AUSTIN — Texas Newspaper Foundation announces the selection of Dolph Tillotson, Mike Cochran, John C. Taylor Jr. and Victor B. Fain for induction into the Texas Newspaper Foundation Hall of Fame for the year 2018.
An induction ceremony will be conducted during the Texas Press 2018 Midwinter Conference & Trade Show at Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa & Convention Center in Galveston on Jan. 19.
A selection committee met Nov. 15 and chose the inductees from a field of 13 nominees. Members of the selection committee included Chairwoman Mary Henkel Judson, publisher of The South Jetty, Port Aransas; Russel Skiles, publisher of the Lamesa Press-Reporter; Greg Shrader of Kerrville, former publisher of The Lufkin Daily News; Glenn Rea of Cuero, former publisher, The Cuero Record and the Yorktown News-View; and Randy Keck, publisher of The Community News, Aledo.
The Austin-based Texas Newspaper Foundation created the hall of fame in 2006 to induct up to four individuals annually. Inductees have been credited with outstanding achievements and contributions to the newspaper industry and to their communities. The first four — Roy Eaton, Alfred H. Belo, James Roberts and Staley McBrayer — were inducted into the hall of fame in January 2007.
Dolph Tillotson of Galveston, president of Southern Newspapers Inc., has been in the newspaper business since 1969. He began his career in news and has served as general manager, publisher and president for two community newspaper companies, Southern Newspapers Inc. of Houston and Boone Newspapers Inc. of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
A native of Tuscaloosa and a 1972 graduate of the University of Alabama, Tillotson started his news career as a reporter at The Tuscaloosa News in 1969. He rose through the ranks to serve as publisher of newspapers in Mississippi, Iowa and Texas. He came to work for Southern in 1987 as publisher of The Galveston County Daily News and was named president of SNI in March 2014.
Tillotson is widely recognized as an exemplary newspaper executive and community builder and rebuilder. His efforts in directing The Galveston County Daily News’ coverage of Hurricane Ike stands out among his peers. The devastating 2008 storm took 195 lives and caused an estimated $25 billion in damages, forever disrupting the lives of Galveston residents, businesses and governmental bodies.
With many employees refusing to leave the island during and after the hurricane, Tillotson led an effort described as historic, not only covering the tragedy but offering community leadership and assistance during the recovery.
Over his career, Tillotson has also served another community — the newspaper community — serving as president of the Atlanta-based Southern Newspaper Association and the Texas Daily Newspaper Association. For many years he chaired Texas newspapers’ Legislative Advisory Committee, leading critical battles for open government on behalf of Texas newspapers and the communities they serve.
In 2000, his First Amendment and open government work won him the coveted James Madison Award from the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. In 2016, he received Texas Press Association’s prestigious Frank W. Mayborn Award for Community Leadership.
Roving reporter and author Mike Cochran of Fort Worth spent his career exploring the dizzying heights and murky depths of Texas for The Associated Press to write some of the Lone Star State’s and the nation’s biggest headline-grabbing stories of the last 40 years of the 20th century.
Reports filed by Cochran gave readers close-in, detail-rich views of events in the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the University of Texas Tower shooting, the Apollo 11 moon mission, the T. Cullen Davis murder trial, the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle explosions, political scandals and city-ripping twisters in Tornado Alley.
Oddly and notably, while covering the funeral of Lee Harvey Oswald in Fort Worth, Cochran was one of six reporters recruited as pallbearers for the friendless man accused of assassinating the president.
Cochran also wrote books based on his reportage. Among them are such titles as: Texas vs. Davis: The Only Complete Account of the Bizarre Thomas Cullen Davis Murder Case; Deliver Us From Evil: A Trilogy of Murder, Ministers and Millionaires (with fellow AP writer John Lumpkin); and a biography of Midland oilman and former gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams — Claytie: The Roller-Coaster Life of a Texas Wildcatter.
JOHN C. TAYLOR JR.
After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, John C. Taylor of Gonzales graduated from then-Southwest Texas State College with a degree in journalism.
He joined the San Antonio Light as a reporter and left in 1954 to purchase the Seguin Gazette, which he owned until 1979. He served as president of South Texas Press Association in 1963-64 and president of Texas Gulf Coast Press Association in 1974.
Taylor was in his 21st year as publisher of the Seguin Gazette when he became the 98th president of the Texas Press Association in 1975. He had served as vice chair of the association’s building committee, assisting in the search for the property at Fifth Street and West Avenue in downtown Austin that became TPA headquarters in 1971.
While in Seguin, Taylor expanded the newspaper into Trans-Texas Publishing Company, the first central printing plant south of the Dallas area, an operation that printed more than 30 newspapers.
Taylor was a longtime director of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, serving 21 years under appointment of four governors ending with Ann Richards. He was also a member of the St. Mary’s University Board of Governors and many local civil clubs.
Taylor died at age 88 in 2014.
VICTOR B. FAIN
Victor B. Fain, a descendant of a pioneer Texas family, was born on a farm near Nacogdoches in 1915.
He attended then-Stephen F. Austin State College, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1936 while working as a correspondent for small local newspapers and five metro newspapers. After graduating, he was hired by the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel.
His career with Herald Publishing, the owner of the Sentinel and the Redland Herald, spanned six decades. In World War II, Fain’s newspaper career was placed on hold while he served in the Pacific as an air squadron officer. After the war, he was a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve for 20 years.
When he returned from active duty, he was named editor and publisher of the Sentinel, a post he held for 40 years, until Herald Publishing shareholders sold to Cox Newspapers in 1989.
Fain served as Texas Press Association president in 1961-62, capping many years of service on many of the organization’s boards and committees. In 1965 Fain received the North and East Texas Press Association’s prestigious Sam Holloway Award. He was honored in 1989 with Texas Press Association’s Golden 50 Award, commemorating his five decades as a working newspaperman in Texas.
In addition to mentoring employees who worked at the Sentinel, he taught journalism classes at SFA for many years.
Fain is remembered as a positive force in the Nacogdoches community, for his leadership roles in civic and booster clubs and as chair of the city’s planning and zoning commission. He also served as a director of the Neches River Conservation District and the McGee Bend Dam Development Corporation, an organization responsible for the creation of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
Fain died at age 84 in 2000.