2017 award recipients
announced June 19, 2017 at the TPA Leadership Retreat in Ruidoso, New Mexico.
Murray Judson began his newspaper career at the age of 17 when he went to work at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. He was hired to work in the photo lab, and became a photographer two weeks later.
He worked full-time at the Caller-Times while attending Del Mar College and Texas A&I (now A&M) University in Kingsville. He graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism.
Judson joined the Navy reserves in 1967, and when he was required to go on two-year active duty status, he got orders to join a riverboat in Vietnam.
Just before he left, he met a navy commander in the public affairs office at NAS Corpus Christi. That encounter with Com. John Foley led to a change in Judson’s orders – and his life. He would, instead of going to Vietnam, be working as a photographer for the CNAVANTRA admiral full-time, which he did for two years. At the same time, he continued working for the Caller-Times.
He reached the rank of journalist third class, switched from surface to air status and became a photographer’s mate third class.
While at the Caller-Times, Judson won numerous Corpus Christi Press Club, National Press Photographers Association and Associated Press awards, including sweepstakes for the state of Texas before the awards were separated by circulation. He also was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He didn’t win, but the copy boy he trained as a photographer won two Pulitzers.
Judson met his future wife, Mary Henkel when, as a student at The University of Texas, she interned at the Caller-Times. They married two years later and moved to Refugio to take over operation of the Refugio County Press for her parents, Cap and Kitty Henkel, when they retired in 1976. While working in Refugio, the Judsons spent weekends at a small home they built in Port Aransas, where Murray enjoyed surfing.
As co-publishers in Refugio, Murray took care of advertising, photography, business and layout duties and Mary handled the news side.
On their weekends in Port Aransas, the Judsons got to know the owner of the South Jetty, Steve Frishman, who always offered to sell the paper to them – at a highly inflated price. They told him that when he got serious, they’d talk about it over dinner. In the fall of 1980, Frishman called and invited them to dinner. Needless to say, he had an offer the Judsons could not refuse, and they assumed ownership of the South Jetty on Jan. 1, 1981.
Two years later, they bought the Refugio County Press from the small corporation that owned it. In 1983, the Judsons hired a publisher for the Refugio County Press and moved to Port Aransas with their five-month-old daughter, Libby, to take the helm at the South Jetty.
In the mid-1980s, the Judsons also acted as managing partners for the Goliad Advance-Guard and a free publication called Entertainment that focused on events and activities in the Coastal Bend. Their partner in those endeavors had a change of heart and the Judsons ended their involvement with both publications.
The oil bust of the 1980s led the Judsons to sell the Refugio County Press and focus their attention on the South Jetty.
Under the Judson’s leadership, the South Jetty and Refugio County Press have won numerous awards from the Texas Gulf Coast Press Association, the South Texas Press Association, the Texas Press Association and the National Newspaper Association in large part because of the Judsons’ capable and talented staff members. Murray Judson is a past president of the Corpus Christi Press Club, the South Texas Press Association (1995-96), the Texas Gulf Coast Press Association (1985-86) and co-president of TGCPA with Mary in 2012-13.
Bonnie Mooney Mullens got her start in newspaper business early. She is the daughter and granddaughter of editors and publishers of The McGregor Mirror.
Bonnie caught newspapers coming off the press and delivered bills from the time she was in elementary school. She joined the staff for pay in 1966, the summer before her freshman year in high school. She sold advertising and collected community happenings for The Mirror and continued through high school, working after school and during summers, when she also sold subscriptions, collected accounts and performed bookkeeping tasks. She also typed stencils for the subscription-stamping machine, stamped newspapers for mailing and did all that was asked of her.
After enrolling at Baylor University in 1970 to study journalism, Bonnie continued working during the summer the first year, but then started working as a student employee with The Baylor Lariat, focusing on advertising, but also as a liaison with the editorial side. She worked summers for Baylor in ad sales, and also part-time for The Mirror until her graduation in 1974.
She was hired and went to work a week before her graduation as an editorial assistant for the national newspaper of National Association for Retarded Citizens at its national headquarters in Arlington, Texas. After two years, she returned to McGregor and joined her family in publishing The Mirror in January 1976, working for her parents and alongside her brother, Charles Mooney.
Her main duties upon returning were selling and designing advertising, plus reporting and writing feature stories, bookkeeping and selling subscriptions and emptying the trash.
