2011 Texas Press obituaries

Deaths reported by the Texas Press Messenger in 2011.

JANUARY

Joseph W. Samuels
1915 - 2011
Joseph W. Samuels , 95, died January 19, 2011. He was owner and publisher of the 103-year-old Jewish Herald-Voice. 
Samuels was born in Dallas on Dec. 10, 1915 to Morris and Tillie Samuels and was the eldest of three siblings. His father died when he was young, and Samuels was raised in the Jewish Children's Home in New Orleans.
After graduating in the top 10 percent of his class from the Newman School at 18, Samuels moved to Houston and went to work for the Post Office, selling typewriters and hosting a radio program on KTRH simultaneously.
At night, Samuels pursued a degree in communications at the University of Houston, where he met his wife, Jeanne Franklin. The couple married in 1943.
Samuels enlisted in the Air Force in 1942 and served during World War II in Italy and Southwest Africa. When he returned home in 1946, Samuels remained in the reserves and completed his undergraduate degree at UH. He retired as a lieutenant colonel.
Samuels and his wife bought the Jewish Herald-Voice in 1973, a few years before his retirement, becoming the third owners of the now 103-year-old newspaper.
Jeanne said that she and her husband bought the periodical because printing a Jewish newspaper had been an interest of Samuel's father, who had worked as a printer. Samuels wanted to realize that dream.
Samuels was also a devoted supporter of the Holocaust Museum Houston since purchasing the newspaper, said Michael S. Goldberg, the museum's chairman of the board.

Eva Swinson 
1923-2011
Eva Maurine Swinson of Mineral Wells died Jan. 23, 2011. She worked at the Mineral Wells Index for many years, and most recently, volunteered at a food bank in North Richland Hills.
Swinson was born March 22, 1930, to Rufus and Clara Smith Spurgers in El Dorado. She was the proud mother of three beloved daughters: Sueanne Jones, Marianne McMinn and Lynanne Wilbanks. 
Swinson lived life to its fullest. She enjoyed music, especially that of her husband Johnny Lee Swinson, who preceded her in death on Jan. 8, 1994. She loved spending time with her family, reading books, playing cards, working crossword puzzles, and most of all, watching the Dallas Cowboys. Her grandchildren and their spouses were the light of her eye.

FEBRUARY 2011

Millard Crounse 
1925-2011
Millard Verdon Crounse of Mineral Wells died Feb. 12, 2011. Crounse worked as a distributor for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and for the Mineral Wells Index for 42 years. He also served in the U.S. Navy on the USS R.K. Huntington during World War II. 
Crounse was born in Perrin on Oct. 12, 1925. He was an avid hunter and fisherman and loved to garden. 
Survivors are wife of 66 years, Oneita Purefoy Crounse; daughters Peggy Boyanton and husband Mike, and Oliece Fagan; sons Lamar Crounse and wife Margie, and Al Crounse. 
Crounse was also very loved by his 14 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by parents, a brother and sister, daughter Becky Miller, and grandson Monty Crounse.

Sam Kinch Jr.
1940-2011
Sam Kinch Jr., 70, died Feb. 1, 2011. Kinch was a retired political reporter and writer who had worked for several Texas newspapers. He covered national politics for The National Observer, the Dallas Times-Herald and The Dallas Morning News from 1964-1970. He was the chief state political writer for The News bureau in Austin for 15 years. In 1984, Kinch co-founded Texas Weekly. He sold his interest in 1998. 
Kinch was born in Fort Worth in February 1940 and was raised in Austin. He received a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in journalism and history from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Ken Brodnax
1948-2011
Odessa American columnist and editorial page editor Ken Brodnax, 62, died Feb. 24, 2011 at Lighthouse Hospice in Round Rock after a battle with liver cancer. 
He received his degree in journalism from West Texas State University in Canyon in 1971. 
Nax, as he was known to friends and readers, had been with the Odessa American since July 12, 1971. During that time he was a sports writer, columnist and editorial page editor.
At least those were his titles here at the OA. None do justice to what he meant to the OA and the many, many faces that have come through the newsroom.
OA publisher Patrick Canty pointed out that there is no way to replace someone like Nax. “…Every town has a character who defines the town. Ken Brodnax not only defined Odessa but West Texas.”
Canty also pointed out how dedicated Nax was to his work. “As sick as he was he kept coming in to the office. It showed how much his craft meant to him.”

