Past presidents passing the TPA gavel to new President Laurie Ezzell Brown during the induction of new officers were (from left) Mary Henkel Judson, 1990-91, Port Aransas South Jetty; Larry Jackson, 1998-99, Wharton Journal Spectator, now retired; Debbie Day, filling in for her late husband Marshall Day, 2006-07, Gatesville Messenger; Chad Ferguson, 2011-23, The Banner Press Newspaper, Columbus; Russel Skiles, 2012-13, Lamesa Press Reporter; Greg Shrader, 2013-2014, Lufkin Daily News, now retired; Randy Mankin, 2014-15, Eldorado Success; Randy Keck, 2016-17, The Community News, Aledo; and Pat Canty, 2017-18, Odessa American.
Laurie Ezzell Brown, editor and publisher of The Canadian Record, was inducted as the 141st president of the Texas Press Association during the closing ceremony of the summer leadership retreat, held at La Torretta Lake Resort in Montgomery.
As she received the gavel passed to her by past presidents in TPA’s annual tradition, Brown paid tribute to her predecessors. “I am mindful today of the high standards you have set, and grateful for your leadership and wise counsel,” she said.
Brown succeeds Odessa American Publisher Patrick Canty, who now will serve as chairman of the board. She presented him with a commemorative plaque, past president pin and lifetime membership card.
“We have seen many changes in this profession that I revere,” Brown said, “and I believe we have reached a defining moment in the future of journalism, and of a free and independent press. It is we who will define it. Some things have never changed, and never will. We must continue to seek the truth and report it fearlessly. What we do matters.”
Brown consistently produces award-winning newspapers. She was nurtured in the business by her legendary parents, the late Ben and Nancy Ezzell, whose gritty editorial stances and undying love of community began at the newspaper in 1947. Sixty years later, in 2007, the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues presented The Canadian Record and the Ezzell family with the Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, tenacity and integrity in rural community journalism.
Brown has served as editor of The Record since the death of her father in 1993. She later assumed the role of co-publisher with Nancy Ezzell, until her mother’s retirement in 2010. Brown continues in her parents’ footsteps, chronicling the life of the Texas Panhandle city of Canadian and Hemphill County. As editor and publisher since her mother’s death in 2013, Brown is quick to credit her loyal and hardworking staff. Their published work, produced in tabloid format, regularly draws the notice of news organizations and peers across Texas and the nation.
In addition to serving as an officer and director of TPA, Brown served as president of the Panhandle Press Association in 1985-86 and again in 2009-10. In 2009, she was inducted into the PPA Hall of Fame. She is also active in the West Texas Press Association.
Other TPA leaders taking office with Brown are First Vice President Ramona Ferguson, Columbus, The Banner Press; Second Vice President Jim Bardwell, Gladewater Mirror; Treasurer Leonard Woolsey, Galveston County Daily News, and TPA Executive Director Mike Hodges. Directors beginning new three-year terms are Sue Brown, Pleasanton Express, and Bill Patterson, Denton Record-Chronicle.