Obituaries published in the August 2019 edition of the Texas Press Messenger.
Robert Allan “Bob” Dillard II
FORT DAVIS - Veteran West Texas newspaper publisher Robert Allan “Bob” Dillard II, 74, of Fort Davis died July 20 in Lubbock.
After growing up in Tyler, Corpus Christi and Fort Worth, Dillard first attended Baylor University. In the early 1970s, he enrolled at the University of Texas at Arlington to earn a degree in journalism. During his time at UTA, he became the sports editor of the school newspaper, The Shorthorn, and later the newspaper’s managing editor.
He married Christi Miles in 1973 and they moved to Tate Springs while he continued his studies at UTA. Upon graduation they set out to move to far West Texas and start a newspaper in Fort Davis.
In the fall of 1976 came news of the sale of the Alpine Avalanche. Along with Jimmy Allison of Midland and Bill Brooks of Alpine, the Dillards purchased the Avalanche. They continued to live in Fort Davis for 43 years.
During the 1980s the Dillards eventually owned all three of the tri-county area newspapers, the Avalanche, the Big Bend Sentinel and the Jeff Davis County Mountain Dispatch. In the early 1990s they went on the buy the weekly newspaper in Stanton, as well as starting a newspaper in the Midland suburb of Greenwood. He continued to write, manage and edit the Dispatch and the Martin County Messenger until his death.
Beyond his love for the news, Dillard was an advocate for the children of Fort Davis and the surrounding communities. He served on numerous boards and committees ranging from the Big Bend Livestock Association and Jeff Davis County Livestock Association to most recently the Fort Davis ISD School Board. He was also elected county judge of Jeff Davis County in the 1990s and was board member on the Fort Davis Chamber of Commerce for most of his time in Fort Davis.
Dillard was active in the West Texas Press Association, serving on the board and as an officer for many years. The regional press group honored him with the Harold Hudson Award in 2009.
He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Christi, of Fort Davis, two sons, seven grandchildren and other relatives.
A celebration of life was held Aug. 3 at the Kelly Pavilion in Fort Davis.
Memorial donations may be made to the Bob Dillard Memorial Scholarship Fund at Fort Davis State Bank.
Dan Van Cleve
In lieu of flowers, the obituary for former American-Statesman editor Dan Van Cleve urged people to “subscribe to your local newspaper and the Texas Observer.”
Van Cleve, a journalist and public affairs executive, died at his Pflugerville home on June 8. He was 72.
A Dallas native, he attended the University of Texas at Arlington, where he was editor of the student newspaper, the Shorthorn.
Van Cleve worked as a journalist at newspapers throughout Texas, including the Arlington Citizen Journal, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Dallas Times-Herald and the Statesman. While with the Statesman, he was one of the key people to help the newsroom transition from typewriters to computers in the late 1970 and early 1980s.
Later in life, he worked as a local and state government liaison for IBM, helped restore the Texas State Cemetery with Texas Parks and Wildlife and monitored the Texas budget for the office of then-State Comptroller John Sharp.
Survivors include his daughter, Genevieve Van Cleve, and other relatives.
Celebration of life was held June 22 at University United Methodist Church in Pflugerville.
Joshua C. Johnson
DeDOTO – Focus Daily News chief executive editor Joshua C. Johnson, 36, of DeSoto, died June 22.
A graduate of Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Johnson was studying for a master’s degree in business from Grand Canyon University.
Prior to his tenure as executive editor at Focus Daily News, Johnson was a news reporter for the North Dallas Gazette. He covered the police beat and political issues at the Gazette.
At Focus Daily News, he was honored three times by the Dallas Bar Association for Excellence in legal reporting.
Johnson’s most recent award was in 2018, when he won best in the Suburban Newspaper Division for his feature about an inspirational police officer for the Lancaster Independent School District.
Colleagues recalled him as dedicated both to the newspaper and to the communities it serves in Ellis and Dallas counties.
Following visitation at Paul Quinn College, celebration of Life services were held June 29 at United House of Prayer for All People in Dallas. Burial followed in Lincoln Memorial Park, Dallas.
Reagan Herald Durant
OAKWOOD – Reagan Herald Durant, 86, of Oakwood, formerly of Baytown, died June 23.
A native of the Pea Ridge community near Buffalo, he served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955 as a corporal in the infantry.
While he worked as a plant operator for a chemical company in Baytown for most of his life, his first love was his involvement in the newspaper business. He was a linotype operator and a typesetter for several newspapers, including the Buffalo Press and the Baytown Sun. He was the editor and a contributing columnist for the Port Neches Chronicle in the early 1960s.
Preceded in death by his wife Barbara, he is survived by four children, seven grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.
Funeral services were held June 29 at Walters Funeral Home in Centerville with burial in the Liberty Cemetery.