APRIL 2011

Peggie Spencer Mazziotta
1928-2011
Peggie Spencer Mazziotta, one of the first women  to work as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Times Herald and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, died April 25, 2011, in Dallas, the News reported. She was 83. 
Mazziotta was born in Fort Worth, where she graduated from Polytechnic High School. She attended North Texas State Teachers College, now the University of North Texas, and started working as a copy clerk at the Star-Telegram. She wanted to be a reporter but became interested in photography. 
She was offered a full-time photo job at the Star-Telegram but chose to study photography at the Art Center in Los Angeles.
She returned to the Star-Telegram but was soon offered a job at the Louisville Courier Journal, where she won thrid place in the National Press Photographers Association competition for her photo of a soldier embracing his wife before leaving for Army duty. 
She later returned to the Star-Telegram, where she married John Mazziotta, a fellow Star-Telegram photographer. 
In 1952 the couple left the Star-Telegram to join the Dallas Morning News as staff photographers. 
In 1960 the Mazziottas joined the Times Herald, where her husband was chief photographer. He died in 1989. 
Mazziotta has also worked as a freelancer for such clients as Neiman Marcus and the State Fair of Texas. 

MAY 2011

Christopher Jim Bradford
1947-2011
Christopher Jim Bradford, former owner of the Castro County News, the Olton Enterprise and the Muleshoe Journal, died May 4, 2011, in San Angelo. He was 63. 
Bradford was born May 27, 1947, in Jacksonville to Odell and Phyllis (Lamden) Bradford.
He married Joye Bradford on June 10, 2000, in Brownwood. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.
Bradford worked in the newspaper business most of his life (1959-2007), beginning as a street hawker in Midland in 1959. He retired in 2007 after running three weekly newspapers with his wife.

Edward H. Harte
1923-2011
Edward H. Harte, former owner of Harte-Hanks Newspapers, died May 18 in Portland, Maine, the San Antonio Express-News reported. He was 88. 
The family-owned Harte-Hanks Newspapers dominated the media market in Texas for many years until it bowed out of the newspaper business in the 1990s.
Born in Pilot Grove, Mo., and raised in San Angelo, Harte came from a family steeped in journalism. His great grandfather was a Washington correspondent for the New York Tribune. His father, Houston, worked as a reporter as a young man and bought the San Angelo Standard-Times in 1920. 
Harte’s first job was working as a switchboard operator at the San Angelo paper. He rose through the ranks and later became publisher of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. He retired in 1987.

JUNE 2011

Jim Brazzil
1915-2011
Jim Brazzil loved writing, newspapers, Highlands and life. Brazzil, 95, passed away June 28, 2011, leaving a legacy of friends, family and community service that influenced many lives and careers.
Brazzil co-founded the Highlands Star with his brother-in-law, Alton Neatherlin. Attracted to Highlands by the charm of the small town and the need for a newspaper, they served the community for 20 years beginning in 1955 until Brazzil retired and Neatherlin continued the paper, which is now the Star-Courier under present owner Gilbert Hoffman.
During his tenure the Star-Courier won 35 awards of excellence from TPA. Brazzil wrote three books after his retirement about his early life in Coryell County and his years as a newspaperman.
In 2007 he was honored by the community with the Terry Davis Award for Outstanding Community Service.
Brazzil was known for his kindness and concern for others, and indeed, even after many years he continued to express interest and praise on the present day Star-Courier.

JULY 2011
Joe Strauss
1924 — 2011
Joe Strauss, 87, died July 18, 2011, at his his home in Shiner. Strauss was a former publisher of The Shiner Gazette and was known by many throughout central Texas after spending over 50 years as a salesman calling on newspaper and print shops for divisions of the International Paper Company.
Strauss and his wife, Gladys, purchased The Shiner Gazette in 1975 and published the paper until 1990, when they sold it to Tex Rogers. They were active members of the Texas Press Association and the South Texas Press Association.
In later years, Strauss and his wife sponsored the hospitality suite for South Texas Press Association’s annual conventions, calling the suite the “Strauss Haus.”
Strauss was born and raised on a farm in Shiner. He graduated from St. Ludmila’s Academy in 1941 and enrolled in a government school (NYA) at Inks Dam, taking courses in commercial printing. 
He briefly went to work for the Victoria Advocate before joining the Army Air Force during World War II, where he was stationed in the U.S. and Italy until late 1945.
Shortly after returning from WWII, he went to work for Lee and Angeline Sedlmeyer at The Shiner Gazette before taking a position as territory sales representative for the Houston branch of EC Palmer Paper Company. He spent the next 51 years selling paper, graphic supplies and equipment to print shops throughout south central Texas.
Strauss and his wife were married in Hallettsville in 1953. They made their home in Schulenburg before moving to Shiner in 1957. They raised four children: Marian, Bobby, Pat and Mark. 

