Golden 50 Award

Golden 50 — 2002

2002 Recipients

123rd Summer Convention, Friday, June 28, 2002, Corpus Christi

Gene Dow, Seminole Sentinel
Ted Leach, Panola Watchman
Rigby Owen Sr., Conroe Courier
Bert West, Palacios Beacon
Willis Webb, The Jasper Newsboy

Melvin "Gene" Dow

Melvin "Gene" Dow grew up in the newspaper business, while in junior high and high school, working with his father, Melvin N. Dow, and grandfather, James L. Dow, learning the printing trade on the Wink Bulletin.

He earned a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Texas in Austin in January 1952. He served as editor of the Wink Bulletin for almost a year before being drafted for military duty in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict. After returning from overseas duty in Austria, he returned to Wink to again assume the editorship of his father's newspaper.

Ready to leave his hometown, Dow became news editor of the Monahans News in 1956. After 2 1/2 years, he and his new bride, Joyce, saved enough to make the down payment on the Van Horn Advocate, which they published for more than 13 years. While there they also acquired the Hudspeth County News at Dell City.

Dow earned his private pilot's license while still in high school, and in 1972, the opportunity was presented to combine his love for flying and still continue his newspaper career. He became editor of General Aviation News, aka The Green Sheet, a nationally distributed aviation newspaper, headquartered in Snyder. Dow later became publisher of

that publication.  Again, after a dozen years or so, Dow developed a strong interest in computers. He opened the Computer Case, Inc., an Apple computer store, in Snyder in 1983 and a branch store in Big Spring the following year. Three years later, Apple Computer Co. cut the dealerships of all smaller stores, forcing the Computer Case stores out of business.

So it was back to the newspaper business. Dow then became managing editor of the Colorado City Record for about two years before Roberts Publishing Co. selected him in 1989 to become publisher of the Seminole Sentinel.

Except for the two years in the Army and three years in the computer business, Dow has spent a lifetime in the newspaper business. In most cases, his wife has worked alongside. She retired in December 2000, as women's news editor for the Sentinel.

"Seems like I've made a major change in life about every 12 years or so -- this time it's retirement," Dow said.

The Dows have been active in local civic organizations and are members of First United Methodist Church.

They have reared two children, a son, James Dee, who works and resides in California; and daughter, Dana Joyce, who is advertising director for the Mineral Wells Index, thus a fourth-generation newspaper person. Their children each have three children, providing the Dows with four grandsons and two granddaughters. They plan to continue maintaining their home in Seminole.

Dow has been the 11th publisher of the Sentinel since its founding in 1907. Dow served as the publisher of the Seminole Sentinel for 12 years from 1989 until his retirement in December 2001.

He has served West Texas Press Association as a director, first and second vice presidents and president. He has served on the editorial board of Texas Press Association.

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 Ted Leach

Ted Leach began working for newspapers as a street delivery salesman in 1947, but three years later a near fatal accident on a motor route would create not only a change of professions, but a career move.

The drunk traveling an estimated 90 mph hammered him broadside on a Cushman motor bike while he was throwing his route.

Unable to participate in organized sports that summer, or in the future, Leach was devastated by his misfortune. Although it went unsaid, the newspaper family took Leach under its wing. Longview News-Journal sports editor Buster Hale offered a solution.

Keep score or umpire summer games and high school ball and cover the contests in the newspapers under Hales' tutelage. It would pay more than throwing routes.

Through high school at Longview, young Leach worked as a reporter of local amateur and some professional sports. He covered Kilgore in the old East Texas League, keeping score on the radio and calling in stories and boxes from his parents' home in Longview.

He was sports editor of his high school newspaper and class reporter and sports editor on scholarship at Kilgore College. All the time, he worked with many friends, and his ambition to follow in his father's footsteps was building.

"I had more spending money then than I do now," he often jokes.  His mother and father both worked, Kay with the Texas Employment Commission, Ed as sports editor, then reporter-columnist and finally editor and editor-in-chief of the Longview morning and afternoon newspapers.

Ed Leach earned a 50-year pin from Texas Press Association in 1983, finishing a distinguished career working for publications Leach helped found. He also cherished a Friend of the TPA honor.

Research shows Ed and Ted Leach are one the few father-son duos to reach this 50-year milestone from TPA.

With Buster Hale's help, Leach landed the sports editor's job at The Borger News Herald. His father was adamantly opposed to any move from the Longview area, but it was made without consulting him.

In 1960, Leach won the Texas UPI Editor's sports writing competition and Ed embraced the idea that maybe there was hope.

"The best competitor I've ever had," Amarillo Globe-News sports scribe Putt Powell once wrote of Leach.

"The greatest circulation builder I have ever known," Borger's Dean Preston believed.

An elderly gentleman who was hired in circulation at Borger took a great liking to Leach and promoted him to work with his friends at Wichita Falls Times-Record News, telling one of the managing editors that Leach was a writer who works circulation without pay in order to build a reputation.

Curtis Cook and Al Parker liked Leach well enough to hire him and eventually made him sports editor.

"I had to back up to the pay window, I loved that job so much," Leach said.

As sports editor he directed a four-man staff, wrote columns, covered the best schoolboy games in the city and area, covered the best of the Southwest Conference football games on Saturdays during football, and when the Dallas Cowboys came to being at the Cotton Bowl, Leach was there to write about the home games.

"It's been a great ride," he says. "I've seen many of the greatest athletes and coaches of my time and I've had a blast.

"There hasn't been a day I dreaded going to work."

He came back to Longview to get some news writing and editing experience under a master of the language,Wells Burton, but shortly accepted a position as chief cook and bottle washer (editor, photographer, darkroom tech, composition makeup assistant and circulation manager) of the Mount Pleasant Times. Operating on the promise he would someday be afforded the opportunity to buy the old hot type paper, he worked long hours in a very competitive market.

With his devoted wife Maudie entering the work force as wire editor and co-circulation manager, and their five children participating in delivery of The Times, as part of the work force, they were greatly pleased as a family to be a part of that town, until Leach was offered The Panola Watchman editor's job at Carthage. His wife would have a job as typesetter and would gather courthouse news, since there was no wire copy to edit.

While in Carthage, Leach aggressively covered controversies in the local school system and was eventually asked to serve on the PTA and run for school board. But the management shunned the idea and Leach said that when he didn't back down, he was fired. Shortly his wife was fired, too, and he and local city councilman, Robert Pike, started to co-publish a new newspaper.

The Panola Post was born in Pike's living and dining rooms, until a front porch could be enclosed to give his wife Hazel a good portion of her living quarters back. Devoted to her husband's causes, Hazel took Leach and Maudie under her wing and said little about the scraps of waxed paper she often had to remove by hand from her carpets.

"Hazel and Robert were fantastic," Leach said.

Leach would soon sell his portion of The Post to Lloyd Grissom, and then would join the Grissom Publications team (East Texas Light, Timpson Times and newly acquired Toledo Sportsman) at Tenaha.

He was hired as editor, writer, circulation manager, sales person and advertising director of The Toledo Sportsman. Throw in composition,  too, he said.

In his tenure, The Sportsman grew from a 24-page tabloid to 96 pages, including national, lake marina and local township ads from either side of the great lake.

All his life, however, Leach secretly wanted to be sports editor of the Longview papers. It was rumored his friend, John Inman, was looking at a public relations job in Dallas with the Cowboys so Leach agreed to come write a morning column, to cover Panola County events and be outdoor editor on the promise that Inman would not be forced to vacate his post.

Eventually he also joined Buster Hale at The Henderson Daily News covering sports, and working double duty.

From 1982 to 1990, Grissom urged editorial excellence through contests and The Panola Post and The Post-Watchman were dominant in their divisions of the Texas Press Association and North and East Texas Press Association competition.

The Post held its own in the Texas Gulf Coast Press Association, too. Leach served as president of that group in 1990-1991.

The weekly and semiweekly publications won 38 first places in a l0-year span in TPA, NETPA and TGCPA competition, including two TPA and two NETPA sweepstakes plaques.

Leach was editor and the only reporter, sports and otherwise, when the Watchman took one sweepstakes honor. He was editor or editor-in-chief when The Panola Post earned its highest honor. Leach took 22 first places with The Panola Post and Post-Watchman for sports, column writing, news photos and editorials in the period of 1982 to 1990.

Then the emphasis on winning awards waned.

Newspapering always has been a family operation with the Leaches. Sons David and Donald have covered area high school sports, daughter Debbie has helped keep statistics and drives Leach to his doctor appointments between games. Granddaughters Amber and Angel Leach assist their father as photographer and statistician for Beckville games.

Grandsons Donnie and Donald are paw paw's eyes and able assistants.

"I've worked with folks in this business that didn't like to show up at the appointed hour. All I have to do is ask," Leach said of his family sources.

"Does this guy Leach ever sleep?" a TPA judge once asked in a critique of sports entries.

"The family is my secret weapon," Leach said.

With five married children, 14 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren all living with 15 miles of Carthage, it's easy to get someone to a game if there's a conflict.

Trying to cover boys' and girls' and men's and women's games at the high school and college level, creates a hectic pace. Almost seven years ago (Aug. 7, 1995) Leach had a heart transplant.

With the aid of a portable computer, a fax machine, a telephone and great sources on the local sports scene to help in every way, he missed just one full and a partial issue of his semiweekly schedule. He would get scorebooks or information by fax, write the stories at night and send them by modem before deadline .

"Loyd once told me it's not what you print that always counts, but what you know," Leach said.

"If I reported the truth, I enjoyed the hatchet man reputation, too. That all changed, however, when I had a change of heart."

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Rigby Owen, Sr.

Rigby Owen, Sr., was born June 17, 1912, in Rosebud, Falls Co., Texas. In late 1918 Rigby and his only brother,  Irvin, moved with their parents to Oklahoma City via train. He remembers seeing soldiers on the train returning to their respective homes at the end of World War I.

He attended schools in Oklahoma City through the 11th grade and began his newspaper career there at the age of 12 delivering the Daily Oklahoman while attending Webster Junior High.

He consistently delivered papers through his junior year at Central High School. This was the beginning of a very successful career in newspapering.

Owen graduated from high school in 1931 in Norman, Okla., at the age of 18. At 19 he enrolled at the University of Oklahoma with his goal being a degree in engineering. During his first semester at OU, his father had an automobile accident that resulted in a permanent back injury that would keep him from working the rest of his life. Owen quit college after one semester and went to work to help support his Mom and Dad. They were living in Norman at this time.

In 1932 he moved to Cushing, Okla., to assist his older brother in distributing The Oklahoma City Times and the Daily Oklahoman, two Oklahoma City newspapers.

During that year, Owen's brother was transferred to El Reno, Okla., to work as a distributor for the two Oklahoma City papers. He remained in Cushing. In June 1932 Owen met his future wife, Jo Briley. They married Feb. 14, 1933.

On Sept. 25, 1933 Owen was hired as circulation manager of The Cushing Daily Citizen. During his two years there he converted all the routes so the carriers would do the collecting and pay for their papers.

This was called the "Little Merchant Plan."

