MARIE HALL WHITEHEAD
RUSK – Marie Hall Whitehead, 88, former owner of the Cherokeean Herald newspaper and radio stations KTLU-AM and KWRW-FM in Rusk and the widow of state Rep. Emmett H. Whitehead, died Nov. 26 at her home in Rusk.
Over a 66-year period, Mrs. Whitehead and her late husband utilized the print and broadcast media platform they built to support causes benefiting Rusk and Cherokee County.
The Whiteheads moved to Rusk and The Cherokeean on June 1, 1950. In 1955, they were granted a license by the Federal Communications Commission to broadcast the city’s first and only AM radio station, KTLU. They expanded their media interests in 1981 to include an FM station, KWRW. Additional media interests included the purchase of E-Z Vision Cable Company in 1962, one of the pioneer cable television systems in the area.
They purchased the Alto Herald in 1978. In 1989, they merged the Alto Herald and the Rusk Cherokeean, forming what is now the Cherokeean Herald.
Mrs. Whitehead returned to college to complete a degree in communications at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches in 1971 and earned a master of arts there in 1975. Her 300-page dissertation on the history of the Rusk Cherokeean established the newspaper as the oldest continuously published weekly in Texas. Based on her research, the Texas Historical Commission awarded a state historical marker in 2001, recognizing the Cherokeean as the oldest weekly in the state.
In 1952 she implemented an archival project at the newspaper, preserving back issues of the newspaper dating to 1919. A microfilm project launched in 1952 became the source for digitized archives. In 2009, her newspaper was the first in Texas to place its complete archives on The Portal to Texas History website.
She served on numerous boards and service organizations, including the Rusk school board. She was later appointed to the Region 7 Education Service Center board of directors, one of 20 regional education service centers in Texas.
She ran unsuccessfully for District 11 state representative in 1988, a position Mr. Whitehead held from 1972-80. In 2005 she was a charter board member of the Texas State Railroad Authority, a group overseeing the transition of the popular tourist attraction from a state agency to private ownership.
She was named the Rusk Chamber of Commerce’s citizen of the year in 1975 and businesswoman of the year in 2010. The late East Texas historian Bob Bowman presented her with the Best of East Texas award in 2011. She also received The Texas Road Hand Award from the Texas Department of Transportation for public service promoting highways. The city honored the family with the Emmett and Marie Whitehead Heritage Park, a tourist information park featuring a train caboose.
In 2000, she received Texas Press Association recognition for working 50 years as a journalist. She served on numerous committees during her association with TPA and the Texas Gulf Coast Press Association.
She is survived by two daughters, Terrie Gonzalez and Dr. Wendee Whitehead, both of Austin; one grandson, two granddaughters; two sisters; and numerous cousins and extended family members.
Funeral services were held Dec. 1 at the First United Church in Rusk. Memorials may be made to the Heritage Center of Cherokee County, P.O. Box 974, Rusk, TX, 75785; or the Rusk Public Library, 207 E. 6th St., Rusk, TX, 75785.
GARY RADFORD OTT
PLAINVIEW – A private memorial service was held in Plainview on Nov. 24 for retired newspaper editor Gary Radford Ott, 64.
Ott, former editor of the Midland Reporter-Telegram and former news editor of the Plainview Herald, was born April 9, 1952 in Plainview, the son of Angus and Vera Ott.
He graduated from Plainview High School and received his degree in journalism from the University of Houston in 1974.
After working as a reporter and then news editor for the Plainview paper for six years, he joined another Hearst-owned publication, the Midland Reporter-Telegram, as city editor in 1983. He was promoted to editor in 2003 and retired in 2010.
Ott wrote a twice-weekly column for the Midland paper. About 100 of his columns comprised a book entitled, “A Touch of Life,” in which he reminisced about growing up in the 1950s and 1960s and his various life experiences.
Under his leadership, the Reporter-Telegram carried on a tradition of a preference for community journalism. In a front-page tribute, he was remembered by the newspaper as a civic-minded professional who supported local causes and mentored the reporters who worked for him
A colleague remarked at his retirement, “Gary cared about those who worked alongside and put those relationships ahead of just about everything else. He will be remembered as a kind, gentle and loyal man by his family, friends and former colleagues.”
