Obituaries published in the January 2021 edition of the Texas Press Messenger
Robert Lee Mann
AUSTIN – Journalist, professor, congressional aide and political consultant Bob Mann died Nov. 30 in Austin. He was 76.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, he grew up in Cameron, where his newspaper career began with the Cameron Herald, writing obituaries and sports starting at age 12.
He graduated from Sam Houston State university with a journalism degree in 1966 and went to work for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In his three years there, he worked as a copy editor, reporter and night city editor. Most notably, Mann was the Star-Telegram’s reporter on the ground in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968 covering the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He scrambled to a phone booth to relay his reporting back to the desk in Fort Worth as the situation unfolded.
In 1969, he moved his family to Colorado, where he attended graduate school at the University of Colorado, graduating in 1970. While in Colorado, he served as managing editor of the Longmont Daily Times-Call.
Returning to Texas two years later, he joined the Dallas Times Herald as assistant city editor. Before long, he navigated his way into academia for the first time as an assistant professor, and later chair of the journalism department of Southern Methodist University. At various times over the next four decades, he taught and shared his experiences as a journalist in classrooms across Texas, Virginia and Washington, DC. He was an adjunct professor at both the University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University. He was also an advocate for Huston-Tillotson University. In addition, over the years, he was a contributor to CNN, Fox News, the Austin American-Statesman, the Washington Post and New York Times.
In 1977, Mann served as press secretary for U.S. Congressman and later Senator Bob Krueger. In 1978, he joined the Carter Administration, serving in the White House as assistant deputy director of the President’s Council on Wage and Price Stability and later as director of public affairs for the Federal Communications Commission. From 1981 to 1984, he served as vice president of Carl Byoir & Associates in New York City, a public relations firm, before joining the staff of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts). After serving three years as the senator’s press secretary, Mann returned to his teaching career, retiring in 2012.
In 2018, Sam Houston State University placed Mann on the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Wall of Honor, the college’s highest honor.
Mann is survived by two daughters, four grandchildren and many other relatives.
A COVID-sensitive service was held in Austin Dec. 5, followed by burial in Oak Hill Cemetery in Cameron.
Memorial donations may be made to the Arleigh B. Templeton Fellows Endowment for Community Engagement or the Bearkat Emergency Fund for students experiencing financial difficulties, care of the Office of University Advancement, Sam Houston State University, Box 2537, Huntsville, Texas 77341-2537. Online contributions may be made at: https://www.shsu.edu/dept/university-advancement/giving.html.
SAN ANGELO – Gregorio Gutierrez, 66, founder, CEO and publisher of Conexión Hispana, a free paper dedicated to Spanish-first speakers in the west central and southwest Texas regions, died Dec. 13 in San Angelo.
Gutierrez grew up in Mexico and arrived in the U.S. in 1984. In 1986, he moved to San Angelo to work at Spanish radio station KSJT. In 1990, he married Araceli Gutierrez, a surgical assistant. By 2000, he earned his U.S. citizenship.
He founded his weekly newspaper in 2002, and the content and wide readership of his publication made an impact on how the region approached issues important to Hispanics from Del Rio to San Angelo. His company, Triangle Productions, grew to include Conexion Del Rio in 2008. His wife joined him the business, taking over billing and layout duties.
Gutierrez was praised by local educators for his work to expand educational opportunities for Hispanics.
Joe Munoz, former multicultural outreach assistant to the Angelo State University president’s office, said the Gutierrez’s paper was a game-changer for the university. By using Conexión, Munoz said ASU was able to recruit more Hispanic students throughout the region, obtaining federal government recognition and grants.
San Angelo Live reported the family said Gutierrez had been hospitalized since falling ill with COVID-19 in late November.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by six children, 17 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Funeral was held Dec. 16 at Southgate Church of Christ, followed by burial at Fairmont Cemetery, under the direction of Harper Funeral Home.
RICHARDSON – James Hollas, a lifelong newspaperman who helped two Texas dailies forge into the computer era, died in Richardson on Nov. 17. He was 82.
Hollas was a mentor and friend to many young journalists beginning their careers at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and later at the Austin American-Statesman.
A native of Rosebud, his family moved in 1948 to Cameron, where Hollas attended St. Anthony Catholic School and C.H. Yoe High School. He began his newspaper career at the Cameron Herald, handling everything from sports reporting to selling ads.
He joined the National Guard, became a staff sergeant, and spent 10 months on active duty at Fort Polk, La.
He was hired as a sports reporter at the Caller-Times in 1963. He later attended the University of Texas at Austin while working part-time as a reporter for the former Houston Post’s capital bureau. While at the university, he served as managing editor of the Daily Texan.
He returned to Corpus Christi in 1969 to become assistant news editor and head of the copy desk. He graduated from Corpus Christi University with a degree in political science.
When newspapers moved from typewriters to computers he helped install and manage the Caller-Times’ computer system. He moved to Dallas in 1981 to work for Atex, Inc., managing software engineers in Dallas, Chicago and Atlanta. He joined the Austin American-Statesman in 1986 as assistant systems manager and retired there in 2000.