Mark Howell
1955 — 2011
Mark Howell, 55, died July 30, 2011, in Wichita Falls. Howell wrote a weekly outdoors column for the Times Record News in Wichita Falls for the past four years. He was also one of the first community volunteers to serve on the Times Record News editorial board.
Howell was born in Würzburg, Germany, but grew up in rural Kansas. He received a bachelor’s degree in fisheries biology and wildlife biology from Kansas State University in 1984 and a master’s degree in fisheries biology from Murray State University in Kentucky in 1988.
In 1990 Howell joined the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Huntsville and after 18 months transferred to Wichita Falls as the first supervisor of the newly-formed Inland Fisheries District for an eight-county region. He served the people of Northwest Texas for 20 years in that capacity.
A well-known outdoorsman, naturalist and conservationalist, Howell was active in the community in many outdoors issues. He and his wife of 23 years, Nancy, have two sons: Andrew, 9, and Benjamin, 8.

Tommy Miller
1945 — 2011
Thomas C. Miller, 66, died July 30, 2011, at his home in Beaumont of complications from a form of degenerative dementia. Miller was a veteran journalist, teacher and former managing editor of the Houston Chronicle. He also contributed to several editions of “Law and the Media in Texas,” sponsored by the Texas Press Association, the Texas Association of Broadcasters and the Texas Daily Newspaper Association. 
Miller spent more than two decades with the Chronicle while teaching a stint at the University of Mississippi. He left the Chronicle in 2003 to assume the Roger Tatarian Chair in Journalism at Fresno State University, where he taught until his illness forced him to retire. 

AUGUST 2011 

Jeff West
1954-2011
Jeff West, 56,  a longtime Snyder Daily News staff writer, died Aug. 4, 2011, at the Cogdell Memorial Hospital in Snyder of congestive heart failure.
Jeff, who had been airlifted to Lubbock Heart Hospital three times since May, suffering from congestive heart failure, was en route back to Snyder after a doctor’s appointment in Lubbock earlier in the afternoon.
A native of Amarillo, Jeff began working at the Snyder Daily News on March 29, 2004. He had worked at several other newspapers and radio stations before beginning his job in Snyder.
“Jeff was a true reporter, always looking for answers. He will be missed by his coworkers and this community,” said Daily News Publisher Bill Crist.
“He cared about the people he worked with and the people he covered and photographed. He always ended his weekly column by encouraging us to ‘be good to one another.’” 
Jeff was a veteran of the U.S. Army.
He was preceded in death by his father, Don West. Survivors include his mother, Jean West; one sister, Deborah Jean Pringle and her husband, Robert; two nephews, Casey Pringle and Corey Pringle; two nieces, Cindy Pringle and Jackie Corrillo; and eight great-nieces and a nephew.

Bob Freer
1948 — 2011
Bob Freer, 63, died Aug. 15, 2011, at his home in Dripping Springs after an almost three-year long battle with colon cancer. Bob was a former publisher of the Cedar Park Citizen, Leander Ledger and North Lake Travis LOG newspapers. 
Bob was born Feb. 8, 1948, in Montpelier, Vt., and grew up in Schnecectady, N.Y., and Southern California. He graduated from Buena Park High School in 1966 and later received degrees in English and journalism with a secondary teaching credential from California State University in Long Beach.
At the time of his death he was group publisher of Austin Community Newspapers Northwest. He was an avid animal lover, volunteering time as a member of the Humane Society of Williamson County. He was also on the board of the Williamson County chapter of the United Way and the Parent Board at Texas Tech University.
Bob is loved and missed by his wife of 25 years, Kim, their daughter Kyndall and many other family members and close friends.
“I really don’t know too many people who didn’t like Bob,” Kim told the Cedar Park Citizen. “This person would have given you the shirt off his back if you needed it.”