Her parents, Bonnie and Thomas Mooney, turned the newspaper over to their three children in 1992, when they both retired, but Thomas continued to write his column, “This, That and The Other,” until his death in April 1994.
Following her father’s death, Bonne started writing a column, “Mullen It Over,” and has continued the weekly column since then, along with her other duties of putting out a weekly newspaper with her brother, Charles. Their sister, Mynette, took care of circulation and bookkeeping from 1986 until her retirement in 2014, and Bonnie took on those additional duties.
Since 1994, Bonnie has been honored to receive awards in Column Writing, Headline Writing, Community Service and Editorial Writing from Texas Press Association and North and East Texas Press Association. She served as president of the North and East Texas Press Association in 2003-2004 and received the association’s prestigious Sam C. Holloway Award in 1998.
The Mooney siblings continue to run their family's newspaper.
Like his sisters, Mynette and Bonnie, Charles Mooney was born into the newspaper business. He and his sisters make up the third consecutive generation of their family to publish The McGregor Mirror.
Charles’s grandfather, Charles Hall, worked at the newspaper in the early 1900s and bought the business in 1918. He and his wife, Lillian, put in many long, hard hours at The Mirror from 1918 to 1955 with Lillian working as as bookkeeper and reporter. The Halls had one daughter, Bonnie, who would marry Thomas Mooney and become the parents of three children who like them, would stick with the newspaper.
Bonnie and Thomas worked at the newspaper from 1955 to 1992, with Bonnie as bookkeeper and Thomas handling business operations, from soliciting ads to pecking out stories on the Linotype machine.
Charles’s newspaper career began when he was 12, working summers. Although he started out most interested in the printing operation, he eventually got more into the newspaper side of the business, as his father told him would be the case. He began work in photography and through the high school years took photos for the newspaper, learned to roll and develop black and white film and print the pictures in trays filled with developer, a water stop bath and fixer.
After graduation from McGregor High School in 1969, Charles attended McLennan Community College in Waco for two years and then transferred to Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, where he graduated in July 1973, majoring in journalism with a minor in printing. During his college years, he continued to shoot Friday night football games for The Mirror.
Upon graduation, a number of changes were made at The Mirror. Charles’s father lowered the ceilings and installed central air and heating and had a spacious darkroom built, an improvement to the previous darkroom — a small bathroom in the newspaper office.
Charles considers himself fortunate to have experienced the newspaper’s development from a hand-fed Babcock press through the conversion to offset printing in 1974. “We tried desperately to find a museum or someone who would take and preserve the Babcock press because we needed the room, but we had no takers. When a salvage company contacted us about taking it for scrap, we finally agreed, but when they walked in the back door with sledge hammers, my father and I had to quickly leave the building because we didn’t want to see what was about to take place,” Charles said.
The family still owns the Linotype — still capable of throwing out lead slugs — that was purchased new by their grandfather in 1925 at a Dallas trade show. “I can vividly remember the sounds of all that machinery in operation — the Linotype machine, the Babcock press, the folding machine that hooked up to the Babcock press and the open-fed job presses. Some of the changes I experienced were converting to offset printing, printing out type on a Compugraphic machine and headline writer, waxing the type and sticking it down on layout pages. We had purchased a process camera, so I would shoot the halftones to be stripped in where we got our newspaper printed. The Compugraphic was replaced with computers. Our first was a Macintosh Plus and then an SE that had 20 and 30 megabytes of storage. I thought at the time that we would never fill up that much space. Then eventually the film camera was replaced with digital cameras. That’s got to be one of the greatest inventions after so many years slaving in the dark room and breathing in fumes of acid fixer.”
“My greatest joy in the newspaper business was working along side my daddy, Thomas Mooney. In our free time, we took up the game of golf. He was in his early 40s and I was 17. We enjoyed playing together and couldn’t wait to arrive on Thursday at the summer Texas Press conventions for the golf tournament,” Charles said.
“My mother and father retired in 1992 and handed the newspaper operation over to us. We have been putting out a weekly newspaper ever since. It’s been a pure joy to work with my sisters for the past 23 years and to proudly publish a newspaper that strictly reports on local news," he said.
“There have been many changes in the newspaper industry and the way people receive their news such as with social media. We still believe that physically turning the pages of a weekly newspaper is so much better than swiping the pages on a phone. I guess it is part of the newsprint and ink that has been circulating within us for the past three generations.”