In making this change Owen was able to double the paid circulation for the Citizen. While working for the Citizen he wrote a column titled "Red Visits the Rural Routes," so named because of his red hair.

The Owens' first child, Sandra, was born in Cushing.

In August 1935 the district manager for the Oklahoma City papers, C.A. Lane, was named circulation manager of the Little Rock Democrat. Owen was offered a job as city circulation manager by his longtime friend. He took the job thinking this was quite a move for him and stayed there about one year before deciding to move on because he seemed to enjoy working on smaller newspapers.

In September 1936 he moved to Shawnee, Okla., and worked for the local newspaper in advertising and circulation. After about six months he moved to Ada, Okla., where he was hired as circulation manager for the Ada News. W.D. Little was the publisher of the News.

During his six years on this job he wound up making more than men who had been on the job a lot longer. Two sons, Steve and Rigby, Jr. were born in Ada.

In 1937 Owen was appointed an "Honorary Colonel" commission on the staff of the Oklahoma Boy's State for his enduring work with young newspaper carriers under the "Little Merchant Plan" he implemented for the Ada News. In January 1941 Owen was elected president of Ada's Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Early in 1942 Owen resigned from the Ada News when he had an opportunity to buy one-fourth interest in the Opelousas Daily World in Opelousas, La. The World was a year and a half old and was started by John Thistlethwaite for about $12,000. There were several other stockholders owning 50 percent of the stock.When Owen arrived in Opelousas, Thistlethwaite sold him 25 percent of his stock, mostly on credit. The next day Thistlethwaite left for the Army.

During the next few years the minor stockholders wanted to sell out. Thistlethwaite did not want to participate. Owen was able to purchase an additional 50 percent of the outstanding stock, again, mostly on borrowed money.

When WWII ended Thistlethwaite came back to be the editor of the World and Owen was publisher. Thistlethwaite was offered a chance to be a 50-50 partner with Owen but was not interested.

Owen always considered Thistlethwaite an equal partner and good friend during his nine years in Opelousas.

The Daily World was the only offset daily newspaper in the state at the time and later was declared the first successful offset daily in the United States. During his nine-year tenure in Opelousas, Owen coowned nearby newspapers, including The Eunice New Era, The Layayette Pictorial and The Lafayette Progress. The paper in Eunice was later renamed The Eunice News.

Owen was elected to the Louisiana Press Association board of governors in April 1944 and elected president of the LPA at their annual meeting in New Orleans on April 12, 1947.

In 1951 Rigby sold his controlling interest in the World to his good friend Thistlethwaite.

In December of that same year Owen bought The El Campo News.

He sold the News in March 1953.While in El Campo, Owen coowned newspapers in Port Lavaca and Weslaco.

On Sept. 1, 1953, Owen bought the Conroe Courier and moved there with his family.

He was elected vice-president of the Texas Gulf Coast Press Association on May 10, 1954 at its annual meeting in Brenham. Patsy Woodall, publisher of the Huntsville Item was elected President.

In May 1955 he became president of the Texas Gulf Coast Press Association. In July 1971 he was elected president of Texas Press Association. At that time, he was only the second publisher in the United States to have served as president of two different state press associations.

On Sept. 1, 1971 Owen sold the Conroe Courier to Universal Publishing, Inc.,Wesley Attaway, chairman of the board. Owen served on the board for several years.

Other newspapers Owen owned prior to the sale of the Courier included The Tomball Tribune, The Cleveland Advocate and The Huntsville Pictorial. He also acquired an FM radio permit to begin operating radio station KNRO in Conroe.

In 1976 he bought radio station KMCO in Conroe and the call letters later changed to KIKR.

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Bert West 

Bert West's newspaper career has ranged from reporting on harness horse racing at county fairs in the Midwest to man's first landing on the moon, and from PTA meetings to murder trials in between.

On Sept. 7, 2002, West will have completed 55 years as either a sportswriter, sports editor, news editor, bureau manager, managing editor and publisher or owner of newspapers in Indiana, Missouri and Texas, 43 of those years in Texas.

An Indiana farm boy who dreamed of being a newspaperman since he was 5 years old, West started his career on Sept. 7, 1947, at the age of 20, when he went to work at $35 per week as one of two associate editors of The Horseman & Fair World, a weekly trade magazine devoted to the sport of harness horse racing, published in Indianapolis. He became editor of the magazine in 1949, at which time Billboard Magazine featured him as the youngest editor of any publication of worldwide circulation. The Horseman was one of two such magazines on the sport of harness horse racing.

While with The Horseman, West wrote weekly columns on harness horse racing for the Indianapolis Star; Lexington (Ky.) Leader and the Washington, D.C., Daily News.

In 1951, he became associate editor of the sport's other magazine, The Harness Horse, at Harrisburg, Pa., then spent a few months in early 1952 as editor of the brand new Harness Daily, at LaGrange, Ill., which folded in short order.

In July 1952, he joined the Indianapolis Star as a sportswriter. Then, after members of his wife's family had moved to Dallas, West, too, found Texas in August 1954, leaving Indiana with his family of four and no job in sight. Within a few weeks, he became managing editor for Rufus Higgs at the Stephenville Empire-Tribune.

In March 1955, he became news editor of the El Campo News, owned by a fellow Hoosier, B.W. Bradfute. When Bradfute sold the News in 1957, West became the first manager of the Port Lavaca bureau for the Victoria Advocate.When the Woodson group purchased the two competing newspapers in Port Lavaca, he became managing editor of the merged Port Lavaca Wave-Calhoun County Times, along with keeping his Victoria Advocate bureau duties.

There was a quick trip (five months) back to Indiana in early 1961 to be news editor of the Madison Courier, but the Texas fever was too much. He returned in June 1961 as sports editor of the Vernon Record.

In December 1961 he became managing editor of the Bay City Tribune.

Over the next five years, West was news editor, San Benito News; news editor, Lamb County Leader, Littlefield; and general manager, Calhoun County News, Port Lavaca. At San Benito, he founded and published the Valley & South Texas Football magazine in 1963-64.

In 1966, he joined the Pasadena News-Citizen as news editor. While there, he converted five weeklies between Houston and Galveston, which were owned by the Citizen, into the Spaceland Star.

In 1968, he accepted an offer from the Houston Chronicle to be manager of its news bureau at the Manned Spacecraft Center, where he covered the first six manned flights of the Apollo program, including the first two manned landings on the moon, Apollo 11 and 12.

During this time, he also served as Space Center correspondent for the French News Agency, the U.S. Information Agency, Japanese News Agency, Newsday and a Turkish news agency. Prior to Neil Armstrong's landing on the moon in 1969, he spent a week in Armstrong's hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio -- the first place West had gone to cover county fair harness horse racing back in 1947 -- retracing Armstrong's youth, family and friends, for the Chronicle and Texas Magazine.

Wanting to get back into full newspaper activity and responsibilities, after the first two Moon landings, West became managing editor of then three-times-a-week St. Charles Journal in St. Charles, Mo. This started a 5 1/2-year stay in Missouri, but it was again back to Texas in mid-1975, where he became editor-publisher of the Morris County News-Ledger and Cass County News-Ledger at Daingerfield and Hughes Springs.

He and son, Nick (fresh out of the Marines) purchased the papers from Grayford Jones, converted them into the Steel Country News-Ledger and also started the Ore City News-Ledger.

They sold the papers to the Bluebonnet group in November 1979, after which West spent about four months helping the new owners of the Johnson City Record-Courier revamp their paper before becoming editor-publisher of the Needville Tribune. In 1981-82, he was news editor for Dick Reavis (whom he had worked with at Port Lavaca 20 years earlier) at the Moore County News in Dumas.

For a brief spell in 1982, he was owner-publisher of the Bogata News and three other small weeklies in the area, before joining son, Nick, at the Palacios Beacon. From 1983-89, he was news editor, then general manager of the Yoakum Herald-Times. In 1989, he founded the requester weekly, Four Star Reporter at Yoakum.

After selling the Four Star to Buddy Preuss in 1994,West thought he was retiring, and was -- for three months. However, the owners of the Jackson County Herald-Tribune at Edna, on a tip from Tex Rogers, offered him a job of being their publisher-general manager, which he accepted. He remained there until July 1999.Within a month, he was back at it -- rejoining son, Nick, at the Palacios Beacon on full-time chores.

"Most of those job changes in the early years were due to my always looking for challenges. I would join a paper, help to build it up, then go looking for another to do the same,"West said. "Besides, I told my wife when we married that I wanted to travel.

"Of all the newspapers I've worked for, there wasn't a one that I didn't enjoy my job," he says.

Among his accomplishments, while at the St. Charles Journal, he was lead writer on a series of twice-weekly articles that ran continuously for 18 months, that resulted in St. Louis keeping its major airport, Lambert Field, in Missouri, instead of building a new one across the Mississippi River, in Illinois -- a deal that had been endorsed by St.  Louis' two daily newspapers and was all but completed by the governor of Illinois and the mayor of St. Louis, until the Journal series. Missouri would have lost millions of dollars, plus hundreds of jobs, had the airport gone to another state.

He also wrote a long series of articles at the Four Star Reporter in Yoakum that resulted in the State Department of Transportation keeping its District 13 intact and headquartered in Yoakum, instead of being merged into the Corpus Christi District as supported by then Gov. Ann Richards.

West also received a commendation from the Associated Press for his coverage of the Kentucky Derby while at the Indianapolis Star.

West was named Outstanding Secretary of the Texas Jaycees in 1957. He founded the Little League basketball program at Stephenville in 1954, the El Campo Little League in 1956, fishing tournaments at Port Lavaca and Palacios and was elected charter director and secretary of the Yoakum Hospital District. He has been national chairman of the public relations committee for the trustee division of the American Library Association. He was president of the Calhoun County Fair, president of the Palacios Chamber of Commerce, board member of the Texas Main Street Committee at Yoakum, president of the St. Charles County, Mo., Library District board of trustees, president of Port Lavaca Jaycees, and president of Rotary and Optimist clubs in Texas and Missouri.

West and his bride, Betty, whom he married in 1948, have had eight children (a daughter died in childhood). Son, Nick, is publisher of the Palacios Beacon; daughter, Leah Eames, works for a printing company in Naples. Other children are Pat West, Mount Pleasant; Dodie Edinger, Lake St. Louis, Mo.; Deborah West, Dallas; Karen Roby,  Longview; and Larry West, Yoakum. Grandson Michael "West" McCracken is sports editor of the Gonzales Inquirer.

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Willis Webb

Willis Webb began his career in newspapering at age 10 by working as a carrier throwing the Waco Tribune-Herald on a bicycle route in his hometown of Teague. And he's been "handling" newspapers up close and personal since.

Webb is publisher of The Jasper Newsboy and is second vice president of Texas Press Association. During his 50-plus-year career he has been a syndicated columnist, a managing editor, advertising director, newspaper consultant and an award-winning editor-publisher at several locations.

Webb rode his bike and tossed that Waco newspaper from 1947-1953 and then was distributor/carrier of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Teague, 1953-55.