Rita Gallagher Smith
1918-2011
Rita Gallagher Smith, 93, of Wylie, former publisher of The Wylie News, died Aug. 17, 2011, in Plano.
Rita was born July 20, 1918. She is a descendant of one of the first Wylie settlers, James Gallagher, and lived in Wylie her entire life. 
She graduated from Ursuline Academy in Dallas in 1935 and was honored by the school as a Distinguished Alumna in 2003. 
Rita started working for her father, Claude, at the C.M. Gallagher Dry Goods Store in the 1930s. 
In 1938 she began her career in insurance, writing policies for the Wylie Insurance Agency, then in its infancy. The firm kept her busy and brought her success until she sold it in 1983.
In 1949 Rita married Truett Smith, local banker and publisher of The Wylie News, and they began their partnership in banking, insurance and newspaper publishing. The three businesses they owned still operate today and owe their continued longevity and success to the couple. Rita was publisher of  the News after Truett’s death in 1992 until it was sold to C&S Media Inc. in 1993.
Rita served as president for several  civic and service organizations and and accomplishmented many ‘firsts’ and ‘onlys’. She was a trendsetter and a role model for women in her time.

NOVEMBER 2011

Harold Hart
1922 — 2011
Harold Hart, one of the Hart brothers who owned the Weatherford Democrat in the 1950s and 1960s, died Nov. 19, 2011. He was 89.
Hart is responsible for introducing modern day printing techniques at the Weatherford Democrat and transforming the former weekly into a daily news source. 
Born in Cooper in 1922, Hart was the only one of three brothers who did not major in journalism. He graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in chemical engineering before serving overseas in the military during World War II.
Hart returned home in 1946, after his brother Wilbur was killed in the war, and became co-owner and publisher of The Coooper Review and The Delta Courier until 1952.
That year, Hart moved to Weatherford with his wife, Janelle, and family, and he and his brother Lyndol purchased the Democrat. Under their management, several big changes took place at the paper. 
The brothers added the Associated Press wire and began publishing as a daily newspaper. A few years later, they bought out their competitor, converted to offset printing and relocated the newspaper office. 
In 1967 Hart and his brother sold the newspaper to the Donrey Media Group.  Hart went on to work in the insurance business and founded his own financial investment business, which he ran until his retirement in 1996. 

Joyce Tomlinson
1926 — 2011
Franklin Joyce Terry Tomlinson, veteran Lampasas Dispatch Record writer and photographer, died Nov. 22, 2011, at Hill Country Memorial Hospital in Fredericksburg. She was 85. 
Born May 12, 1926, in Lampasas County, Tomlinson rode her pony to the one-room Clayrock School. She graduated from Lampasas High School in 1943 and attended Southwestern University in Georgetown. There she met her husband, Earl Eugene Tomlinson, her roommate’s brother, who was serving in the U.S. Navy.
The couple married in 1946 and settled in Houston, where Tomlinson worked in a physician’s office as a receptionist before the birth of their daughter, Cathy Collier, editor of The Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post. 
In 1954 the family moved to Lampasas and Tomlinson accepted employment with Sandia Corp. In 1959 the couple welcomed a son, Mark. 
First in Houston and then in Lampasas, Tomlinson was involved in the Girl Scouts with Cathy, leading a troop and taking them on trips to Yellowstone and the Smoky Mountains.  It was there she earned the nickname “fearless leader,” and she stayed in touch with her troop of girls throughout her life.
Tomlinson also played shortstop on a women’s softball team and, with her husband as coach, traveled throughout the area for games. 
When Cathy graduated from high school, Tomlinson went to work for the Lampasas Dispatch Record during the school year and in the summers worked at Hancock Park pool to help pay for Cathy’s college education. 
Tomlinson became an award-winning feature writer and photographer, earning recognition from the Texas Press Association and from regional newspaper associations.

Oscar Griffin Jr. 
1933 — 2011
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Oscar Griffin Jr. died Nov. 23, 2011, of cancer. He was 78.
Griffin, the city editor at the Pecos Independent and Enterprise in West Texas, was 29 years old when he chronicled how Billie Sol Estes, a one-time associate of then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, borrowed money to build fertilizer tanks that were never constructed.
Estes was convicted of multiple fraud charges by federal and state courts and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. He was released on parole after six years, but was later convicted of other fraud charges and served four more years in prison. 
His prosecution garnered national attention and Griffin was awarded the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished local reporting. 
Born April 28, 1933, in Daisetta, Griffin earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1958 after serving in the military. He left the Pecos newspaper in June 1962 for the Houston Chronicle, where he served as the White House correspondent until 1969. He then accepted a job as assistant director of public affairs for the U.S. Department of Transportation during the Nixon administration. 
Griffin later moved back to Texas and started an oil company. He was working at H&R Block when he died.
Survivors include his wife, Patricia Griffin, of New Waverly, four children and seven grandchildren. 

