-30- February 2015

JACK D. LOFTIS - Jack D. Loftis, who led the Houston Chronicle newsroom through space shuttle flights, the Enron scandal and the 9/11 terror attacks, died Dec. 29 at the age of 80 after a long illness. Loftis served as the Chronicle’s vice president and editor from 1987 to 2002. Loftis joined the Chronicle in 1965 as a copy editor, often working the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift. Soon he was named editor of Texas Magazine, the Chronicle’s Sunday supplement. Among the stories he published was a feature about con man Frank Abagnale, who later became the subject of the movie “Catch Me If You Can.” Loftis climbed quickly through the newsroom ranks: features editor, assistant managing editor/features, assistant editor and editor. After leaving the paper he held the title of editor emeritus. Tony Pederson, who joined the Chronicle in 1974 and became executive editor under Loftis in 2000, said Loftis embodied solid Central Texas values. “As a newspaperman, Jack just had this incredible sense of fairness,” he said. “He had respect for everybody. He was intent on being fair, and it pervaded the newsroom.” Loftis served as a director of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association and in 1995 received the Headliners Foundation of Texas’ Lifetime Achievement Award. He twice served as a Pulitzer Prize juror. Loftis was born Nov. 21, 1934, in Hillsboro, Texas. Although he graduated from Baylor with a degree in business, journalism had claimed him for good. Loftis rose to become editor of the Mirror in 1962 before leaving for Houston.

CAROLINA “QUEENIE” PEMELTON - Carolina “Queenie” Pemelton, longtime community editor for The Monitor, died Thursday, Jan. 8, at Amara Hospice in Edinburg after a 12-year battle with cancer. She was 61. For many, Pemelton was the face of The Monitor . In her job as community editor, she worked with area leaders and volunteers to take information for the Valley Life social and community pages. She began working for the newspaper in August 1973, and over four decades built enduring relationships with the people who visited the newspaper. Those who dealt with her knew she was dedicated to her work and always willing to help wherever and whenever she could. “Queenie was the face of The Monitor for a very long time,” said Carlos Sanchez, editor of The Monitor. “In any given city there are few people who are considered institutions; Queenie Pemelton was an institution unto herself. “She will be sorely missed by both the community and her colleagues at The Monitor.” Queenie was an animal lover — by her own admission, her cats were among her best friends — and a longtime vegetarian. Those who knew her best say she was friendly yet quiet, and that a wickedly playful sense of humor lurked just beneath the surface, always ready to spring forward in a big laugh. She was born in McAllen and graduated from McAllen High School in 1972. In 1987, she met John Pemelton, and they married in 1996. He says he loved her resilience in the face of pain and respected her astonishing strength of spirit throughout a protracted battle with cancer.

DAVE MUNDY - David Allen Mundy, 56, of Gonzales, passed away Thursday, January 15, 2015. He was born October 18, 1958 in Deer Park, Texas the son of Joseph Allen and Barbara Jean Maness Mundy. Dave was the publisher and editor of The Gonzales Cannon newspaper for several years. He was an accomplished newspaperman, having worked with the Orange Leader, the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, the Katy Times, as managing editor and presently the Cannon. He was the author of two books “Duh – Texas, a case study in educational takeover” and “Dances with Chihuahuas”. He loved practical jokes and was an inspiration to his staff at the Cannon.

BETTY J. WEST - Betty J. West, 84, passed away January 26, 2015 in Mineral Wells. She was born January 23, 1931 in Strawn the daughter of Tom and Eva Jane Boyd Speer. She married Orville Raymond West on October 10, 1949 in Mineral Wells. She graduated from Mineral Wells High School in 1948. She was a member of Immanuel Baptist Church. She sang with the Silver Notes. She retired from the Palo Pinto County Clerk’s Office. She had also worked at Cantex, and the Mineral Wells Index. Her and her husband ran the USO during the late 1940’s and early 50’s at the North Oak Community Center. 

MICHAEL DURISSEAU - Veteran Galveston County journalist and photographer Michael Durisseau died Jan. 17 after a long battle with a rare form of kidney disease. He was 53. Durisseau, a La Marque native, began his journalism career at the La Marque Times when he was a teenager. It was there he developed his skill as not only a reporter but also a photographer. After some encouragement from his wife, Durisseau started off as a freelance reporter and photographer for The Post. Later he became the bi-weekly newspaper’s managing editor, she said. He also worked part time as a freelancer photographer for The Galveston County Daily News.

BRYAN WOOLLEY - Bryan Woolley, the Texas-roving journalist and respected novelist, died Jan. 9. He was 77. Woolley was a staff writer for The Dallas Morning News from 1989 until his retirement in 2006. Previously, he worked at newspapers including The Anniston star in Alabama, The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Dallas Times Herald. Woolley who earned degrees at the University of Texas at El Paso, Texas Christian University and Harvard University, was the author of several books, including the novels “November 22” and “Some Street Day.” He covered all things Texas, from Roy Orbison to cowboy poets.

KEVIN KERRIGAN - Kevin Joseph Kerrigan passed peacefully on Dec. 21, 2014, in Corpus Christi, Texas, at the age of 65. Kevin was born on Aug. 13, 1949, in Ravenna, Ohio.  He graduated from Kent State University in 1971 with a degree in journalism.  After moving to Corpus Christi in 1972, Kevin began working for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, where he worked for 39 years. He worked as a copy editor and manager and won numerous awards for his witty and thought provoking headlines. Kevin had a puckish sense of humor and a big heart, and was known to be direct when asked to give an opinion. Kevin loved his work and was a great mentor to all.