In 1956 and 1957 he studied journalism at Sam Houston State in Huntsville, served as sports publicity director for Bearkat athletics and worked as a stringer for the Huntsville Item and correspondent for The Houston Post, Associated Press, United Press and International News Service (INS).

He returned home for one year as news editor of the Teague Chronicle, then finished his J-degree work in night school at the University of Houston, working days as a copy editor for The Cougar, student newspaper, and authored a syndicated column, "The Texian Editor's Frontier News Flashes," gleaned from Texas newspaper files from the 1860s and 1870s. More than 150 weekly newspapers carried the column.

On Jan. 1, 1959 he became an ad sales rep for the Galena Park Reporter and six months later was named general manager. In 1960 he became associate editor of Texas Industry magazine published by the Texas Manufacturers Association.

Webb worked as editor and then editor-publisher of the Fort Bend Mirror at Rosenberg for six years and spent the next three years as editor-publisher of the Cleveland Advocate. Next stop was Conroe where he was associate publisher, then editor, then publisher of the Conroe Courier, later the Conroe Daily Courier.

From 1976 to 1982 he was sales manager for Southwest Creative Graphics, worked as a consultant to Attaway Newspapers and brokered the sale of the Cleveland Journal to Attaway. He also did advertising, public relations and political campaign work.

He was editor-publisher of the Lockhart Post-Register 1982-84 and then the Fredericksburg Radio Post in 1984-85. During the next four years he worked for Hartman Newspapers, Inc. (HNI) in several capacities: business manager of The Herald Coaster, director of sales and marketing, vice president-operations and editor-publisher of the Fort Bend Mirror.

He was editor/publisher of the Fort Bend Business & Legal Review at Stafford and then joined the Houston Digest as an ad sales rep.

In May 1991 he became editor-publisher of The Jasper Newsboy, which is the oldest continuously published (under the same name) weekly in Texas. His wife Julie, a former schoolteacher, serves as contributing editor of the Newsboy. They have four children and two grandchildren.

Webb has received numerous awards in news, editorial and column writing, graphic design, ad copy and design, photography, and community service from the Associated Press Managing Editors Association, the United Press International Editors Association, Texas Press Association, Houston Press Club, Texas Gulf Coast Press Association, South Texas Press Association, North and East Texas Press Association, the Hearst Corporation and the Press Club of Southeast Texas in Beaumont.

In 1997 he became the first weekly publisher to receive the Hearst Corporation's Eagle Award for outstanding individual accomplishment in journalism.

He is a past member of the administrative board of First United Methodist Church of Jasper and is a past-president of numerous chambers of commerce. He was founding president of the Boys & Girls Club of Jasper and served on the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Deep East Texas. He currently serves as a director of the Jasper and Sam Rayburn Area Chamber of Commerce and is a Jasper County Historical Museum director.

Since the James Byrd Jr. murder and trial, Webb has spoken by invitation at TPA, Panhandle Press Association and STPA conventions about the impact on Jasper and the Jasper area as well as on the newspaper.

Golden 50 — 2003

2003 Recipients

124th Summer Convention, Friday, June 20, 2003, League City

Billie Bouldin, Normangee Star
Fred C. Latcham, Beeville Bee-Picayune
Burnis Lawrence, Alpine Avalanche

Billie Bouldin, Normangee Star

They called her the “fastest Linotype operator in Texas,” and she probably was, and she came by her involvement in the newspaper business naturally.

Billie was born and raised in Mexia and decided that she wanted to be a newspaper reporter when her fourth grade teacher had her bring in articles as part of an assignment. She married Bill Moss in 1945, just before he was released from active duty following World War II. He had already been in the business, working for the Mexia Daily News, and went back to work at the Daily News following his discharge. After a stint with an oil company, he returned to the newspaper business with the Livingston Enterprise, then he and Billie moved to Normangee and went to work for Bill and Billie Perkins, who owned the Normangee Star.

The Mosses bought the Star from the Perkins in 1953, and the newspaper has remained in the Moss family since then. Billie recalls that copy was set on the Linotype — her job — and most of the ads and headlines were hand set. The paper was printed on a huge flat-bed, hand-fed — Bill’s job — 1896 Babcock press. A hand-fed — again Billie’s job — folder was also part of the operation. At one time, Bill and Billie edited and printed the Normangee Star and printed newspapers from Teague, Diboll, Marquez, North Zulch, and Hilltop Lakes. Billie said that the old press would have problems almost every week, and they relied on the skill and dedication of the local blacksmith to keep it running.

The Normangee Star has been in continuous operation since it was founded in 1912. It missed only one issue since the Moss family purchased it, and that was when a tornado destroyed much of downtown Normangee, including the newspaper office, in 1984. The paper has slowly modernized and now serves not only Normangee but the communities of Flynn and Marquez and the retirement community of Hilltop Lakes.

 Bill and Billie added a real estate office to their business enterprise in 1960 and operated both for many years. Bill died in 1987, and Billie remains a full-time owner of both businesses. She handed over the day-to-­day operation of the newspaper to a managing editor in 1990 but still lists herself as owner-publisher in the paper’s masthead.

Billie has been an active participant in her community, having served as president of the Chamber of Commerce. She has been a member of the Eastern Star for over 50 years and served as Worthy Matron. She has also performed many duties in the First Baptist Church since moving to Normangee.

Billie’s work now is devoted mostly to her real estate business. She is a Graduate Master Broker. She married Everett Bouldin in 1997. Everett worked for the Houston Chronicle for over 30 years and was at one time state circulation manager.

In 2001, the Rogers Prairie Masonic Lodge presented Billie with its annual Community Builders Award, recognizing her many years of devotion to the Normangee area.

The Mosses had four children, three sons and a daughter. One son is deceased. They have nine grandchildren, one deceased, and five great-grandchildren.

Billie has spent most of her adult life in the newspaper business. She is proud of her accomplishments. She is thankful for the support she has received from her community and the assistance from other newspapermen and women over the years. She is honored to receive the Texas Press Association’s Golden 50 Award.

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Fred C. Latcham, Beeville Bee-Picayune

Fred C. Latcham Jr. was born in 1917 to Fred and Louise Latcham of Denver, Colo. He grew up in Denver, but spent as much time as possible in the mountains, hiking and camping with friends. After graduating from East Denver High School, he enrolled at Colorado University in Boulder, where he majored in finance.

After graduating from CU, he entered the Army where he was commissioned a second lieutenant and began training with artillery. The war in Europe ended before Latcham had finished his training stateside, but he was sent to Italy in the Army of Occupation. After completing his service and an honorable discharge, Latcham hired on with Brown & Root, running a survey crew laying pipelines across the nation.

While in the Army, the second lieutenant took an occupational aptitude test that found him fit for any job other than an author or editor. (Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?) When his Brown & Root pipeline crew took up residence in Beeville, Texas, Latcham was introduced to a young lady through some bridge-playing friends. He quickly took to Joyce Atkins, daughter of George Atkins, publisher of the Beeville Bee-Picayune. Long story short, they were married and he went to work for the newspaper in 1953, learning the trade as he went.

He eventually took on the role of publisher when George Atkins died in 1959.

His proudest accomplishment at the paper bears witness to the high calling of community journalism. One afternoon, a mother of five walked in to the offices to buy a newspaper and lamented to Latcham about the high cost of education and how difficult it would be to send all her children off to college. Touched by her predicament, he wrote an editorial on the need for a junior college in Beeville. The Bee County Chamber of Commerce thought that was a fine idea and put Latcham in charge of a committee to explore it.

When all was said and done, Bee County College was born with Latcham serving as the founding chairman of the board of trustees from 1965-1978. Recently renamed Coastal Bend College to more reflect its service area, the school now serves an enrollment in excess of 3,000 with campuses in Beeville, Kingsville, Alice and Pleasanton. The academic building on the main campus is now named the Fred C. Latcham Building in his honor.

At age 85 and widowed, Latcham still goes to work every day he is able, with a driver bringing him to town in the morning and again in the afternoon. His sons, Chip, 48, and Jeff, 45, now work as co-publishers of the Bee-Picayune and its sister newspaper, The Progress, in George West and Three Rivers.

Most days still find Latcham at his desk, going through the day’s mail, signing checks and generally making sure “the boys don’t get into trouble.”

And, across from his desk, hanging on the wall is an aerial photograph of Coastal Bend College’s main campus... testimony to the important work we do as community journalists.

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Burnis Lawrence, Alpine Avalanche

Former Alpine Avalanche publisher Burnis Lawrence received the South Texas Press Association’s highest honor on April 25 with the Chester Evans Award. He was presented the award by Hondo Anvil-Herald editor and longtime friend Frances Guinn.

A retired publisher, Lawrence was president of STPA in 1977-78 and has worked for newspapers across the state.

Lawrence’s journalism career began in 1948, when an instructor and a couple of his friends at Stephen F. Austin State University forged his signature on a letter of application for the position of editor of the college publication, the Pine Log. When the president called Lawrence to congratulate him on the appointment, he was surprised but accepted to show his friends he could do the job.

In 1950 he was hired by Charles Guy, publisher of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal. Then in 1951 he became editor of the Post Dispatch, where he remained until 1953. After a short stint with the Pecos Enterprise, the Air Force recalled him and, while stationed at Connaly Air Force Base in Waco, Lawrence worked nights at the Waco Tribune.

After orders sent him to Shepherds Air Field in England in 1956, he edited the base newspaper there. In 1958, now out of the Air Force, Lawrence worked at the Beeville Bee Picayune.

A group of businessmen convinced him to start up a newspaper in Refugio, and in 1959, the County Press was born. From there, in 1962 Lawrence worked with publisher Ward Lowe at the Lampasas Dispatch.

Although he spent some time with Vern Sanford at the Texas Press Association in 1963, the lure of the road enticed Lawrence to Weslaco in 1964, where he edited the Weslaco News; then, in 1965, he hired on with Otha Grisham at the Seguin Enterprise as editor.

From 1970 to 1981, Lawrence stayed with Bill Berger and the Hondo Anvil Herald, then moved to the Mathis News where he was editor until 1983.

In 1986 Lawrence purchased the Crosby County News from Jim Reynolds, and in 1995 he took on the publisher’s job at the Alpine Avalanche, remaining there until his retirement in October 1998. He still writes his “Dear Boss” column for the Avalanche.

Lawrence is a World War II veteran, serving in the Army-Air Corps as a P-38 aircraft mechanic. He celebrated V-E Day in London in front of Buckingham Palace.

He was recalled to the Air Force in 1953, and remained in the military until 1957. In the Air Force reserves until 1981, he retired as a full bird colonel.

Lawrence has a degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, and earned his four-year diploma in five semesters.

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Golden 50 — 2004

2004 Recipients

125th Summer Convention, Friday, June 18, 2004, Austin

James Thomas "Jimmy" Bass, Mount Vernon Optic Herald
Wayne Greer, Graham Newspapers
Arlan Hays, San Augustine Tribune
Roger W. Jones, Riesel Rustler
Stella Orozco, San Antonio Commercial Recorder
William B. "Bill" Wilkerson, Pleasanton Express
Patricia Bass Wright, Mount Vernon Optic Herald

James T. “Jimmy” Bass

James T. “Jimmy” Bass began his newspaper career on the Jefferson Jimplecute in 1927 at the age of 12. He delivered the Jimplecute on horseback and learned typesetting and printing.