Melvin Gene Dow
1929 — 2011
Melvin Gene Dow, a longtime West Texas newspaperman, died Nov. 27, 2011. He was 82. 
Journalism was a family tradition for Dow, whose grandfather served as the Lubbock Avalanche - Journal’s first full-time owner/editor and whose father owned the Wink Bulletin. 
Dow was born July 1, 1929, in Lubbock. In 1932 his family moved to Wink, where he graduated high school in 1947. In 1952 he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. 
He then worked as the editor of the family- owned Wink Bulletin for one year before joining the U.S. Army. 
After serving two years in the Korean War, Dow returned home and reassumed his position as Bulletin editor. In 1956 he went to work as news editor of the Monahans News, until he purchased the Van Horn Advocate in 1958. 
In the early 1960s, Dow purchased the Dell Valley Review in Dell City, renamed the Hudspeth County Herald and Dell Valley Review, and served as its editor and publisher before Mary Lynch took over the newspaper in 1965. In 1972 he became the editor, and later publisher, of the nationally distributed General Aviation News. 
He returned to West Texas journalism in 1986 as managing editor of the Colorado City Record and worked as publisher of the Seminole Sentinel from 1989 until his retirement in 2002.

DECEMBER 2011

Douglas Cate
1935 — 2011
Douglas Cate, longtime shop foreman and head pressman for the Mineral Wells Index, died Dec. 5, 2011, in Mineral Wells. He was 76.
Cate was born March 10, 1935, in Roswell, N.M. He moved to San Angelo as an infant, where he grew up in his dad’s paint and body shop. In 1951 his family moved to Mineral Wells, where he worked for Texas Vitrified Pipe and Ed Lee Chevrolet.
Cate also worked for Alproduco until 1956 when he encountered his first flat bed press at the box factory. With printers ink in his blood, he became an employee of Bill Bennett’s print shop before becoming the shop foreman and head pressman at the Mineral Wells Index for 17 years. 
In 1985 he and his wife, Tommie, formed the Mineral Wells Print Center. Health issues forced his retirement in 1992.

Jay Milner
1923 — 2011
“Maddog” Jay Milner died Dec. 11, 2011, at his home in Fort Worth. He was 88. 
A longtime newspaper reporter, author, football coach and journalism professor, Milner was a member of the notorious group of prolific Texas writers in the 1950s and 1960s who called themselves “Maddogs.” The group included Larry L. King, Larry McMurtry, Billy Lee Brammer, Edwin “Bud” Shrake, Dan Jenkins and Gary Cartwright. 
Over the years, Milner has worked for the  Hattiesburg (Miss.) American and the Democrat-Times of Greenville, Miss. He served as assistant to the editorial page editor at the New York Herald. He taught journalism at Texas Christian University and served as the acting chair of the journalism department at Southern Methodist University. He worked as a news anchor for the Fort Worth PBS affiliate and served as the editor of Iconoclast, a Dallas weekly newspaper created as an underground paper in the 1960s. He was the founding editor of the short-lived Texas Music magazine. He also wrote a book review column for The Lufkin Daily News and its parent company at that time, Cox Newspapers, for more than 15 years.
 In 1961 Milner published his first book, “Incident at Ashton,” “a novel about a Southern newspaperman caught between his attachment to his friends and his community and his obligations to the truth in the racially motivated killing of a black man intent on registering to vote,” The Lufkin Daily News reported. 
In 1998 Milner published a memoir of his days as a Texas writer in  the ’60s and ’70s, “Confessions of a Maddog: A Romp through the High-flying Texas Music and Literary Era of the Fifties to the Seventies.”

Randy Preddy
1940 — 2011
Raymond Randall “Randy” Preddy, former Waco Tribune-Herald publisher, died Dec. 17, 2011. He was 71.
Preddy was born in Texarkana, Ark., and grew up in Little Rock, Ark., but often visited Waco, where his grandparents lived. He graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1957 and worked as a cub reporter at the Arkansas Gazette before college. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and then served three years of active duty in the U.S. Navy. 
Preddy started his journalism career in Louisville, Ky., then moved on to the Dayton Daily News in Dayton, Ohio, a Cox Enterprises newspaper. He served in several roles for the Daily News, moving into management as the metro editor, when he was named publisher of the Waco Tribune-Herald, which had recently been purchased by Cox. 
Preddy served as publisher of the Tribune-Herald from 1978 to 1996. In 1993 he published a series of reports on issues in the Branch Davidian cult east of Waco. The series was a finalist for the 1994 Pulitzer Prize.
After leaving the Tribune-Herald, Preddy joined the faculty at Baylor University and continued to teach young journalists for more than a decade.