TPA's '76-77 president Chatmas dies

Texas Press Messenger

Monday, 15 January 2007

J.C. Chatmas Jr., 90, who served as Texas Press Association president in 1976-77, died Jan. 6, 2007, when the battery in his pacemaker failed.

Chatmas, a native of Marlin, was born June 9, 1916, to Mr. and Mrs. James C. Chatmas Sr., who owned and operated three theatres in Marlin. Chatmas married Maxine Whitten on Aug. 28, 1941.

Chatmas graduated from Texas A&M University in 1937. In December 1940, he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps as a flying cadet. While serving in the military during World War II, he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was a pilot train

ing instructor, and for the last three years of his WWII military service, he was a staff officer in Headquarters U.S. Air Training Command, Fort Worth. He graduated from the Command and General Staff School in 1944.

Chatmas gained a commendation from General Chiang Kai-shek and a pilot’s commission in the Chinese Air Force for his successful training of Chinese pilots and preparing them for combat in the Chinese Air Force. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean conflict and served in Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Chatmas entered the newspaper world only 11 years before becoming Texas Press Association’s 99th president.

He began as publisher of the Marlin Daily Democrat in 1965 following the death of his friend, publisher Hy Fortinberry.

Chatmas was publisher and part owner of the Democrat for nearly 20 years until he retired in 1981. He was known in the Central Texas area for his “Dateline Marlin” column and his “Thoughts While Shaving” comments.

He received the 1974 Mark Francis Award for Journalistic Excellence from the Texas Veterinary Medical Association for the Democrat’s reporting of that year’s cattle anthrax outbreak in Falls County.

He served as a director of Texas Daily Newspaper Association.

He was chosen to be an elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Marlin; was honored as “Outstanding Citizen” in 1980 and in 1995 was named recipient of the “William Parrish - Hazel Falconer Goddard Service Award” by the Marlin Chamber of Commerce; was elected president of the Marlin Chamber of Commerce, the Marlin Industrial Foundation and the Allen House Board; was named to the governor’s 100 Committee by Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby; was commissioned a “Texas Colonel” by Gov. John Connally; was commissioned by Gov. Dolph Briscoe to be an “Admiral in the Texas Navy”; was awarded the “Public Media” plaque by the Soil Conservation District of Texas; was a governor’s appointee to the Board of Directors of the Brazos River Authority; and was elected to the First Texas Silver Haired Legislature to represent Falls, Limestone and Freestone Counties.

He was a member of The Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi; Marlin Rotary Club from 1938 to 1982; the Real County deer hunting group; and the “Interruption Society.” He was an avid golfer until age 84, and at the age of 88, he volunteered to serve as a Marlin City Council member to fill an unexpired term.

J.C.Chatmas, Jr., is survived by his wife, Maxine; his three children, Connie McLelland and husband, Bill of Waco, Dr. Robert W. Chatmas and wife, Judy, of Carbondale, Colo., Dr. Jay C. Chatmas III and wife, Carmen, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine; six grandchildren; a great granddaughter, Chloe; and a sister, Evangeline “Sis” Gilley of Houston.