Hollas was active in the Austin Genealogy Society, serving as president in 2002-2003. He co-chaired exhibit halls at national conferences of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. He traced his family back 300 years to Czechoslovakia and on a trip to the Czech Republic in 2005, he located the homes of his grandparents.
Memorial services were held Dec. 8 at St. Monica’s Catholic Church in Cameron, under the direction of Marek-Burns-Laywell Funeral Home. Memorial donations may be made to KUT Public Radio in Austin or the American Diabetes Association.
Charlie Robert “Choc” Hutcheson
LUBBOCK – Charlie Robert “Choc” Hutcheson, print and pioneering broadcast sports journalist, died Nov. 19 in Lubbock. He was 94.
A native of Fort Worth whose family moved to Monument, New Mexico, Hutcheson started his journalism career as a reporter for the Hobbs, New Mexico, Daily News Sun, where his column “Choc’s Chatter” was a regular feature.
In 1942, he enrolled at Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University), majoring in journalism and covering sports for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
While his academic study was interrupted by his service in World War II, his newspaper career continued in the Army. He was sent to Okinawa, Japan, as a combat correspondent, reporting from the front lines and earning the Bronze Star. By 1946, Choc had been promoted to sergeant major and was editor of the Daily Pacifican, a U.S. Army newspaper in Manila, Philippine Islands. He earned an Army Commendation Medal for his service. Hutcheson continued his military service in the Army Reserves, retiring in 1966 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
He resumed study at Texas Tech and graduated in 1948 with a degree in journalism. When television came to Lubbock in the early 1950s, Hutcheson became the first news/sports director for KCBD TV and was elected president of the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Association.
Although journalism was his calling, he indulged his love and knowledge of sports by taking positions at the Texas Baseball League in Fort Worth and as general manager of the Lubbock Hubber Baseball Club. He even tried his hand at politics, serving as assistant to the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party when Preston Smith was re-elected as governor. He completed his professional life as an independent oil investor in West Texas.
His sense of humor provided the opportunity for him to write gags for many national cartoonists. Those works appeared in some 300 publications, including The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, and Time Magazine. His captivating storytelling earned him the title of “World’s Champion Liar” by the Burlington, Wisconsin, Liar’s Club and resulted in an appearance on the “I’ve Got a Secret” television show in 1961.
He was also known as philanthropist and avid supporter of Texas Tech, where he and his wife Virginia endowed scholarships.
He was inducted into the Texas Tech College of Media and Communications Hall of Fame in 1990, was named a Texas Tech University Distinguished Alumnus in 1996 and was awarded the Lauro Cavazos Award from the Texas Tech Alumni Association in 2005. In addition to Texas Tech, the Hutchesons supported numerous other charities in the Lubbock community and were members of First United Methodist Church.
Preceded in death by his wife, he is survived by a sister and other relatives.
The family has chosen to postpone a celebration of life service until friends and family may safely gather.
Memorial donations may be made to Helping Hand Scholarship at the Texas Tech Alumni Association, P.O. Box 45001, Lubbock, TX 79409; The Texas Tech College of Media and Communications through the Choc Hutcheson Memorial Fund at http://donate.give2tech.com/give/ChocHutcheson, or to the Texas Tech Foundation, Texas Tech University System Financial Services, Box 45025, Lubbock, TX 79409-5025.
John Kenneth Smart
DALLAS – Kenneth Smart, the city editor who directed Dallas Times Herald’s coverage of the Kennedy assassination in 1963 and later published the Kilgore News Herald for a decade, died Nov. 21. He was 88.
A native of Dallas, Smart earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of North Texas, working in the summers for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Carrollton Chronicle.
While pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Texas, he worked as the minister of music and education at the First Baptist Church of Georgetown. He accepted a job as a reporter with the Dallas Times Herald in 1954, but military service soon interrupted his career.
He returned to Dallas in 1956 and continued to serve in an active Army reserve unit in for 21 years, retiring with the rank of major.
Smart was city editor for the Dallas Times Herald in November 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. In that role, he was responsible for assigning all of the paper’s reporters to cover the assassination and the subsequent killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby, and he recalled spending that entire weekend at the office.
Later, a professional newspaper journal praised the work of the “33-year-old City Editor” in covering the assassination. Smart complained to his wife about a factual error in the article — he was only 31 at the time — but she replied that he aged at least two years over those few days.
He continued to serve at the Times Herald for 21 years before purchasing and operating a weekly newspaper in Dallas, the White Rocker News.
In 1978, Smart joined the Kilgore News Herald and served as publisher for 10 years before managing newspapers in Alamogordo, N.M., and Weatherford.
While in Kilgore, he was a member of the Rotary Club. After retirement, he served as a master docent at the East Texas Oil Museum.
Smart was active in church work, serving as a Sunday school teacher for almost 60 years, including more than 30 years at the First Baptist Church of Kilgore. He wrote a history of that church and two books on the history of the Baptist Foundation.