In 1933, he went to work for the Longview News and Journal. He was working for Charles K. Devall at the Kilgore newspaper when he married Lonatish Hebisen in March 1937. She had a family background in the weekly newspaper business in Forney and Emory, knowledge that would benefit the family later. Shortly after the marriage, they moved to Beverly Hills, Calif., where Jimmy worked for Will Rogers, Jr., who published the Beverly Hills Citizen and several other newspapers for the Los Angeles area.

They returned to Longview in October 1937 and he worked for the News and Journal, until July 1, 1951, when Jim and Tish both went to work for the Gladewater Daily Mirror.

On May 1, 1952, Jim and Tish bought the Mount Vernon Optic-Herald. The entire family went to work on the newspaper.

They bought the present building that houses the Optic in 1963. The couple oversaw the conversion to offset printing in November 1971. Another event, noted with publication on Nov. 22, 1973, was the return of Bob and Pat Wright to the Optic-Herald family. The combined Bass-Wright group formed Four Corners Publishing, Inc. and purchased the Deport Times, Bogata News and the Talco Times, and printed the first edition of the papers under new ownership by offset. The Blossom Times was established on Oct. 28, 1976, completing the small chain of newspapers.

Jimmy Bass was active in all facets of life in Mount Vernon, and was president of the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce the same year. Posthumously, he was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Mount Vernon Rotary Club. He was the local observer for the National Weather Service from 1966 until 1986. His editorial in favor of building Lake Cypress Springs influenced the election, which passed by a margin of fewer than 30 votes. The lake was discovered by residents of the Metroplex and now the homes surrounding the lake provide a substantial tax base for Franklin County.

He was president of North and East Texas Press and received the Sam C. Holloway Memorial Award from that organization.

The newspaper won many contests in North and East Texas Press and in Texas Press, but he published his newspaper for the people of Mount Vernon and Franklin County. His “Optics” column was a favorite of readers.

He continued to work part-time at the newspaper even after it was sold to his daughter and son-in-law, Bob and Pat Wright, in 1980. He died in 1987, leaving a legacy of community newspapering for his family.

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Wayne Greer

Wayne Greer has left miles of ink, grease and smiles across the dusty roads of West and South Texas, forging a half-century trail to Graham.

Although his travels have taken him through good times and bad, he’s never lost his sense of humor nor pride in his craft.

His first taste of the newspaper business came soon after a short stint on a turkey farm.

“We were as poor as a church mouse,” Greer recalls. “When Dad had a heart attack, I had to go to work, but I wanted to finish high school.”

Greer worked at odd jobs, and while in the eighth grade tried his hand in the fowl industry.

The third day of his freshman year he quit the turkey business and went to work for the Coleman County Chronicle & Democrat-Voice.

Greer earned enough money to help out the family, buy school clothes and keep a jingle in his pocket, but most importantly he was learning a trade.

“My first job at The Chronicle was whatever they told me to do,” Greer explains. “This was back in the old hot-metal days. Anything bigger than 18-point we had to handset.”

Greer left The Chronicle to enroll at the University of Texas at Austin, but his college career was short lived. “I ran out of money the first semester,” Greer recalls. “And I was too stubborn to take any handouts.”

Although the publisher of The Chronicle and a local lawyer offered to bankroll his education, Wayne refused, preferring to make it on his own. He did, however, take the publisher up on his old job.

By the time he left The Chronicle in 1966, he was shop foreman with a firm grasp of the inner workings of a newspaper and commercial print shop from the ground up.

He gained most of his notoriety as a fix-it man.

“I was born with a mechanical ability,” Greer says. “I grew up on a farm and was always working on cars.

“I always figured if somebody was smart enough to build it, I could read a book and fix it.

“I’ll work on anything but the crack of dawn or a broken heart.”

After a short-lived career with the Temple Daily Telegram – “I didn’t get along with the superintendent” – he found his niche at The McCamey News.

With two weeklies and a large commercial printing business, Greer soon made his way once again to shop foremen. Greer stayed on in McCamey for nearly four years before trying his hand in other parts of the state. But the dye was cast.

In August 1969 he was in Longview and by the early 1970s he was with the Houston Chronicle.

“I had the opportunity to start learning cold type,” Greer remembers.

The newspaper sent him to the East Coast for schooling. In New York he attended one of the last schools put on by Merganthaler Linotype in a last-ditch effort to keep the hot-metal process alive. In Boston he was introduced to an Electronic Character Recognition Machine, the early predecessor of today’s print scanners.

Having built a reputation as a troubleshooter all across Texas, Greer returned to McCamey in 1975 after “me and the union got cross ways.”

On Jan. 1, 1980, he was owner – “chief cook and bottle washer” – of The McCamey News. The publication and the print shop it housed also served the even smaller community of Iraan.

As publisher/editor/sales manager, Greer slowly built the business up to seven employees and a circulation of 1,200.

“It wasn’t very big; it was a small weekly. But we had a large commercial printing business for office supplies and silk screening T-shirts, ball caps, you name it,” he says

He served almost 30 years in the volunteer fire service, signing on with the McCamey EMS while it was in its infancy and becoming a member of the Upton County Civil Defense Rescue.

“I’d get to a scene as an EMS and when the emergency was over, I’d pull off my EMS hat and put on my publisher’s hat. I got a lot of pictures I wouldn’t have otherwise,” Greer says.

His willingness to help others has forged many a friendship within the business, but none so apparent as the Moores in Ozona.

“He was a blessing to Linda and me,” says Scotty Moore, recently retired publisher of the Ozona Stockman. “Without him and his tremendous expertise and knowledge of the printing industry, we probably would have thrown up our hands in disgust a long time ago, with a for-sale sign on the front door.”

After a quarter of a century running his McCamey empire, a domestic disagreement with his wife left him without a home or a job.

“I was self-employed until June 1998. I got fired,” he jokes.

An advertisement in the Texas Press Association newsletter led Greer to Graham Newspapers Inc., and in April 1999, he signed on as pressroom foreman.

The Graham group’s publishing business has flourished under Greer’s gentle tutelage. The company has gone from a six-unit News King in the back shop to a million-dollar, nine-unit Web Leader setup with its own building.

Greer’s day-to-day operations at Graham Newspapers Inc. include overseeing printing five of the company’s six publications, The Graham Leader, Olney Enterprise, Jacksboro Gazette-News, Jack County Herald and Lake Country Sun – the companion Breckenridge American has its own press – and several commercial jobs.

He keeps the Web Leader and all the peripheral printing necessities – imagesetter, plate burner, inserter, etc. – in tip-top condition.

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Arlan Hays

In May 1916, the San Augustine Tribune came into the Hays family. Webster F. Hays, a veteran newspaperman and printer, bought the Tribune from Mrs. Bernice Harrison whose husband had edited it for four years before his death.

When Webb Hays came to San Augustine in 1916, he had three children ages 6, 4 and 2 and another girl came within a month of his arrival in San Augustine. In 1918, another girl was born.

The Tribune was a family operation, which had very little advertising and a meager circulation. When Hays took over the Tribune he brought an unmarried sister who had worked with him as a typesetter in Mt. Enterprise. Several years later she married the printer, who was working at the Tribune.

The circulation began to grow also and by the Depression in 1930 the Tribune had more than 1,000 subscribers.

Newsprint was not scarce during World War I but it was very short in World War II, and advertising was also short.

Webb Hays published newspapers in Central Texas, at Itasca, Copperas Cove, Hondo and other towns in the early 1900’s and he found that to have an editorial or a personal column every week was impractical due to the lack of important subjects, so a personal column and an editorial page was not featured. An occasional editorial, when the need arose, was very powerful but the Tribune’s policy was, and still is, to use editorials very sparingly.

Webb’s middle son, Arlan Hays, began helping in the shop at the age of 12, doing what he could do. In 1926 a new job press was purchased and his dad had him make up the form and print the first job on the new press. The press is still in the shop, and in usable condition, although it has not run in about 30 years.

Until the early 1970’s, the Tribune was printed on a four-page single revolution printing press that had been one of the battery of presses in the Houston Chronicle in the 1890’s.

It was a single sheet, hand fed press that had a speed of about 1200 sheets an hour. It printed up to four pages at a time.

In the early part of 1933, after Arlan Hays had graduated from high school the year before, he took over operation of the printing plant while Webb and oldest daughter, Beryl handled the news department. He is still associated with the publication at age 90.

Offset printing, which the Tribune joined in early 1970 and faster photography, drastically changed operations. Beginning at the age of 13 or 14, Stephen Hays, Arlan Hays’ only son, grew up with the photography department, which carried some of the other newspaper and reporting skill with it. In 1997, Stephen joined his dad in the operation of the Tribune and is co-publisher.

Webster Hays died Aug. 31, 1968 at 87 after spending a lifetime serving his community.

The Tribune also has the enviable record of only missing the mail twice in the 88 years that the Hays family has operated it. One publication in 1920 when a fire next door filled the building with smoke and firemen wet the machinery by mistake and again in 1995 during an electrical failure at the central printing plant.

The Tribune’s circulation has grown from the few hundred copies when Webster Hays started in 1916 to a peak of 5,400 in the mid 1990s.

The current circulation is about 4,500.

The Tribune is proud of a feature known as the J.E. Miller Memorial Fund that allows a copy of the Tribune to be sent to residents in local nursing homes free each week.

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Roger W. Jones

After growing up around newspapers such as the Scurry County Times, Hamlin Herald, Haskell Free Press, owned and operated by his uncle Willard Jones, a longtime TPAer, and the Waco Tribune-Herald, where his father was a Linotype operator and night ad foreman, Roger W. Jones went to work as a printer’s devil in 1951 at the Waco Tribune-Herald at the age of 15.

By completing his courses of study in the International Typographical Union, which required working in all aspects of the Composing Room, Jones left the Waco newspaper and took a position in the composing room of The Dallas Morning News in 1960.

In September 1961, Jones and his wife Barbara purchased the Waco Farm and Labor Journal, along with Pittillo Printing Co. and in September 1987 they bought the Riesel Rustler at Riesel and started Hometown News, a weekly newspaper to serve the Southwestern section of McLennan County.

The desire was to get away from the hard news of daily newspapers and to run a lot of pictures and stories of local Little League, school, church and smaller cities within their area.

This has been a labor of love and several honors have been received, including the statewide award of the Association of Texas Professional Educators’ Alafair Hammett Award in 1997 (two statewide awards are given each year, one to the electronic media, and one to the print media that have been judged to have done the best job of promoting the Texas public school system.)

In addition, Midway Independent School District PTA honored Jones as a lifetime member of Texas PTA.

In 1998, in recognition of his contributions to the Hometown News area Roger was presented the Hewitt Hero Award by the Hewitt, Texas Chamber of Commerce.

“I still consider myself a printer and newspaper man of the old school, having operated a printing company and newspaper or newspapers as editor and publisher since 1961. I feel that through these channels I have been able to, in some small way, repay my community for the outstanding opportunities that have been afforded my family and myself,” Roger said.

