-30- June 2015

George La Don Hamilton

George La Don Hamilton died April 15, 2015, at age 78. He was known for dedicating much of his life to bettering the small community of Fritch.

Hamilton was born April 6, 1937, in Rifle, Co., to Charlie and Verda Hamilton. He was husband to Fern Sheets.

With his first wife, Cherry Hamilton, he founded The Eagle Press on Aug. 19, 1987. The Eagle Press graduated from the back room of their home to a building he designed and built expressly for the paper. 

After the sale of the paper in 1995, he still kept an ear to the ground and offered words of advice to successors. 

‘’Everybody has a story, Tara,” he would remind the editor when he called to get an update on the happenings of the town.

Hamilton served in the United States Navy. He was instrumental in building the Fritch Museum, amphitheater, senior citizens center and other activities to the Fritch community.

Jim Jones


Former religion reporter Jim Jones died May 2, 2015, at age 79.

When Jones started the religion beat at the Star-Telegram in 1978, most newspapers printed “church news,” but few treated the topic as a newsworthy subject.

“The news business was really just beginning to understand what a force religion was not only in the U.S., but around the world,” former Star-Telegram metro editor Katie Sherrod said. “Jim got that a lot sooner than most of us.” 

For more than 20 years, Jones covered televangelists, the upheaval among Southern Baptists and the schism of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. He wrote about Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists, and several stories about the Dalai Lama.

He covered popes and the tragic mass shooting at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth.

Jones was hired at the Star-Telegram on Feb. 4, 1957, and retired on Dec. 31, 2000. He continued freelance writing during his retirement. In October he interviewed former President Jimmy Carter during his visit to Fort Worth on a Habitat for Humanity project. His last story in the Star-Telegram on March 3 dealt with a court ruling involving the Episcopalians.

Scott Mahon


Scott Mahon died May 4, 2015, at the age of 68.

Born in Galveston on July 10, 1946, he grew up in Ozona. After graduating from Texas Christian University with a bachelor’s degree in business, Mahon served as a lieutenant in the Navy during the Vietnam War until 1972. After his military service, he worked in several fields, ranging from Andrews County auditor to editor of the Texas Journal of Rural Health.

Determined to write the next great American novel, Mahon began his career as a journalist in 1993. Having grown up in Ozona, Mahon found that working at small-town newspapers was a natural fit, his family said.

In 2006, he joined the staff of the Bulverde News and quickly became editor of the publication, which was later purchased by the San Antonio Express-News.

When the Bulverde News was discontinued in 2013, Mahon begrudgingly retired. In his 20 years of reporting, he was named Journalist of the Year by the North and East Texas Press Association and received numerous awards from the Texas Press Association for his newswriting, feature writing and photography.

Virginia Gurley Meynard 

Historian Virginia Gurley Meynard, of Columbia, S.C., died on May 13, 2015, at age 95.

Meynard was born on Nov. 8, 1919, in Waco, the daughter of Davis Robert III and Nell Whitman Gurley, and was the wife of the late Ernest Bennet Meynard.

She graduated from Baylor University with a degree in journalism and was a reporter for the Waco News-Tribune, the Dayton, Ohio Herald and the Dayton Daily News in the early years of World War II.

Meynard was the author of “The Venturers, the Hampton, Harrison and Earle Families of Virginia, South Carolina and Texas” (1981), “The Scottish Clan McRae and Some American Branches” (1985), “History of Lower Richland County and Its Early Planters” (2011) and was co-editor of “South Carolina Portraits” (1996) published by the National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of South Carolina. Her final publication, “Christopher Fitzsimons and His Domain,” is set for release in 2015.

 She was active in many Columbia organizations, serving as a docent at Historic Columbia Foundation, the Columbia Museum of Art, the South Carolina State Museum and the Governor’s Mansion. She was a member of the board of directors of the South Carolina Archives and History Foundation, the South Caroliniana Library and the South Carolina State Museum. 

Joseph J. Miller


Joseph J. Miller died April 27, 2015, at the age of 89.

He was born in Chickasha, Okla. to Charles and Era Miller on Jan. 26, 1926. He was husband to Melva Jean Howard.

He began his career in newspapers at the age of 8 by distributing The Oklahoma News on the street. When he was 14, he began working for The Chickasha Daily Express part-time, delivering and selling newspapers, working in the composing room, pouring pigs (melted lead for type) and operating the Linotype machines. He served his apprenticeship as a printer’s devil until he became a journeyman and passed his typographical union test working for the newspaper.