Survivors include his father, Angus Ott of Plainview; three sisters, Hope English of Plainview, Sandra Simoneau of Austin, and Marsha Wilson of Lincoln, Nebraska; three nephews, four nieces, two great nephews and a great niece. The family suggests memorials to the Capital Campaign of Wayland Baptist University, 1900 W. Seventh, CMB 1295, Plainview, TX 79072, or a charity of choice.
GERALD S. (JERRY) KATES
GLADEWATER — Former Gladewater Mirror Publisher Gerald S. “Jerry” Kates, 81, died Dec. 9 at his home.
Born Nov. 1, 1935, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Harry and Mary Kates, he grew up in Claremore and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. He attended the University of Oklahoma in Norman and earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.
Kates was a third-generation newspaperman. His father, Harry Kates, bought the Gladewater Daily Mirror in 1954, and Jerry started selling newspapers during his childhood years.
He went on to launch White Oak’s first newspaper, The Texan, in the late 1960s. He later became the Mirror’s editor and then publisher, serving until selling the paper to the Westward newspaper chain in 1989.
Even while carrying on the Kates family’s ink-stained traditions, music remained dear to his heart. A longtime member of the First United Methodist Church of Gladewater, he served as choir director there for 25 years. He was also a board member, director and cast member of the Longview Community Dinner Theater in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He sang in several barbershop quartets over the years and directed the chorus for the Longview Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing of America.
In the mid-1980s he joined an effort to make Gladewater the “Antiques Capital of East Texas,” promoting the idea with features, coverage, and editorials in the Mirror.
He was co-author of a musical comedy, “Settin’ on the Woodbine,” written for the 1986 debut of Gusher Days, an annual chamber festival celebrating the city’s unique history as a 1930s boomtown. The full-scale production, requiring more than 50 cast and crew members, ran during Gusher Days for six years.
After his newspaper career, he and his wife began an antiques business themselves, buying the old First State Bank building in Gladewater and opening Ford Office Supply with an adjoining antiques mall.
The Gladewater Chamber of Commerce named him man of the year in 1994, and he received the chamber’s Bradley Award for outstanding community service on two occasions.
In addition to his wife of 60 years, Shirley Sherrell Kates, survivors include two sons, Harry Wesley Kates and Matthew Scott Kates of Gladewater; a daughter, both of Sherrell “Sissy” Anne Schneiderman of Mineola; seven grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and other relatives.
A memorial service was held Dec. 16 at the First United Methodist Church in Gladewater. Memorial contributions may be directed to the church or to Hospice of East Texas (www.hospiceofeasttexas.org).
JANE LOUISE ROGERS HUDSON
PERRYTON – Jane Louise Rogers Hudson, 91, of Perryton, former co-owner of the Perryton Herald, died Nov. 28.
A native of Perryton, she returned to her home to teach art and handwriting in Perryton schools after graduating from Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., in 1944 and Southern Methodist University in 1946 with degrees in English and art.
She married Harold Hudson, then editor of the Ochiltree County Herald, on Dec. 24, 1947. They purchased the newspaper in 1959 and renamed it the Perryton Herald. They also owned Perryton Office Supply for many years, and she was the buyer for the gift department. Mr. Hudson served as publisher of the Perryton Herald until his death in 1991.
Mrs. Hudson served as president of the Jennie June Club and the Perryton High School Permanent Art Collection Board. She also was a member of the Wolf Creek Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, many other civic organizations and the First United Methodist Church. She and her husband also helped organize the Perryton YMCA (now the Perryton Activity Center) and were charter members of The Perryton Club.
The couple also enjoyed traveling for many years, including trips to the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China.
In addition to her husband and her parents, Clyce and Helen Rogers, she was preceded in death by a son, Jim Hudson.
She is survived by one son, John Hudson of Seguin, a daughter, Mary Dudley of Perryton, a brother, six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Services were held Dec. 3 at First United Methodist Church in Perryton with burial in the Ochiltree Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 987; the Ranger Academic Enrichment Foundation Pathways Program, P.O. Box 179; the Museum of the Plains, 1200 N. Main, all in Perryton, or a favorite charity.