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Stella Orozco

Stella Orozco started working for the daily Commercial Recorder in San Antonio June 8, 1951 fresh out of high school.  Her career started as a part-time employee working for Mrs. Miskimin, the daughter of the newspaper’s founder. Mrs. Miskimin recognized Orozo’s abilities and promoted her to a full-time position the next week.

Over the years the Commercial Recorder has seen several owners, the most recent being Bill Johnson, each of whom has kept Orozco in her position as legal editor of the paper and corporate grand master of Prime Time, Inc.

Orozco’s knowledge of legal notices is beyond reproach. She is the “source.” Her expertise is called upon by local courts as well as attorneys and she is highly regarded by both the District and County Clerks’ offices.

Day-in and day-out for the last 53 years she has cheerfully proofed every page of San Antonio’s legal paper. She has proofed famous births, deaths, seen the transfers of property that have resulted in San Antonio’s tremendous growth and read many a lawsuit and disposition.

Orozco has lived newspaper history having been involved in producing daily papers using technology ranging from hand set type to the modern computer age. She has been dragged, kicking and screaming at times, through technological innovations.

Her old manual Royal typewriter still decorates the office along with many of the antiques she has acquired over the years. Now, she is computer savvy. E-mail and the Internet don’t scare her!

In addition to being the Bexar County “Legal Eagle,” Orozco found the time to raise four wonderful children and has a whole group of very talented grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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William B. “Bill” Wilkerson

If William (Bill) Brightman Wilkerson’s blood isn’t burnt orange due from his many years of devotion to the University of Texas at Austin, then it is surely ink.

Born to J. C. and Alma May Wilkerson April 12, 1929, Wilkerson became a second generation newspaper man at the early age of 8 as a printer’s devil at the Comanche Chief where his father was the publisher. He worked many hours during his youth and has scars from the hot lead as proof.

Wilkerson graduated from the University of Texas in 1951 and married his college sweetheart Judith Blanton Wilkerson in 1950. She also has ink in her blood as her mother, Katherine Englebright Blanton, was the society editor of the Temple Daily Telegram.

While at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn during the Korean Conflict, he attended night school to learn the ins and outs of a machine he grew to hate — the Linotype. In 1956, he returned to Comanche to serve as editor of the Comanche Chief shortly after his brother James passed away. Three children were born and raised in this newspaper family — David, Katie and Noel.

While running the Comanche Chief, the Wilkersons also bought the De Leon Free Press, which they owned and served as publishers until 1998. In 1974, he and Judy sold their interest in the Chief and purchased the Pleasanton Express from Ruth Daetwyler after her husband and the Wilkerson’s longtime friend, Wally, succumbed to cancer in 1973. A natural ad salesman by heart coupled with outstanding business smarts, success was sure to follow Wilkerson.

The paper prospered during the heyday of the oil field boom and held tight during the bust. All the while, he maintained the credo “Let’s get the best product we can out there and have as much fun as we can!”

Under his watchful eye, the Pleasanton Express has continued to prosper, grow and become a respected publication among its peers. Over the past 30 years, the newspaper has won more than 100 awards from the South Texas Press Association and Texas Press Association with a quarter of them being first-place honors.

In the 80’s, Bill and Judy Wilkerson joined Bill Berger of the Hondo Anvil Herald in establishing the South Texas Press. Craig Garnett with the Uvalde Leader-News has since joined them in this successful partnership that currently prints numerous weeklies, inserts and other collateral material.

Wilkerson has maintained a close affiliation with the South Texas Press Association family where he served as president from 1968-69, and secretary/treasurer from 1985-2004. There have been only three secretary/treasurers in STPA’s 77-year history! Wilkerson, who never met a party he didn’t like, has only missed one STPA convention since 1956 and that was because he was flat on his back in the hospital. Bill and Judy Wilkerson were the youngest couple when they joined STPA and now they are the oldest couple in attendance. He has also served as a board member and member of the Texas Press Association for many years.

Bill and Judy Wilkerson retired from the everyday grind in 1989 and moved to Austin where they remain as owners and publishers.

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Patricia Bass “Pat” Wright

Patricia Bass Wright started working in May 1952 at age 9 after her parents, Jim and Tish Bass, bought the Mount Vernon Optic-Herald. She stood on boxes to set type from California job cases and ran the Linotype machine. She shot sideline photos at football games during the third quarter when she was off from playing in the Mount Vernon High School Band.

She graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 1960 and attained a BS degree in journalism and business management from East Texas State University in 1964. She was business manager, then editor of The East Texan, the school newspaper, and later was assistant of the college magazine, the Locust Special. In 1996, she was named an ambassador of the Alumni Association. Upon graduation from East Texas, she moved to Denison, where she sold advertising for the Denison Herald and did volunteer work with the Girls Club.

After eight years at the Herald, she became retail advertising manager at the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel.

She married Robert W. Wright in November 1972 and they moved to Baton Rouge, La., in April 1973.

In November 1973, the couple bought the Deport Times, Talco Times and the Bogata News and went into partnership with her parents. They founded the Blossom Times in 1976.

Following the illness and retirement of Jim Bass in 1980, the Wrights moved to Mount Vernon and bought the Bass’ interest in the Optic-Herald. The smaller newspapers were sold in 1982.

That same year, the newspaper won the Sweepstakes Award from the North and East Texas Press Association, the first of several journalism and photography awards for the newspaper since that time.

She was awarded the Sam C. Holloway Award from the North and East Texas Press Association for outstanding contributions to her profession in 1991. She has been president of NETPA.

She became publisher of the Optic-Herald upon the death of her husband in April 1997.

Wright is a pilot and founding member and officer of the Wildflower Chapter of “The Ninety-Nines,” an international association of women pilots.

She and her late husband were the driving forces in getting an airport in Franklin County, a dream that became a reality in July 1987. The Franklin County Airport was completed with state and federal funds, and a terminal and community hall were built with community donations.

She has served on the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, and is still on the Airport Board and the Mount Vernon Housing Authority Board. She served 17 years as a volunteer Accident Prevention Counselor with the Federal Aviation Administration. As a member of Rotary, she has been named a Paul Harris Fellow.

Pat is a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Mount Pleasant. She has served on the vestry and currently serves as a lay-reader.

She supports countless community projects as publisher of the Mount  Vernon Optic-Herald, not the least of which was helping to raise funds and build the School Bus Accident Memorial now standing on the grounds at the Mount Vernon School campus.

Within the next year, she will extend the legacy of the newspaper by selling it to the third generation, a niece, Susan Reeves, and her husband, John.

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Golden 50 — 2005

2005 Recipients

126th Summer Convention, Friday, June 17, 2005, Las Colinas

Patrick Martin, Normangee Star
Charlotte Thurman, Plainview Daily Herald
Norman S. "Scottie" White Jr., Riesel Rustler

Patrick Martin

Patrick Martin is a fixture at not only The Normangee Star, but in the community itself. The 68-year-old Martin was born in Galveston, but moved to Normangee as a young child. He has moved away several times, but always manages to find his way back to his hometown.

Martin began working in newspaper and journalism-related fields in 1952 when, as a sophomore at Normangee High School, he began writing a weekly column and covering sports for Bill and Billie Moss at The Normangee Star. He graduated from Normangee High in 1955, and began attending Sam Houston State Teacher’s College. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism there in 1958.

While at Sam Houston, Martin was a charter member of Sigma Delta Chi/Society of Professional Journalists’ student chapter. And, during his final semester, Martin served as editor of the school’s publication, The Houstonian.

After graduation, Martin worked as a journalism teacher for one year at Huntsville High School. In November 1959 he joined the U.S. Navy Reserves, but went directly into active duty, until November 1961. While serving in the U.S. Navy, Martin worked for the public information office for the commander of the First Fleet.

After being discharged, Martin returned to Huntsville High to teach for one semester, until May 1962. The following school year, he moved to Tyler, and worked three years as a journalism teacher at Tyler Robert E. Lee High School.

While at Tyler Lee, Martin was one of 12 journalism teachers chosen nationwide in 1963 to receive a Wall Street Journal fellowship, and studied for the summer at Columbia University.

In 1965 Martin moved on to Grayson College in Sherman/Denison, where he taught journalism and served as director of public relations until 1970.

In 1966 Martin received a master’s degree in school/community relations from Texas A&M University. His was the first master’s degree ever awarded by the university in the field.

During this time, Martin didn’t forget Normangee. While attending Sam Houston and Texas A&M, he returned to Normangee during the summer months to work for The Normangee Star. And it was while doing this that he knew a career in journalism was for him, as he loved to run the Linotype machine and hand-set front page headlines for the Mosses.

In 1970 Martin moved to Dallas, where he taught three years at Eastfield College. He then took advanced journalism courses at North Texas State University for a semester, before accepting a post in 1974 with the Texas Education Agency in Austin, serving as program director in dissemination.

He was responsible for identifying effective classroom programs, preparing publications about them, and distributing them through the state’s 20 Education Service Centers to various school districts.

In 1980 Martin moved to Washington, D.C., where he was hired for a two-year tenure to manage the federally-funded Council of Chief State School Officers, the professional association for heads of department of education for all 50 states and U.S. territories. In 1982 he was named as assistant executive director of the same organization, and was responsible for preparing the board’s publications, writing the newsletter and maintaining the organization’s Web site.

While in Washington, D.C., Martin also served as director of the National Teacher of the Year Program. And, his final year there, Martin’s procedures for choosing the National Teacher of the Year were modified by him for NASA for use in the Teacher in Space Program, which eventually chose Christa McAuliffe to become the first teacher in space.

In 1985 Martin moved to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and owned and operated a bar and restaurant. He said he was “blown back home” to Normangee in 1989 by Hurricane Hugo.

Martin took over as editor of The Normangee Star in 1989, hired by old friend Billie Moss Bouldin. He continued to work full time for The Star until October 2004, when he chose to semi-retire.

He continues to periodically write columns and stories for The Star. During his tenure with the newspaper, it won numerous regional and state writing awards.

Martin is a past president of the Texas Junior College Teachers Association, and a past president of the Texas Gulf Coast Press Association. He currently is involved in the Normangee Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hilltop Lakes Lions Club.

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Charlotte Thurman

Charlotte Thurman plans to retire this summer after 50 years with the Plainview Daily Herald.

Although her title is secretary to the editor, she performs a variety of duties including writing obituaries, scanning and filing copy, pinch-hitting with writing lifestyles, church copy and an occasional feature and — her favorite task — dealing with the public.

Raised on a farm about 20 miles from Plainview, she was told about a job opening at the paper in June 1955 by a girlfriend, who was dating the sports editor at the time. She started out “punching tape” for the Linotype machines, which she also learned to operate.

As it turned out, she could punch type at 110 words a minute, recalling that she knocked out a Bible-sized legal from the city in an hour and a half to make the day’s mid-afternoon deadline

She remembers The Herald getting a paper out with the help of a generator after a tornado knocked out power to downtown Plainview in April 1970 with reporters writing stories by the light of kerosene and Coleman lanterns.

