Golden 50 — 1987

1987 Recipients

108th Summer Convention, June 26, 1987, The Hershey Hotel, Corpus Christi

William E. Berger, Hondo Anvil Herald
Jeanelle Bryant, Real County American
William H. Dozier, Kerrville Daily Times
Nan Outlar, Wharton Journal-Spectator
Virginia Robey, Wellington Leader
Thomas R. Stagg, Crane News
J.L. "Mike" Werst Jr., Big Lake Wildcat

William E. (Bill) Berger

Bill Berger bean his career during the depression when he started a daily newspaper route in his hometown of Carthage, Illinois. He was 12 years old at the time.

He took the next step up the ladder by becoming a correspondent for Chicago and Peoria daily newspapers. He was in high school then and earned the going rate of a few cents for each column inch that appeared in print.

Bill later attended Carthage College, located in his hometown. At that time, he worked as the college's publicity writer, submitting copy to the local newspaper, the Hancock County Journal.

Following his college years, Bill worked for several Midwestern publications. Included among these re newspapers in lola, Kansas; Rolla, Missouri; and Yankton, South Dakota. He served as circulation manager of each of those newspapers.

His experience during that time included the job of city district manager for the Topeka State Journal, a rather large daily.

Following 18 months in the circulation business, Bill became advertising manager, and later managing editor, of the Tuscola Review, a weekly newspaper in Central Illinois.

About the time he had made a decision to purchase a newspaper, along came World War II, and Bill was sent to Texas for his basic training.

"No man could have been subjected to a worse fate than basic training," Bill thought. But things looked much brighter shortly thereafter when he met a University of Texas coed by the name of Jerry Barnes. She became Mrs. Bill Berger several months later.

Bill was then sent to the South Pacific for a two-year tour of duty as an Army warrant officer. But he kept his hand in journalism by publishing a camp newsletter.

He then returned to the U.S. and Gonzales, Texas, where Jerry was teaching home economics. Bill took a temporary job with the Gonzales Inquirer. A short time later, the Bergers purchased the Hondo Anvil Herald from retiring publisher Fletcher Davis. Their first issue of the Anvil Herald was dated June 7, 1946.

During the next 20 years, additional newspaper purchases by the Bergers included the Zavala County Sentlnal, Carrlzo Springs Javelin, Seguin Enterprise, Waelder Home Paper, Schert-Cibolo Valley News, Randolph AFB Wingspread and the Sabinal Times. They also took this time to have three children.

The Bergers have since sold all of their properties except the Hondo and Sabinal newspapers.

Bill has also had considerable experience in government service. In 1965, he was appointed to the Texas Water Rights Commission by Gov. John Connally. Following that service, he held subsequent jobs with the Water Quality Board, the State Insurance Commission and the Texas Railroad Commission.

But Bill continued to serve as publisher of the Anvil Herald during those 15 years of work with various state agencies. He also helped establish the weekly magazine supplement, the Texas Star during that time.

Meanwhile, Bill refuses to be retired. With his son, Ed, he now owns and operates Associated Texas Newspapers, Inc., an Austin-based newspaper brokerage and consulting firm.

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Jeanelle Bryant

This recipient of TPA's Golden 50 Award actually represents more than a century of service with Texas newspapers.

That's because Mrs. Donald B. (Jeanelle) Bryant was preceded in the receipt of this award by her husband, who was presented his own 50-year award back in 1982.

Jeanelle's entire newspaper career, in fact, has been associated with that of her husband, Donald B. Bryant. They're currently operating the Real County American in Leakey.

The Bryant association first commenced in Tom Bean, Texas, when 15-year-old Jeanelle asked the editor (Donald) of that town's newspaper, The Times, to talk to the school's newspaper staff about journalism. She was editor of her school newspaper at the time.

The years passed, and their acquaintance slowly blossomed from the publication in The Times of various articles by Jeanelle until New Year's Eve of 1935 when they had their first date. They joked later that he had kept her out for an entire year.

A few weeks later, they recall, she and The Times editor were going steady. Then 18 months later, on June 11, 1937, 50 years from this month, they were married.

Returning home from their honeymoon at the Pan American Exposition in Dallas, the Bryants commenced what has been their occupation ever since getting out a newspaper. Their first joint publishing venture was a 4-pager which was totally hand-set.