He was drafted into World War II at the age of 18 and entered combat with the “Red Star Doughboys.” He was awarded a Presidential Citation for outstanding gallantry and heroism against the enemy. 

He returned to the newspaper business where the military oath he had taken “…to serve and protect the Constitution of the United States of America” would be utilized for many years to come. For the next 15 years, he worked as a production foreman and composing room foreman at the Daily Express.

He purchased the White Deer News in 1961 and the Panhandle Herald in 1971.

He was installed as a member of the Panhandle Press Hall of Fame in 1999, and retired from publishing when he sold both newspapers in 2009.

John McAnally Sellman


John McAnally Sellman of Mart died April 25, 2015, at the age of 76.

He was born Aug. 17, 1938, in Fort Worth, to Collis Fred and Marguerite Helen Sellman. He was husband to Pamela Pearl Ford.

His parents ran The Bridgeport Index, and the five children learned the newspaper trade there.

He graduated from Bridgeport High School in 1956. He attended North Texas State College before purchasing his first of several local weekly newspapers, The Crawford Sun, at age 19.

During his career, he published The Cranfills Gap Index, The Valley Mills Tribune, The Mart Daily Herald, The Mart Weekly Herald (later renamed The Mart Herald) and The Mart Messenger. He also worked as a reporter/editor for The Bellmead News, The Hobbs Flare, The Union County Leader, The Las Vegas Optic, and published an award-winning article in New Mexico Magazine. He also served in the United States Army for two years, stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska.

William B. Wilkerson


William B. Wilkerson died April 30, 2015.

Known to most as "Wild Bill" and "Super," Williamson was known for living every day with generosity and gusto.

Born April 12, 1929, to James Claude Wilkerson and Alma May Brightman, Wilkerson became a second-generation newspaper man at the age of 8 as a printer's devil at the Comanche Chief, where his father was the publisher and owner.

He married his college sweetheart, Judith Blanton Wilkerson, in 1950 and graduated from the University of Texas in 1951.

He joined the U.S. Air Force during the Korean Conflict. He also attended night school to learn the ins and outs of a machine he grew to hate - the newspaper Linotype. 

In 1956, he returned to Comanche to serve as editor of the Comanche Chief. Three children were born and raised in this newspaper family — David, Katie and Noel. In 1974, he and Judy sold their interest in the Chief and purchased the Pleasanton Express newspaper.

The Wilkersons also bought the De Leon Free Press, which they owned and served as publishers of until 1998. In the 1980s, the Wilkersons joined Bill Berger of the Hondo Anvil Herald in establishing the South Texas Press that currently prints newspapers, inserts and collateral material. 

All the while, he and Judy maintained the credo "Let's get the best product out and have as much fun as we can!" Over the past 41 years, the Pleasanton Express has won hundreds of awards from the South Texas Press Association (STPA) and Texas Press Association (TPA), including the 2014 sweepstakes at both the Texas Press Association and Gulf Coast Press Association.

Wilkerson maintained a close affiliation with the STPA family, where he served as president from 1968-69, and secretary/treasurer from 1985-2004. He was unanimously voted permanent assistant treasurer of STPA in 2004. He also served as a board member and member of TPA for many years and won TPA's prestigious Golden 50 Year Award in recognition of 50 years service to journalism in 2004.

Verna Melvin Young 

Verna Melvin Young died May 2, 2105. He was born in Lubbock County on Sep. 21, 1929, to Thomas Earl and Cassie Viola (Brewer) Young. 

He graduated from Wellington High and then joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He was attached to the headquarters of Marine Garrison Forces, Pacific, stationed at Pearl Harbor. After discharge he returned to Wellington and married Ilene Williams. They lived in Hereford, where Melvin was associated with the local newspaper, the Hereford Brand. 

In 1950, at the start of the Korean War, he was recalled to active duty and attached to the 1st Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Joseph H. Pendleton. Upon discharge in 1951, he returned to Hereford and the newspaper, where he remained employed for the next 25 years. 

He served as president of the West Texas Press Association (1970-71) and was on the board of directors of the Panhandle Press Association and the Texas Press Association. The newspaper, and Young personally, won many association awards, among them column writing and advertising composition. In 1973, the Youngs moved to Lubbock where they established a commercial printing business.