Obituaries published in the May 2019 edition of the Texas Press Messenger.
ROY APPLETON, JR.
DENTON – Roy Appleton, Jr, former president and general manager of the Denton Record-Chronicle and a leading community leader in Denton during the 1960s, 70s and 80s, died April 8. He was 94.
Appleton retired in 1991 as president and general manager after 44 years at the newspaper, the only full-time job he had after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II.
Appleton, along with Record-Chronicle executive Fred Patterson, led many civic projects, including the renovation of the Campus Theater and the Center for the Visual Arts. The duo led in the development of the Holiday Lighting Festival and the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, among other civic projects. In 2014, the Center for the Visual Arts was named the Patterson-Appleton Center for the Visual Arts in their honor.
After war service as a radio operator and communication specialist in Tarawa, Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, Appleton returned to the University of Texas on the GI Bill. In 1947, he transferred to what is now the University of North Texas, and in 1949 he received a bachelor of business administration degree from North Texas.
Record-Chronicle owner Riley Cross hired Appleton while he was still a student at North Texas. He sold classified ads, wrote stories for the business section and the industrial page, took pictures and operated a posting machine at the paper.
Over the next 44 years, Appleton became the ad manager and later business manager and finally general manager. In 1986, Vivian Cross retired as publisher and Fred Patterson became publisher. Appleton became president of the company.
In 1984, he was honored by the Texas Daily Newspaper Association as the Texas Newspaper Leader of the Year.
He spearheaded a $6 million improvement project at the paper, including adding Flexography units to the presses.
In the 1980s, it was discovered that the Federal Communications Commission had set aside Channel 2 for use by Denton as an educational channel. Appleton headed up the effort to get the channel for Denton in 1981 and served as president of the Denton Channel 2 Foundation. He later became vice chairman of the board for North Texas Public Broadcasting Inc., owner of KERA in Dallas. Channel 2 later was sold to KERA.
Appleton was preceded in death by his wife, Margie Lee (Monroe) Appleton, who died in 2006. He married Alice Sidor in 2008 and she died in 2012.
Appleton is survived by three sons, six grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
A memorial service was held April 18 at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Denton. Memorials may be made to United Way of Denton County, 1314 Teasley Lane, Denton, TX 76205.
AUSTIN – Akwasi Roselle Evans, who founded the Nokoa ewspaper and covered issues such as police misconduct and community empowerment for more than 30 years, died in his Austin home at the age of 70.
“Nokoa laid the groundwork for fighting for social justice in the local media,” said Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP. “Evans left no stone unturned to find out what was going on in the community.”
Evans launched the publication in 1987 and advocated for social justice issues side-by-side with the community, Linder said, and often delivered the paper himself.
“Everyone knew Akwasi,” said Tommy Wyatt, editor-in-chief of The Villager newspaper. “He was a very congenial person and committed community worker.” Wyatt and Evans, along with co-host Damita Shanklin, had a weekly Friday morning talk show on 88.7 KAZI FM called The Breakfast Club.
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Evans enjoyed learning and traveling abroad. Over the years, he lectured at area universities, recited poetry and organized annual Kwanzaa, Black History Month and Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations. He pressured the city of Austin to stand firm against apartheid.
Evans described Nokoa as “a political progressive newspaper with an Afro-centric perspective,” but also emphasized its multicultural audience. Nokoa means “observer” in Swahili.
In recent years, Evans shared his struggles with keeping the newspaper going, but he persisted.
The latest issue was published the week before his death. In his last article he wrote: “NOKOA is still struggling mightily for survival and that strife is testament to our resilience. We started from nothing; with nothing and still don’t have two nickels to rub together. But, what we can boast of is a track record of service and the ability to get back on track every time we get derailed.”
EARL C. HILL JR.
EMORY – Longtime newspaperman Earl C. Hill Jr. died in his home March 27, his 81st birthday.
Hill was the third-generation owner/publisher of the Rains County Leader.
His grandfather Tom Hill purchased the Leader in 1904. Hill began learning the newspaper trade at the Leader under the tutelage of his father, Earl Hill Sr.
After graduating from Emory High School, he attended East Texas State University, where he ran the college print shop. He first acquired the newspaper in Lone Oak, which he published for a brief time.
Upon his father’s death in 1960, Hill took part ownership of the Leader, along with his aunt, Kathleen Hill Becknell.
In 1962, Hill gave operational control of the Leader to his aunt and moved to Dallas, where he founded Express Typesetting Company, Inc. in 1966. He built the company into one of the top three typesetting firms in Dallas.
He returned to the Leader in 1995, after the death of his aunt. From that time, he became sole owner and publisher. He transformed the paper with a new design and layout that earned multiple awards over the years.
His son Earl (Trey) Hill, III, is now the fourth-generation editor and publisher of the Leader.
Through the pages of the Leader and through civic work, Hill advocated for the growth of Emory and Rains County, helping pass school bonds and promoting other projects.
He was an active member of the Emory Baptist Church.
Hill was preceded in death by his wife Carolyn in 2016.
He is survived by three children, 10 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Funeral services were held March 30 at Emory Baptist Church. Burial followed in the Emory City Cemetery.
THOMAS RICHARD WHITE
PITTSBURG – Thomas Richard (Dick) White, publisher of his family newspaper the Pittsburg Gazette for more than 40 years, died April 6. He was 94.
White served as a midshipman, later lieutenant, in the U.S. Navy during World War II and began his career as editor of The Gazette in 1948, just after graduating from the University of Texas with a journalism degree. His newspaper experience began as a teenager, working alongside his father, T.J. White, the business manager, and grandfather, R.B. Lockhart.
Colleagues and friends remembered him as devoted to his work and his community. Active in local civic and church work, he was a past chairman of the administrative board of the First United Methodist Church, former president of the Pittsburg Rotary Club, a Cub Scout leader, and helped build the first Little League baseball park in Pittsburg. Among many other positions, he was also former president and member of the North East Texas Municipal Water District for more than 20 years, advocating for Pittsburg’s portion of water rights to Lake Bob Sandlin.
A past president and long-time director of the North and East Texas Press Association, White was also a past director of Texas Press Association and won many state and regional press association awards as an editorial writer. He sold the Gazette in 1987.
White published the 100th anniversary edition of the Gazette in 1984 and shared his memories of the newspaper and the county in the newspaper’s 125th anniversary edition in 2009. He was also was the author of a book on Pilgrim’s Pride, commemorating the company’s first 50 years.
He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Jenny (Martin) White, two children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
A family graveside service was held April 13 in Rose Hill Cemetery, followed by a memorial service at First United Methodist Church, Pittsburg. Memorials may be directed to the local Boy Scouts of America or to First United Methodist Church, Pittsburg.