Nick West, longtime publisher of the Palacios Beacon, died July 27. He was 61. Born on Dec. 14, 1952, in Rushville, Indiana, West was a career newspaperman. One of his proudest chapters in life was working at the Beacon with his father, Bert, and son, Ryan.A member of the U.S. Marine Corps and a transplant to Palacios, West took over publisher and editor duties at the Beacon on July 4, 1981. Under his management, he transformed the Beacon into one of the premier small-town newspapers in the state, winning multiple awards from Texas Press Association, South Texas Press Association and Texas Gulf Coast Press Association. West had served as the intern chairman for South Texas Press Association. The internship program has been renamed the Nick West Internship in his honor.
Veteran newsman Bobby Glen "Bob" Runyon, 62, of Omaha, Texas, died July 15, in a Mount Pleasant hospital.Runyon was born Dec. 26, 1951, in Gainesville. He was editor of the Gladewater Mirror for many years, a Promise Keeper, a member of the Associated Press, Lions Club, David Elliott Masonic Lodge and Concord Missionary Baptist Church, Omaha, and was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.Survivors include his wife, Saundra Runyon of Omaha; son and daughter-in-law, Bryan and Melissa Runyon of Omaha; daughter, Samantha Gray of Omaha; father and stepmother, Kenneth and Mildred Runyon of Plano; brothers, Michael Runyon of Vilseck, Germany, and David Runyon of North Carolina; sisters, Debbie Fellwock of Plano and Delores Anderson of Canton; and a number of other relatives.
Palestine native and longtime journalist LaDeanne Jeffcoat Smith died July 31 at the age of 77.
Smith graduated from Palestine High School in 1955 before going on to attend Sam Houston State Teachers College, where she majored in journalism. After marrying Charles "Donnie" Smith in 1957, Smith began her journalism career as the women's editor at the Palestine Herald-Press. In 1977, Smith became the community editor for the Herald-Press. In 1979, Smith took the job as editor of the Houston County Courier in Crockett, where she attended city council and school board meetings, covered elections and more. After a two-year stint in Germany with her family, from 1981-1983, Smith returned to Palestine and worked for Memorial Hospital before returning to the Herald-Press. In 1991, she returned to the Houston County Courier as news editor, with husband Donnie working in advertising sales. She retired as the managing editor in 2001, and once again, returned to Palestine, where she wrote her "Senior Moments" column in the Herald-Press as a freelance writer. Smith's love for the community went beyond the black-and-white newsprint that her name adorned. She was involved in several organizations, including the Noon Business and Professional Women's Club, the Pilot Club in Crockett and United Methodist Women at Westwood Methodist Church. She also was a reporter for the Anderson County Historical Commission and a Montalba Red Hatter. Smith is survived by her husband of more than 56 years, Donnie; daughter, Sherrill Funderburg; and son, Carl Smith.
Barbara Funkhouser, the first and only woman to serve as editor of the El Paso Times, died Aug. 15 at her home in Fairacres, New Mexico. She was 84.
Funkhouser is the only female editor in the newspaper's 133-year history, having served in that capacity from 1980 to 1986. She began her career in 1958 as a free-lancer for a year, then worked for a Las Cruces newspaper for a year before being hired at the El Paso Times. She also wrote the coffee-table book, "The Caregivers: El Paso's Medical History, 1898-1998." Funkhouser was born March 1, 1930, at Hotel Dieu hospital in El Paso and was raised on a farm in Fairacres, near Las Cruces, that her parents owned since 1924. Her father died she she was six, and her mother ran the farm with help of hired labor. She graduated from Las Cruces Union High School and from New Mexico State University in 1952. She spent six months in Europe on a 4-H Club exchange program and then worked for five years for the 4-H organization in Washington, D.C., and in Chicago, before returning to New Mexico and beginning her career as a journalist. During her 30-year career at the Times, Funkhouser interviewed many notable people, including singer-artist Vikki Carr, baseball player Kurt Russell and actor James Stewart. Funkhouser retired from the El Paso Times on June 1, 1990. She taught at New Mexico State University and was a part-time editorial writer for the Las Cruces Sun-News for several years. She continued running her vineyard, on her family farm until her death.