He is survived by his wife of almost 67 years, Betty Burns Smart, two children, three grandchildren, two great grandchildren and other relatives.
Burial in Grove Hill Cemetery in Dallas followed private family services on Nov. 25. There are plans for a memorial service for friends at a later date.
Daniel T. Puckett
CONVERSE – Veteran journalist Daniel T. Puckett of Converse, 65, died Nov. 26.
An editor at the San Antonio Express-News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, St. Petersburg Times and Bryan-College Station Eagle, he was known as a stickler for truth and accuracy. He is also remembered as a mentor to countless young journalists.
Puckett was a graduate of Central Catholic High School and Texas A&M University and also studied at Georgetown University and the University of Texas at Austin.
After leaving the newspaper business in 2010, he worked for Zachry Construction Corp. and Pearson PLC. He was fluent in Russian and Spanish.
He was also a musician, playing keyboard with the underground bands The Huns and Radio Free Europe, which dominated Austin’s punk rock scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
No services were planned.
He is survived by his husband, Rafael Angel Estevez Dominguez; his mother, sisters and extended family.
AUSTIN – Former AP capitol reporter Lee Jones of Austin died Dec. 7 at the age of 82.
A native of Dallas, he attended Stanford University and graduated with honors from The University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor of journalism degree in 1960 followed by undergraduate and master’s degrees in economics.
He was an Associated Press capitol reporter in Austin from 1960 to 1981, with two years off for service as an Army lieutenant. He was a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter from 1981 to 1986 and a public information officer for the Texas Department of Insurance from 1986 to 2003.
As a journalist, he won three Headliners Club awards and was a proud member of the Wire Service Guild participating in the WSG’s 1969 strike against the AP. He also was active in the Society of Professional Journalists, including service as Austin chapter president followed by more than 20 years as treasurer.
He was also active in the Austin Civic Chorus, the Austin Choral Union and the Texas Choral Consort. He was a ruling elder of Genesis Presbyterian Church in Austin.
Jones is survived by his wife, Cinda, two children, one grandson, three great grandchildren and other relatives.
Memorial service was held Dec. 20 at Genesis Presbyterian Church. Memorial contributions may be made to the Chorus Austin at www.chorusaustin.org.
Gilbert C. (Bob) Vetters
CORPUS CHRISTI – Gilbert C. (Bob) Vetters, longtime advertising sales executive with Harte-Hanks Newspapers and former general manager of the Brazosport Facts, died Dec. 10. He was 85.
A native of Corpus Christi, Vetters attended Del Mar College on a tennis scholarship and won the Texas Conference Championship in 1955. He earned a bachelor of journalism degree at the University of Texas at Austin.
A second-generation newspaperman, he held numerous positions at the Corpus Christi Caller Times and was promoted to national advertising manager. In the early 1970s he was Texas retail sales manager for Harte-Hanks Newspapers. He was also advertising manager for the Midland Reporter Telegram and the Laredo Times. In 1983 he joined the Brazosport Facts as advertising director and later served as general manager.
During his career, Vetters served as president of the American Association of Newspaper Representatives and as president of the Texas Newspaper Advertising Managers Association.
He served the community as a member of the the Hospice Care Team, Board of Directors of Brazoria County Hospice, and was active in the United Way, the American Cancer Society, Boys Town and Cal Farley’s Boys’ Ranch. He also served on the board of directors for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) at St. Pius X and was a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus.
He is survived by five children, seven grandchildren and other relatives.
Funeral mass was held Dec. 17 at Corpus Christi Cathedral with graveside services in Rose Hill Cemetery, under the direction of Maxwell P. Dunne Funeral Service.
Memorial donations may be made to Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch (calfarley.org) or the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (ssvdp.org).
Harry Hardin Shattuck
HOUSTON – Harry Hardin Shattuck, who covered 3,000 baseball games and visited 50 countries as sports writer and travel writer for the Houston Chronicle, died Nov. 19. He was 75.
Shattuck moved to Houston in 1970 from Jackson, Mississippi after graduating from Millsaps College and working on his masters at University of Missouri. He worked 39 years at the Houston Chronicle prior to his retirement in 2010. His first 23 years of journalism were in sports. He covered the Astros for 13 years and proceeded to cover NFL, NBA, professional hockey, many college sports and two Olympic games, including the first dream team in Barcelona, Spain.
He covered 14 World Series for the newspaper and was president of the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
He was the assistant sports editor prior before becoming travel editor for his final 16 years at the Chronicle.
According to his wife, Joan, Shattuck said that to cover sports, a writer needs three degrees - a journalism degree, a law degree and a degree in child psychology.
Among Shattuck’s honors during his four-decade career at the Chronicle included a place on the Astros Media Wall of Honor at Minute Maid Park for his baseball writing and the Lowell
Thomas Travel Journalism Award from the Society of American Travel Writers.
He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Joan Pucek Shattuck, siblings and other relatives.
A memorial service will be held at a later date at Settegast-Kopf Co. funeral home in Sugar Land. Memorial donations may be made to the Houston Food Bank, Feeding America, or to a charity of choice.