Over her 50-year career — exclusively with the Plainview Daily Herald — she has worked with just three editors — the late Herb Hilburn, Jim Servatius (retired editor of the Midland Reporter-Telegram) and Danny Andrews (since 1978).

But she has worked with probably a thousand other employees and has been the “photo historian,” noting with a laugh that “I have boxes full of pictures but I don’t know who all the people who are in the pictures.

“I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve dealt with and the people I’ve worked with. We’ve always had such a good camaraderie at The Herald. I cry when people bring in obituaries and we have fun when they have good news. I’m a weeper and keep a box of tissues handy.”

She commiserates with those who have suffered tragedy, being a cancer survivor and having lost her husband of 48 years, E.E. “Buddy” Thurman, to a heart attack in 2000.

Owner of two palomino quarter horses, she has been a member of the Bar-None Rodeo Drill Team since 1979; is a ham radio operator (WA5MIQ); collects horse memorabilia; and enjoys her family — a son and daughter and their spouses, two grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

She plans to travel (she’s been to Europe twice), take care of her acreage and animals and to continue playing cards with friends.

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Norman S. “Scottie” White Jr.

Norman S. “Scottie” White Jr. was almost literally “born in the back shop.” Nedra Allein White, his mother, set type for the newspaper all night, walked half a block home in an ice storm and gave birth to a baby son the next day.

Newspapers ran in the White family. Norman S. Sr. and Nedra Allein White both received Golden 50 Awards from TPA, in 1979 and 1983 respectively.

“I started working at the family newspaper, The Riesel Rustler, as soon as I could, throwing in type and band-setting titles for movie theater ads. I began learning the Linotype at about 12 years old and worked at The Rustler until I graduated from high school,” White said.

White went to Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos as a journalism major and was on the staff of the College Star for the two years he attended the college. The last semester of his sophomore year White became the college’s sports information director after the person who held the post left. He also played basketball for two years.

White then transferred to Baylor University where he graduated in 1953 with a bachelor of arts in journalism.

During his two years at Baylor he worked full time for Sam Pyland at the Falls County Record then for Bonner McMillion at the Brazos Valley Times in Marlin as Linotype operator, pressman and sports writer.

After graduation, White entered the Army and was stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., where he spent two years in the Army field printing plant as a Linotype operator, pressman and proof reader.

After discharge from the Army, he returned to Texas and went to back to work at The Rustler, where the family also published The Lou Post.

“In 1968, my dad was appointed postmaster and I became editor until 1985, when the paper was sold to Roger Jones of Waco,” White recalled. “I then became editor of Hometown News, a total-market-coverage newspaper in suburban Waco and southwest McLennan County, and continued as editor of The Rustler. I retired in 1999, but have continued part-time on both newspapers.”

The Rustler has won first-place awards from Texas Press Association and North and East Texas Press Association, as well as numerous second and third place awards. White has received several individual awards from various local and state organizations.

On Dec. 13, 1953, he married Patsy Bryant of Marlin and started “the best 51 years of my life.” The couple has four children plus an international daughter in California, and 13 grandchildren.

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Golden 50 — 2006

2006 Golden 50 Recipients

Awarded June 23, 3006, at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott

Mary Helen & Charles Gentry
Mary Mae McDonald Hartley
Betty Humphrey
Mildred Skapple
Dalton Wood

Mary Helen & Charles Gentry

Mary Helen Gentry’s father Chester Alexander Nowlin worked for several local weekly papers in the Ellis/Navarro/Kaufman County area, and her family moved from Rice to Ennis when she was a month old. He worked at the Ennis Daily News, which at that time also published the Palmer Rustler and Ennis Weekly Local, then bought controlling interest of the newspaper in 1939. He was editor and publisher until he had a stroke.

Mary Helen Gentry’s brother Weldon Nowlin was discharged from the Army and returned to run the paper. Eventually, her husband Charles Gentry came to work for the print shop, and was made the manager in 1951 when Weldon Nowlin died. Mary Helen’s mother, Helen Nowlin, remained publisher of the Ennis Daily News until she died and Charles Gentry was made publisher.

Mary Helen Gentry grew up in the newspaper business and started working at the Ennis Daily News in 1945. As a high school junior she started proofreading for the family’s newspaper.

“The wire service came in from Dallas on a Continental bus, and I would go and pick it up at the bus station every day,” she said.

Plans to go to college were put on hold when the society editor got married and Mary Helen needed to stay at the paper and help.

Over the years, she did everything from classified ads and proofing to bookkeeping and advertising accounts. She managed circulation, and eventually became society editor, and on occasion managed the Upco print shop.

“The Ennis Daily News will always be the first love of my heart,” she said.

The paper remained in the Gentry family until it was sold to Ellis County Newspapers Inc. in 1996.

Mary Helen Gentry has continued to write her column “On The Avenue” over the years. The column was a feature of the Ennis Daily News even before Mary Helen was its author. For a time, it was written by her mother and still appears under Mary Helen’s by-line in the Ennis Daily News each week.

“The column ‘On the Avenue’ was there before my Mama wrote it, it has gone on with the paper,” she said.

Mary Helen Gentry also continues to write a cooking column for the Ennis Daily News.

She and her husband Charles are still very active members of the Ennis community, volunteering their time to various civic organizations. They frequent the offices of the Ennis Daily News several times a week.

Mary Mae McDonald Hartley

Mary Mae McDonald Hartley entered the University of Texas immediately after high school graduation in the summer of 1944 and majored in journalism. She worked on The Daily Texan for three years covering women’s sports, and had a by-line story virtually every single day she worked there.

Despite her heavy reporting duties, Hartley earned high grades in all subjects, was honored with the prestigious “Goodfellow” award for all-around excellence at UT, was president of her sorority Delta Zeta for two years and was a Bluebonnet Belle nominee for campus beauty.

Her first job out of college in 1948 was as a reporter on the weekly Colorado County Citizen in Columbus for editor/publisher Truman McMahan, with whom she maintained a life-long friendship until his death in the late 1990s.

Within a year, Texas Press Association general manager Vernon T. Sanford called on Hartley to work at TPA, editing the Texas Press Messenger monthly trade publication — thus began a 30+ year association with TPA.

Hartley went to work for the Austin American-Statesman for several years after her first TPA stint, and took an interim short-term summer job at the Amarillo Times, a daily tabloid, during her Statesman years.

TPA called her back to Austin, and from the late 1950s until the mid-1980s, TPA was never without Hartley as editor of the Messenger and often in other capacities: she served as assistant to the executive director of TPA under the various tenures of Sanford, William G. Boykin and Lyndell Williams.

Whether she was working full-time or part-time for TPA, Hartley also was a public relations freelancer, handling such accounts as the American Heart Association, the Korean Children’s Choir Texas Tour, the American Red Cross and the Junior League’s Settlement Home in the time before non-profit entities made a PR director part of their regular payroll.

Often Hartley and her husband, commercial artist and American-Statesman staff artist Harry Hartley, would team up — she writing the copy and he creating the graphics for many print media projects.

Both often freelanced, being members of the notoriously low-pay journalism trade, to help take care of their three daughters. Harry Hartley drew many a Texas Press Messenger cover back in the days when it was a slick, magazine-style monthly publication.

Hartley also was a regular contributor to the Austin Chamber of Commerce monthly magazine, and edited several trade publications such as the Texas Association of Dry Cleaners monthly and many others.

Besides editing and writing almost all of the copy for the Messenger, one of her main tasks at TPA was planning, organizing and coordinating every facet of the June and midwinter conventions.

The Golden 50 Award was conceived and first awarded in 1963 while Hartley was at TPA during her most heavily involved years, as well as the building and growth years of TPA itself.

She helped organize TPA’s former Texan of the Year award for such Texas greats at Hoss Cartwright, Miss America Phyllis George, pianist Van Cliburn and many other luminaries.

Hartley’s daughter Donna Hartley Lucas well remembers the day she and her sisters sat on Dale Rogers’ and Roy Rogers’ laps while her mother interviewed the beloved couple for the Messenger. Dale gave her baby sister Harriet her 2 p.m. bottle that day.

Hartley once had an appointment to photograph Gov. Allan Shivers, and she brought all three daughters along because they were on spring break. But unknown to her mother Donna Hartley had stowed her new Pomeranian puppy in a handbag and just before the photo was snapped the dog got loose and threw up on the governor’s mansion carpet.

Hartley was always a reporter, and in 1966 when Charles Whitman went on his deadly shooting spree atop the UT Tower she ran outside the TPA offices on San Antonio Street just off the main “drag” of the UT campus within range of the rifle shots to be a living eyewitness to the mayhem while “everyone else got under their desks.”

Hartley left TPA in the early 1980s to write books. Her first book was a children’s storybook, “Mariposa, Magical Stories of Texas,” published by Eakin Press.

She also authored non-fiction works “A Hand on Their Shoulders” about Texas’ Marbridge Youth Ranch, and “Almost to Heaven” about the Lion’s Club camp for children.

She has written about David Ruiz, a prison inmate instrumental in correctional system reform in the 1970s, and Ben Jack Cage, a notorious high-flying embezzler of the 1950s, a highly possible model for the 1980s fictional J.R. Ewing. Cage is Hartley’s first cousin. Hartley traveled to Brazil and Chile pursuing the Cage story.

In the 1990s she was a paid cruise lecturer on writing memoirs for a special writers’ cruise to Australia and New Zealand, surviving a storm at sea near Tasmania that injured numerous ship passengers.

From 1985-99 she taught creative and non-fiction writing and journalism techniques at McLennan Community College, Bosque Conservatory of Fine Arts, and Southwest Texas State University community education department.

She lives in Austin with her dog Emily and cockatiel Cassie, and is still writing and outlining future books.

Betty Humphrey

Betty Humphrey, the Fort Bend Herald’s society editor, has been on the job for nearly 54 years.

She began her stint at what was then The Rosenberg Herald fresh out of high school on Oct. 8, 1952, as Betty Dawes. The night she graduated in the Top 10 percent of her class at Rosenberg High School, she was offered a job by publisher Donald B. Bryant, who had seen — and was impressed with — some of the articles she penned for the Rosenberg Chamber of Commerce and submitted to The Herald and the Houston Chronicle.

At that time, the newspaper was published weekly and, as Bryant’s secretary, Humphrey sat on a wooden drawer to take dictation.

Humphrey has seen a lot of changes in the more than half-century since her career began, and met countless celebrities along the way. Among them are Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard and Pat Nixon, George Bush, George W. Bush, Willie Nelson and George Strait.

But Humphrey says she has never been particularly impressed with celebrity, preferring, instead, to visit with the folks of the community she has served over the past 54 years, helping them observe births, weddings, anniversaries, and making sure their obituaries are correct.

In 1957, four years after she married Guy Humphrey, the late Fred Hartman and his newspaper associates of Southern Newspapers Inc. added the Rosenberg Herald and The Texas Coaster, Richmond’s newspaper, to their stable of community publications, when a partnership was formed with then owners Windel Shannon and his wife, Pat.