They've since worked for, owned and/or managed a number of Texas weeklies, semi-weeklies, and small and medium-sized dailies.

In addition to the Tom Bean Times (which they owned), newspapers along that journey have included the Alba Reporter, Mineola Monitor-Record, Leelland Herald Sun-News (which Donald helped convert to a semi-weekly and later, a small daily), Hamlin Herald, Rosenberg Herald-Coaster, Sinton Enterprise, Del Rio News-Herald, Seguin Enterprise, Seguin Gazette-Enterprise andfinally, the Real County American.

Each stop has been an incredible experience.

The Bryants had planned to retire on April 1, 1984. But the very next month, they went to Leakey to temporarily "run" the weekly American. This "running" is now in its fourth year.

Over the years, Jeanelle has done it all, from news and column writing, to composition, to running the presses. There was a time, in fact, that she handled the entire operation of the Sinton Enterprise for almost eight months after her husband suffered a broken arm.

But writing has been her principal responsibility, a chore she's done in the highest of newspaper traditions. She has covered plane, train and car crashes, hurricanes, police news, and politics along with the routine less dramatic but often more important news fronts.

And Jeanelle is good. In fact, her writing won a major first place South Texas Press Association award in 1984.

Says husband Donald: "She was and still is, my good right and left arm."

The Bryants are the parents of four children.

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William E. (Bill) Dozier

The illustrious career of one Golden 50 Award was hardly forecast 50 years ago when 13-year-old William E. (Bill) Dozier began as a printer's devil on his hometown newspaper in Delhi, La.

But when he became that newspaper's editor two years later, at the ripe old age of 15, the ultimate course of a successful journalistic career started falling into shape.

Bill attended college at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana, graduating cum laude. The next change of scenery occurred when he entered the Navy to serve as a communications officer during World War II. He served in the Pacific Theater.

Returning home, he then joined The Times-Picayune in New Orleans to serve, first, as a rewrite man and reporter, and later as state editor of community correspondents.

Next, it was back to the Armed Forces and active duty in Korea in the early 1950s.

Returning home after this second hitch, Bill next became editor of the Tyler Courier-Times-Telegraph, a position he held for 12 years. It was during those years that the community-strength side of Editor Bill first made itself known.

While in Tyler, he served as president and board member of such organizations as the YMCA, Youth Foundation, Red Cross and American Cancer Society. He was also a board member of the Marvin United Methodist Church.

In 1964, Bill and his wife, Eleanor, purchased the Kerrville Daily Times, as the first step in a soon-to-be multiple ownership of newspapers in the Hill Country. In addition to the Daily Times, newspapers now included in that ownership are Pearsall Leader, Cotulla Record, Dilley Herald, Boerne Star, Bandera Bulletin and Real County American.

Despite the task of operating these newspapers, Bill also finds time to actively serve such organizations as the Texas Press Association, Texas Daily Newspaper Association, Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and the American Newspaper Publishers Association. He is a past president of TPA and has served on the TDNA board of directors. He is currently serving his third term as president of TPA's Texas Newspaper Foundation.

Dozier's personal community service has spanned many areas, as ll., including such varied interests as a regional symphony association, the Red Cross, health associations, work with the Methodist Church, United Fund, a safety commission and the Tyler Rose Festival. He is a past president of the West Texas Chamber of Commerce.

Bill has received too many awards and honors from newspaper and civic groups alike to be listed. But, among the most meaningful to him have been the following:

· George Washington Medal of Honor for editorial writing;

· Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities;

· Outstanding Citizen for contributions made to Kerrville and the Hill Country area;

· 1984 Distinguished Friend of Schreiner College; and

· TDNA's Pat Taggart Award as the 1986 Texas Newspaper Leader of the Year.

Bill and his wife, Eleanor, have two daughters. Carolyn is assistant to the publisher of the Daily Times, and Rebecca is press secretary of the Senate Finance Committee in Washington, D.C.

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Nan Outlar

Nan Outlar has spent the past 50 years carrying on a love affair with her community of Wharton.

The stage for that half-century affair was actually set ten years before she took up pen and paper to begin the Wharton Journal's popular "Nan About Town" column. That occurred when Nan and her young doctor husband first moved to Wharton where he began his medical practice.

