Huffman, Texas; brother and sister-in-law, James E. and Lynn Reed-Campbell of Austin; mother-in-law, Sarah Anne "Nana" Newcomer of Longmont, CO; sister-in-law, Ida Newcomer of Longmont, CO; brother-in-law, Ed Newcomer, Jr. of Gaborone, Botswana; and extended family and lifelong friends.

 

Andy Heines

Former Bay City Tribune Managing Editor and corporate communications executive Andy Heines died July 25 after being struck by a vehicle while he was bicycling on July 20.

Heines, who served as city editor and managing editor for the Tribune in the 1980s, became communications director for American Electric Power after his newspaper career.

Heines was married with three children. He served on the board of directors of South Texas Public Broadcasting and the Cathedral Concert Series. He was past president of the Food Bank of Corpus Christi and was a member of Corpus Christi Cathedral choirs for 23 years.

 

Jack King

Jack King, former editor at The Monitor in McAllen, died July 17.

King was born on Aug. 1, 1932, in Gainesville, Texas, and devoted more than 40 years of his life to journalism. He started as a cub sports reporter and photographer at the Herald Democrat in Sherman, where he worked for about 10 years. In 1964 he moved to the Rio Grande Valley to become an editor for The Monitor, where he remained until his retirement about 30 years later.

His wife, Barbara Bledsoe King, whom he met in the newsroom, retired from the Monitor a year before King and the two worked part-time at weekly in Mission until Mrs. King’s death from cancer. King was also preceded in death by his stepson, Larry Cook.

He is survived by his daughter, Karen King Kincaid; stepdaughter, Denise Vaninetti; son, Mike King, and three grandchildren.

 

Scott E. Williams

Galveston County Daily News Managing Editor Scott E. Williams died Aug. 17 at his home in Dickinson, apparently of a heart attack. He was 46.

Williams, born Oct. 15, 1969, joined The Daily News as a reporter in 1998, fresh from the University of Houston’s journalism program. He spent the next 10 years covering the police and courts beats.

In those years, he earned a reputation for integrity and excellent journalism. He earned the respect of his colleagues and members of the criminal justice system, counting peace officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges among his many friends.

Williams was known as a thorough and accurate reporter who could write objectively about police issues and still maintain good relationships with the sources of information.

“Scott was a good reporter,” Friendswood Police Chief Robert Wieners said. “He could be trusted to get the facts right and be as fair as possible. He was trusted by police officers, and he will be missed.”

Williams left The Daily News in 2008 to pursue a law degree, which he earned in 2011 from The Thurgood Marshall College of Law at Texas Southern University. He was admitted to the State Bar of Texas that same year and worked as a prosecutor and private-practice attorney until late 2015, when The Daily News recruited him to return to its newsroom.

Williams was named assistant managing editor in January and promoted to managing editor for news in April.

While his professions were journalism and the law, Williams’ passion was for anything eccentric. He was a well-regarded authority on the history and personalities of professional wrestling, having published several popular books on the subjects. That research and writing continued until his death.

He was perhaps the world’s leading collector and authority on strange covers of popular songs and was a walking library of information about popular culture in general — comic books and graphical novels in particular.

Williams is survived by his wife, Brenda; a daughter, Brooke Utter; a son, Brody Williams; his parents, Donna and Charles Williams of Dickinson; and his mother-in-law, Betty Korndorffer of League City.

 

Betty Yezak

Betty Yezak, long-time owner of the Bremond Press, died July 24 in Round Rock. Funeral services were held July 29 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Bremond.

She and her husband, Herman, bought the Bremond Press in 1960 and ran the newspaper together until Herman’s death in 1986, when she took over. She served as editor and publisher until her death at age 90.

 Yezak was well-known in the Bremond area for her weekly column called the B. Y. Line. For 29 years, she never missed writing a B. Y. Line column. The column consisted of her observations of the world in the previous week and read much like a homespun letter to a friend or relative.

She was active in her church and community. Her favorite hobby was attending Bremond High School athletic events, especially football. In 61 years, she never missed attending a regular season Bremond football game and only missed four playoff games. She was proud to have been at all three Bremond state football championship games and both Bremond state baseball championship games. She also enjoyed attending Texas A&M University football games and watching the Dallas Cowboys on television.

Survivors include her daughter, Patricia "Pisha" Weatherly of Ferris; son and daughter-in-law, Robert and Michelle Yezak of Bremond; son, George Yezak of Bremond; daughter, Jennifer Yezak of Washington, DC; seven grandchildren; one great-grandchild; a sister-in-law, several nieces and nephews; and a host of other relatives, friends and faithful readers.