Humphrey was part of the new staff when the two newspapers were merged into the semiweekly Herald-Coaster in 1958, and she was there when the publication became a daily newspaper in 1967, about the time she says she and her female coworkers were allowed to wear “trousers” to the workplace.

Bill Hartman and Hartman Newspapers became the owner of The Herald-Coaster (now the Fort Bend Herald) in 1974.

Among her most treasured recognitions was that of 1999 Fort Bend County Fair Honored Volunteer.

She has for many years been a member of several organizations throughout the county, including the Rosenberg Business and Profession Women’s Club, and the Milton Brenner Post 3903 VFW Ladies Auxiliary.

She and her husband have five children: Lynn, Bubba, Kevin, Lisa and the late Bill, who was killed in a car/train collision. All five children worked at The Herald-Coaster at one time or another. The Humphreys also have 10 grandchildren.

“When you’re having fun, time just flies,” she says, adding the newspaper has provided “a wonderful life for me and my family.”

“I thank the Lord for loving what I do and getting to do what I love,” she said.

Mildred Skapple

Mildred Skapple started as a reader for Texas Press Clipping Service in April 1956 and began a 50-year association that earned her the title of clipping bureau manager.

Texas Press Clipping Service was a highly-successful arm of Texas Press Association. Readers scanned all the newspapers in Texas each day for target words provided by clients and then clipped applicable stories for clients all over the state and even outside Texas.

The service was sold to Geotel’s Newz Group in Missouri in April 1999 but Skapple remained on staff and still works in client relations today.

TPA Executive Vice President Lyndell Williams in the 1980 anniversary book called Skapple “a jewel of a commander.”

Skapple is TPA’s longest term employee in years of service, racking up 44 years of service while the bureau was part of TPA.

When she was first employed as a reader in April 1956, the department employed only four people to handle its initial 13 accounts. She was appointed supervisor one year later.

By 1980, the department had grown to 15 employees handling 510 accounts. Among those accounts were state and national office holders and politicians, utility companies, lawyers, large corporations, hotels, chambers of commerce and industrial organizations.

Skapple recalled that the clipping bureau even furnished news and photo clips that were mounted into scrapbooks and presented to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. But one of the most unusual clipping accounts over the years, she once recalled, was from the owner of a thoroughbred stud horse who wanted all the mares in Texas to realize that he had hung up his horseshoes.

During the 1978-79 fiscal year, the bureau processed and mailed a total of 606,651 individual clippings.

Skapple is an Amarillo Sandy, having been reared in that Panhandle city. She and her husband Rodney first came to Austin so that he could study structural engineering. A good family team, Mildred worked to finance Rodney’s education and they raised two sons, Kim and Randy. She still lives in Austin.

Dalton Wood

Dalton Wood graduated from Jacksboro High School in 1946 and earned a bachelor of arts in journalism in August 1950 at North Texas State University in Denton (later University of North Texas).

His first newspaper job was as a reporter for the weekly Graham Newsfoto in September 1950.

From November 1950 to early 1951 he was a reporter and photographer for the Vernon Record. In 1951 he moved to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal as reporter and photographer, and later that year joined the news desk as rim man (copy editor and headline writer).

Wood soon left Lubbock for the big city in 1952 to become a copy editor and headline writer for the Dallas Times Herald but he returned a year later in 1953 to the Avalanche-Journal as chief editorial writer. He later moved to the copy desk as editor and supervising reporters.

In 1955 Wood moved to Indiana where he purchased the weekly Newburgh Register. He also worked part time as copy editor/headline writer/layout at the daily Evansville Courier and Press.

Just a few years later in 1959 he returned to Texas and purchased weekly newspapers in Sudan, the Beacon-News, and the Amherst Press in a town seven miles away.

Later he established a new weekly paper at Shallowater, the Star, which was published for several years. During the early 1960s he also owned the Four County News at Anton.

In 1965 Wood joined staff of the Plainview Daily Herald as news editor, editing and supervising copy of reporters, choosing stories from Associated Press and United Press wire services, writing headlines and laying out all the newspaper except society and sports pages.

He also taught night and late afternoon classes in journalism and English at Wayland Baptist College, and coached the tennis team there.

But in 1971 the ownership bug bit him again and he purchased an interest in the weekly Slaton Slatonite, and moved to Slaton to publish that newspaper.

In 1979 he purchased the weekly Lynn County News at Tahoka and moved there as publisher. For about five years from 1983-88 he also published weekly newspapers at Sudan and Amherst, having re-acquired those papers.

Wood turned over publishing duties of the Lynn County News to twin daughters, Juanell and Vondell, in 1992, and has been semi-retired since with title of publisher emeritus. He still continues to write police beat and other stories and also a weekly column, called “Woodwork,” which has appeared in the newspapers he has owned since 1971.

Golden 50 — 2007

2007 Award Winners

Announced June 22, 2007, at the 128th Summer Convention in San Antonio

Joseph Benham
Frankie Lynn Brisendine

Beverly Daughtry

Joseph Benham

Joseph Benham was born in the last century in Amarillo, and is a fourth generation Texan. His mother ’s family was in Texas at least as far back as 1846.

Benham married Verna Heaton Benham from the Black Hills of South Dakota and they were wed 39-plus years.

“We met and were married in South America, where our children were born. Stephanie and her husband are in the corporate world in suburban Houston; Navy Lt. David is stationed at Pacific Fleet HQ in Hawaii and his wife is completing a PhD in psychology, ” Benham said.

His career as a newsman dates to 1950 and news reporting took him all over the world from New York; the United Nations; Santiago, Chile; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“I’ve been shot-at, tear-gassed, jailed and cussed-out by all kinds of people, and I ’ve turned out more words in print and on the air than I could count. And I’m proud of every day of it!” Benham said.

Starting in Amarillo, Benham worked as a sportswriter, deskman and general news reporter for the Amarillo Times from May 1950-December 1951, when the Times and Globe-News merged, and through August 1953 he had the same jobs at the Amarillo Daily News, Amarillo Globe-Times and Amarillo Globe-News.

He worked at the Dallas Times Herald as a sportswriter and deskman from August 1953-May 1954, and as a sportswriter, news editor and reporter for the Associated Press in Dallas and Austin from May 1954 to August 1955 when he went into the Army.

“The Army discovered in September 1956 that I had newspaper experience and moved me from Infantry platoon sergeant to Air Defense Command public information supervisor, ” he said.

Benham retired on disability as a sergeant and was sent to the Kerrville VA Hospital for treatment.

He then came back to the AP in Austin in January 1959 and held the same jobs as before until May 1960, when he was made a San Antonio correspondent — covering everything from sports to storms to President Eisenhower’s visit to Mexico, as well as calling on AP member papers and broadcast outlets.

The AP moved him to New York in May 1962 as a general news desk editor, where he continued writing book reviews, which he began writing in Texas. He then went to the world desk in 1963, the United Nations Bureau in 1964, and Santiago, Chile, in January 1965 as bureau chief for Chile and Bolivia.

Major stories he covered included earthquakes, the rise of Marxism that led to Salvador Allende ’s becoming Chile’s president and the hunt for Che Guevara in Bolivia.

“I missed Che’s capture and execution. I was back in Santiago marrying Verna. I tell people that Che and I got zapped the same weekend — he got killed and I got married!” Benham said.

Benham also did part-time work for NBC Radio News while in Chile.

U.S. News & World Report hired him in October 1967 and he spent the next 13 1/2 years covering South America, based in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Major stories he covered included the return to power of Juan Peron, election and subsequent downfall of Allende, the rise of Marxist and Peronist terrorism (including a bomb that took out six windows in his apartment) and the surge of economic nationalism that saw billions of dollars in U.S. investments nationalized in Chile, Peru, Venezuela, etc.

“I was in Buenos Aires when I was invited to NY to receive the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for Distinguished Foreign Correspondence, awarded by the president of Columbia University at a special convocation, ” he said. “I still have the Tiffany-made medal and a picture of myself in cap-and-gown looking, according to some irreverent friends, like Henry VIII. The award is given for a body of work, not a specific story or series. ”

Benham came back to the States in July 1980 based in Houston as regional bureau chief for U.S. News, covering Southwestern states with occasional trips back to Latin America, until experiencing “corporate restructuring” after the sale of U.S. News.

“I had been writing about downsizing, layoffs, etc., as a result of corporate restructuring, and I found writing about it much more fun than experiencing it, ” he said.

“I free-lanced for most of the 1990s, writing articles for newspapers and trade journals and writing and editing a series of publications for the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington. I was news editor and commentator for a news service serving cable TV systems in suburban Houston and columnist for two chains of weeklies in suburban Houston. ”

Since moving to the Hill Country in 1998, Benham has been writing editorial page columns and features for the Kerrville Daily Times and serving as volunteer publicist for a half-dozen non-profits in the area.

He has served as director of the Foreign Press Association of Argentina and Press Club of San Antonio.

His journalism awards include the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for “Distinguished Foreign Correspondence,” writing awards from The Associated Press Managing Editors and regional press organizations.

His service outside journalism includes president, American Community in Argentina; trustee, Lincoln Schools; president, South Woodland Hills Community Assn., Kingwood; vice chairman, Kingwood Volunteer Fire Dept; secretary and director, Harris County Utility District; secretary, Kingwood Public Safety Committee; secretary, Humble Independent School District Student Wellness Board; secretary, Kingwood High School Management Committee; trustee and secretary of the board, Kingwood United Methodist Church; former director, Kingwood Services Assn. and Hill Country Youth Orchestra.

He also has been a lay minister, Methodist and Scots churches; president, Symphony of the Hills Assn., Kerrville; president, Hill Country Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution; past president, Friends of the Kerrville Library; chairman, various committees of the Kerrville Rotary Club; member, Steering Committee of the Kerr County 105th Birthday Observance; member Citizens Committee on Tax Freeze for Kerrville; member citizens committee, Kerrville ISD bond elections.

His civic awards include Citizen of the Year from the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce, Admiral in the Texas Navy and Honorary Colonel on the Staff of the Governor of Texas, honorary firefighter, honorary constable and a Distinguished Service Award from the Kiwanis Club of Kingwood.

Frankie Lynn Brisendine

Lynn Brisendine, publisher of The Brownfield News and Seminole Sentinel, recently celebrated 50 years in the newspaper business.

Brisendine, 60, is a past president of Texas Press Association (2000-01), West Texas Press Association (1985) and Panhandle Press Association (1979).

Born in Amarillo, he grew up in Hereford, graduating from Hereford High School in 1965. He was a longtime newspaper carrier, throwing a Hereford Brand route from 1957 to 1965. He also serviced an Amarillo Globe-News route for four years and was awarded a Master Carrier certificate during those years.

After high school he began his career at the Hereford Brand where he took a job as an apprentice printer. Pouring pigs, sweeping the floor and killing out pages turned into a job as a back shop floorman and eventually a Linotype operator.

In 1969 he began as an advertising salesman at the Brand. In 1971 he took over as the advertising manager of the Lamesa Press Reporter. Two years later he returned to Hereford and served as the advertising manager until he moved to Brownfield, purchased stock in and took over the Brownfield News as publisher and president on April Fool’s Day 1977.