Nannie (Nan) Stafford Bennett has always been someone special, even back during her college years at The University of Texas at Austin. That's when she was named the university's "Bluebonnet Bell." Texas A&M, about the same time, appointed Nan as one of their "Vanity Fair" participants.

But along came a young doctor, Leonard Bolton, and the two were married in October 1927. They immediately journeyed to New Orleans for a year's stay before returning to his hometown of Wharton where he commenced practicing medicine.

It was then that Nan, who had family ties to the community, first began a lifetime dedication to betterment of the community. Those family ties date back to the owners of the Wharton newspaper in the early 1880s. Those owners, Dr. Stephen Foote and J.R. Foote, later sold the newspaper to Guy Mitchell in 1893.

A more recent, well-known cousin of Nan's was Horton Foote, the Wharton playwright who penned such works as "Baby The Rain Must Fall," "To Kill A Mockingbird," "Tender Mercies," "Trip to Bountiful" and numerous other hits.

Nan, herself, became an immediate smash hit in Wharton when she commenced writing "Nan About Town" in the Fall of 1937. Her college major was English; therefore, it was an easy task for Nan to combine that knowledge of letters along with an interest in people to produce her readership-compelling column.

The Journal-Spectator's Connie Mabry points out: "Nan's column is a 'must' for Wharton natives and newcomers alike. It is the hope of many to see their names appear in 'Nan About Town,' a signal that they have 'arrived,"

Nan makes this point: "People love to see their names in the paper, and I love to write about people. Can you think of any subject more interesting?"

Nan's column is not your standard "little old lady column," Connie said. For even though Nan is now in her 80s, she's "very hip on what is going on in this old world. She fears no subject, not even the Penthouse pictorial on Vanessa Williams back in August of 1984."

Connie concluded with this observation: "You haven't 'arrived' on the Wharton scene unless you've had your name in Nan's column. Last September, we held a reception for her and over 300 loyal readers made it by the newspaper between 5 and 6:30 p.m to pay homage. Many sent cards, brought remembrances and wanted their photo made with this great lady."

It's obvious that neither Nan, the community nor the newspaper regrets her decision back in 1937 to "put some of her thoughts about people on paper for everyone to read."

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Virginia Robey

Virginia Robey has two unique distinctions in joining the ranks of TPA's 50- year service award winners.

First, she has worked for one newspaper, the Wellington Leader, for the entire half century; and second, she has held the position of editor for that entire period.

Virginia, a native of Oklahoma, first came to Texas during the Depression to attend West Texas State Teachers College at Canyon. She majored in government and minored in pre-law.

Following her graduation, she taught in a rural primary school for one year. That's all the time it required for Virginia to discover that teaching youngsters wasn't exactly her "thing."

She subsequently jumped at the chance to work for and be trained in the newspaper business by the late Deskins Wells, publisher of the Wellington Leader. Her first and only title with the newspaper was, and continues to be, that of editor.

Wells, at that time, held another responsible job. He was serving as executive director of the Texas Press Association, a position he held until the arrival in Texas of the new TPA general manager Vern Sanford in 1947.

TPA was headquartered at Wells' newspaper in Wellington. He also served as publisher of the TPA Messenger and Virginia was the associate editor. She recalls that TPA and Texas Newspaper Publishers Association (now TDNA) held joint conventions during the years of World War II.

Virginia has covered, reported and edited every type of news story imaginable during her career with the Leader. She says the most dramatic change to come to the newspaper industry during her tenure has been the transition from hot type to cold type, and the age of lithography and offset printing.

When she first joined the Leader, most newspapers in the small to medium size communities wre printed on a sheetfed Miehle flatbed press or on an 8-page duplex. Today, the Leader is printed at a central offset plant owned by the Childress Index.

Virginia has also more than earned her stripes as a community leader. She has worked tirelessly with all local organizations and is a past president of the chamber of commerce. She remains a member of the Collingsworth General Hospital Auxiliary.

Henry Wells, son of Deskins and current publisher of The Leader, says: "Virginia has probably covered more board meetings of every description than anyone could possibly imagine. She's a walking book of records, an encyclopedia of city and county history.

"A former mayor once told me that 'this city couldn't possibly do without your editor.' She knows more about past meetings than even our records reveal. She's the authority to whom we go for the real information."

Besides editing the Leader, Virginia also writes the very popular "I Saw" column for the newspaper.

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Thomas R. (Dick) Stagg

Publishing four weekly newspapers during World War II provided the proof that Thomas R. (Dick) Stagg did indeed have "ink in his veins."

And in case you wonder why, then just consider the conditions under which Dick produced a quartet of weeklies:

· His father had died in October, 1941.

· His older brother, Gilpin, had joined the Navy.

· His sister, Elynor, was away at college.

· And most of the employees, including two printers, had joined the Armed Forces to fight the Axis powers.

So Dick and his mother were left with the job of reporter, editor, ad seller, compositor, printer and distributor for those four newspapers in Thomson, Illinois. But Dick had a rich background of experience to do just that... and then some.

While still in grade school, for example, he worked in the backshop doing such things as melting the lead for the Linotypes and casting boxes of hot type production. He also ran the folding machine and even carried the 120-pound finished pages in steel chases to the press for printing. During those years, he became quite familiar with the long hours that are so traditional with publishing, having spent many a Wednesday working all night long to "get the papers out by Thursday morning deadline time."

After World II, Dick's brother, Gilpin, returned to the plant. This allowed Dick to enroll as a journalism student at the University of Missouri. However, that education was interrupted after three years when he was drafted by the Army during the Berlin Airlift. Two years later, Dick was discharged and returned to the family-run newspapers.

The family finally sold these newspapers in 1967, and Dick came to Texas to buy The Crane News from L.C. Welch. He operated The News until January of this year, when he retired.

In the true tradition of all "retired" newspapermen, Dick still keeps his hands in the operation.

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J.L. (Mike) Werst Jr.

J.L. (Mike) Werst Jr. could have claimed his TPA Golden Award for 50 years of newspaper service nine years ago.

That's because this member of the three-generation newspaper Werst family actually started working in a printing plant in Temple in the summer of 1928. The plant, co-owned by his father, J. Lee Werst, was the Central Texas Publishing Co.

But Mike's first regular full-time newspaper job started in 1933 when he became a proofreader for the Temple Morning News. He was attending Temple Junior College at the time. The proofreading job lasted until 1935 when the News was sold to the Temple Daily Telegram.

Following his college years, Mike moved to Dallas to work for the Texas Typesetting Co. for a short period of time.

The next few years saw him taking a journeyman's course in community journalism as he worked his way up the ladder on a variety of newspapers before holding the reins as publisher.

Those moves, which were almost traditional for newsmen and printers during the earlier, lean years of newspapering, saw Mike:

· Move to Hondo in 1938 to work for Fletcher Davis at the Hondo Anvil-Herald;

· Move to Thorndale in 1941 to publish the Champion for V.F. Norris;

· Move to Taylor in 1942 to work for the Taylor Times, which at the time was a wekly owned by Don Scarbrough;

. Move to San Angelo in 1943 to work for the Standard-Times, and finally,

· In November 1945, together with is wife Maurine, purchase the Mertzon Weekly Star from L. L. McFall.

Mike continued working several days a week for the Standard-Times while he operated the Star. On May 1, 1947, Mike and Maurine leased the Big Lake Wildcat from Mr. and Mrs. M.A. Wilson.

They continued operating both newspapers until mid 1947 when they sold the Star back to the McFalls.

Meanwhile, the lease on the Wildcat continued until 1953 when the Wersts purchased the newspaper from Mrs. Wilson following her husband's death. They continued operating the Wildcat together until their son, third newspaper generation David, returned to Big Lake.

Maurine has since retired, but Mike still remains active as publisher of the newspaper.

Mike's career has extended far beyond his own newspaper publishing activities, a statement made obvious by his record of outside professional and civic work.

A past president of the West Texas Press Association, Mike also has been a director and committee member of TPA. He is a long-time member of the Fort Worth Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Delta Chi.

Mike's civic work has included an 18-year directorship and 10-year presidency of the Reagan Hospital Board. He served as chairman of the Big Lake Sesquicentennial coordinating committee, the Reagan County Historical Commission and the Big Lake Salvation Army Service Unit. He has chaired the latter for the past 18 years.

He served as past president and zone chairman three different times for the local Lions Club. He is now serving his 11th year as secretary of that organization. Mike's other memberships include the First Presbyterian Church and the Big Lake Masonic Lodge.

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