Brisendine is the secretary of the board of South Plains Printing in Lamesa. He has been an associate of the Roberts Publishing group for more than 30 years.

Brisendine has been a member of Lions International for 38 years where he has been on the board of directors and served as an officer in three clubs, Hereford, Lamesa and Brownfield. He was president of the Brownfield club in 1985. He also has been a Mason for almost 40 years.

He has served on the boards of and been president of the Brownfield Development Foundation and the Brownfield Industrial Development Corporation. He also is a past director of BID Corp. and former chairman of the board for Kendrick Memorial Library in Brownfield.

He has served on the board of the Terry County United Way. He served on the formation committee and later the board of the DFYIT (Drug Free Youth in Texas) organization in Brownfield.

Brisendine was Terry County’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year in 1991.

The Brownfield News is a semiweekly publication with a circulation of 3,000. The paper has won numerous awards during Brisendine ’s 30-year tenure, including nine consecutive Texas State Teacher Association School Bell awards. He also has won several awards for his Paper ‘n Ink column he pens twice weekly.

The Seminole Sentinel also is a semiweekly publication with a circulation of 2,000. Both newspapers are completely paginated operations.

Brisendine is married to Linda, who has worked 28 years for the Texas Department of Human Services as a social worker with the aged and disabled. On press nights, she proofreads for the papers.

They have three children and by the end of 2007 will have nine grandchildren.

Becky Stephens, who is married to Brian Stephens, is a Texas Tech University graduate and works for Incode software company in Lubbock. The couple have a 5-year-old daughter, Hayleigh, and are expecting triplets in September.

Barbie Taylor, also a TTU graduate, is married to Alan Taylor, and works at Frontrange Solutions in Colorado Springs, Colo. The couple have a 3-year-old son, Logan, and a newborn son, Landon.

Brian Brisendine, a graduate of West Texas A&M University, is publisher of the Hereford Brand and president of sister company North Plains Printing. Brian is on the boards of West Texas and Texas press associations and is immediate past president and chairman of the board of Panhandle Press Association. He and his wife, Susan, have two sons, Thomas, 3, and Blake, 1, and the couple is expecting their third child in September.

Brisendine enjoys playing with his grandchildren, working on his backyard ponds, traveling, golf, reading and watching the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros.

Beverly Daughtry

Beverly Daughtry is publisher of the Elgin Courier, where she started working there at age 16 in 1957 as a typesetter. She has been managing the paper since 1967.

She graduated from Elgin High School in 1960.

Beverly’s entire newspaper career has been at the Elgin Courier, which has been in business since 1890.

While in high school, she worked after class for the Elgin Courier doing newspaper and commercial ad layout. She was hired to insert newspapers, but was soon tasked with setting type and laying out advertising, a skill that was largely self-taught.

After graduation, she started full-time, working for publisher Bob Bredlow setting type and laying out the commercial grocery ads and newspaper ads. Working for and through a succession of owners and publishers, Beverly learned from each one, while continuing to upgrade the quality of the newspaper.

After Bredlow came Bob Barton, then Bob Mosier, then ownership returned to Barton, who sold the Courier to Charlie Schulz, who, ultimately, sold it to Granite Publishing in 1994.

Throughout the years, Beverly has held various offices with many organizations, including the Elgin Chamber of Commerce, Envision Elgin, Cattlemen For Cancer Research, and the Elgin Education Foundation.

At the present time, she serves as a member on the Envision Elgin Board of Directors, the M.D. Anderson Cattlemen for Cancer Research Board ’s Advisory Committee, the Elgin Independent School District’s Education Foundation of Directors, the Elgin Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Board and its Board of directors, and, most recently, was named a director of Elgin ’s new Frontier Bank of Texas (proposed).  She also is one of the bank’s organizers.

In 2001 she was named Elgin’s Most Worthy Citizen, and she continues to work hard every day at managing the same paper that she has worked at for five decades.

Beverly is married to Ken Daughtry, a Realtor and former mayor and school board president of Elgin.

She has two daughters and sons-in-law, Kim and Ray Lerche, and Tammy and Scott Martin. She also has a stepdaughter and stepson-in-law, Shannon and Tommy Lollar, and a stepson and stepdaughter-in-law, Damon and Terri Daughtry.

She has six grandchildren, Katelyn Lollar, Ashton Lollar, Ty Lerche, Lane Lerche, Will Martin and Jenna Martin.

 

Golden 50 — 2008

2008 award recipients
announced June 20, 2008 at 129th Summer Convention in Arlington 

Barbara Craig Kelly
Roy McQueen

Barbara Craig Kelly

Barbara Craig Kelly began her newspaper career in 1958 as a stringer for the Abilene Reporter-News and continues to serve today as the historian for the West Texas Press Association (WTPA). She spent 21 years of her newspaper career alongside her late husband Bob Craig at the Hamlin Herald.

Born in Shackelford County, she graduated from Albany High School in 1946. She earned an associate degree from Weatherford Junior College in 1948. She married Bob Craig in Albany in 1950. At that time, Bob, 19, was night foreman of the composing room of the Abilene Reporter-News.

While the couple lived in Stamford, Kelly began stringing for the Abilene Reporter-News. The Craigs purchased an interest in the Hamlin Herald, along with his father, Roy Craig, publisher of the Stamford American, and moved there in 1960. At the Herald, Kelly served as society editor, front office manager and bookkeeper. She was active in many civic affairs including volunteering at the local rest home along with raising the Craig’s three children.

In the late 1960’s, Bob was elected secretary-treasurer of WTPA. It was often said that WTPA got a two-for-one deal with the couple working together behind the scenes and at the association conventions. Kelly once said that the couple took the office at WTPA to help put their children through college.

Many of the accounting practices she used at the Herald and for WTPA were based on her experience at her first job in the office of F. W Woolworth Co.

Following the death of her husband in 1981, she took on even more responsibilities at the Herald and was named secretary-treasurer of WTPA.

She married Dewane (D.W.) Kelly in 1984 and moved to Abilene. She continued to keep books for the Herald and continued her active role in WTPA. At the July 2005, WTPA convention Kelly stepped down as secretary-treasurer and was named historian of the association. In recognizing her 25 years of service to the association as secretary-treasurer (not including the time served with her late husband), WTPA president Roy Robinson addressed the crowd. He noted that Kelly has been “the keeper of the keys to the heart and soul of the West Texas Press Association for more than 25 years.”

“She has trained more officers and directors than most of us in the room can remember,” Robinson added, “and has made a generation of presidents look good.”

Kelly was awarded the Harold Hudson Memorial Award, WTPA’s highest honor, in 1997, and the Dewane Kelly Award, named for her late second husband, who was always one step ahead of the needs of the organization, in 2002.

She missed her first WTPA convention in 47 years last year when she was on an Alaskan cruise with her daughter, Beth Speak. She plans on restarting her perfect attendance record this summer when WTPA meets in Fredericksburg.

Kelly remains active today with swim aerobics, MacUser Group, Abilene chapter of Hearing Loss of America Association (HLAA), Garden Club, and volunteering in many roles at her church, Presbyterian Medical Care Mission, and helping her many friends with computer problems.

Kelly has three children, Beth Speak of Minnetonka, Minn.; Dr. Darrell Craig of Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Rick Craig of Granbury. She is the proud grandmother of three.

Roy McQueen

Roy McQueen’s dad may be responsible for getting him in the newspaper business. His father, a derrick hand on a pulling unit, objected to McQueen getting a summer job in the oilfields, so McQueen started looking around town.

In 1958, between his seventh- and eighth-grade years, McQueen walked into the Andrews County News “hoping to make $5 a week for spending money.”

He was told they needed someone to shag Little League and Pony League books and write up the games. They offered to pay him 10 cents an inch and McQueen figured he would own the Andrews County News by summer’s end. But tight editing and a short ruler used by the bookkeeper kept that from happening.

After school started he began to write sports, chase wrecks and fire trucks and also pitched in to get the paper out, often setting headlines by hand. Often it was an all-night affair and James Roberts knew nothing about child labor laws.

The news editor resigned and James Roberts said “we would handle it until we found someone.” That never happened and during high school McQueen covered school board, city council, police beat, etc. — all under the watchful eye of James Roberts.

McQueen attended his freshman year at North Texas State University, but soon ran out of money and came home to work at the Andrews County News and attend Odessa College his sophomore year.

McQueen then went off to Texas Tech, working for Speedy Nieman at the Slaton Slatonite. Larry Crabtree, a high school classmate, was a competitor at the radio station in Slaton. Another AHS classmate, Jerry Tidwell, is publisher of the Hood County News.

McQueen then got on at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, working nights in the sports department. He also was managing editor of the University Daily at Tech and then taught a reporting and editing lab for beginning journalism students.

He married Bettie Harmon in 1966 while attending Tech and they both graduated in 1968. James Roberts was starting his publishing company and had acquired Lamesa, Brown field and Seminole.

McQueen was named publisher of the weekly Seminole Sentinel in May of 1968, but that tenure was cut short by a draft notice that arrived on his wedding anniversary on Aug. 20.

After basic training at Fort Bliss, McQueen was assigned to the public information office. When the civilian editor was promoted out of state, the private first class was named editor of the Fort Bliss Monitor. Larry Crabtree soon joined that office.

With nine months duty remaining, McQueen was sent to Sehweinfurt, Germany where he again was assigned to the public information office. The McQuecn’s only son, Marc, was born in Germany.

After returning to West Texas, James Roberts asked if McQueen wanted to return to Seminole or move to Granbury where Roberts had purchased the Hood County News. Being a West Texan and seeing little future in the sleepy town of Granbury, McQueen chose Seminole where he remained publisher until 1976 when Roberts and Associates purchased the Snyder Daily News.

McQueen has been president of the corporation and publisher of the six-day daily since Oct 1, 1976. In addition, he has been active in the community serving as president of the Economic Development Committee, Industrial Foundation and Development Corporation of Snyder. He also served on the Cogdell Hospital board and the Snyder school board.

McQueen also serves on the board of directors of the Vernon Daily Record, Andrews County News, Brownfield News, Seminole Sentinel, Azle News. Hereford Brand, Burkburnett Informer-Star, North Plains Printing and South Plains Printing.

His wife, Bettie, is retired vice president of Western Texas College in Snyder. Son, Marc, is a graduate of Texas A&M University and earned a master ‘s degree in marriage and family therapy from Abilene Christian University. He currently is clinical director for the Center for Children and Families in Midland. Marc and wife, Leah, have given the McQueens two nifty grandsons, Nate and Graden, referred to as Nater and Tater by their granddad.

McQueen is a past president of the West Texas Press Association and Texas Press Association (1989-90) and is a past board member of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association. He was named a Distinguished Mass Communications graduate of Texas Tech in 1993.

McQueen may actually have more than 50 years in the business if you count selling the Andrews County News on the streets for 10 cents each Friday. He started out with 20 customers, making $1 a week and bought his first baseball glove on time, recalling that was a long six weeks. He later had delivery routes for the Odessa American and the San Angelo Standard Times while in junior high and high school.