Golden 50 — 1991

1991 Recipient

112th Summer Convention, June 28, 1991, Marriott Bayfront Hotel, Corpus Christi

Fred V. Barbee Jr.

Fred V. Barbee Jr. is a newspaper man. Always has been. Always will be. He's definitely got ink in his blood, and it is tinted burnt orange.

Fred's entry into newspapering was a textbook example. He started out by throwing them. First the morning editions of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and later in the day, his hometown newspaper, the Brownwood Bulletin. This was in 1940 when Fred was 12. And he was hooked. In no time at all, he was promoted to printer's devil and janitor at the Bulletin. That was when he was 13. It was genetics; Fred's father was mechanical superintendent at the Bulletin until his death in 1963.

After finishing schools in Brownwood, this young printer's devil earned his BBA from The University of Texas at Austin in 1951. During his senior year, Fred managed to marry Eleanor McColl of Brownwood who worked with him side by side at various newspapers and radio stations until her death in 1980.

While at the university, Fred worked his way through school as a printer at the University Press printing the Daily Texan five nights a week. That's where the orange mixed with the printer's ink.

Fred left Austin in 1952 to work in the advertising department of the Miami (Okla.) News-Record. And his talent was already shining. Earlier, his work had caught the eye of C.C. Woodson, an old friend from Brownwood, who told the young man to go west to publish the six-day Lamesa Daily Reporter. Fred was 23, and already an 11 year veteran in the newspaper business. And he must have done a pretty good job because he held the position in Lamesa until 1957.

From 1957 to 1968 he was publisher and co-owner with C.C. Woodson of the Seminole Sentinel and co-owner and operator of radio station KTFO in Seminole from 1960 to 1968.

Since 1968, you can see Fred's tracks lots of places: partnership with UT roommate Dick Elam in properties in El Campo and nearby environs. That includes president and co-owner of Bar-B Broadcasting in El Campo; president and publisher and co-owner of the El Campo Leader-News; publisher and co-owner of the Wharton Journal-Spectator; former co-owner of the Edna Herald and Ganado Tribune until they were sold in 1982.

That's a busy professional life. But Fred also has found time to give something back to the profession that chose him. He has been active in many professional associations, serving as president of most, including the Texas Press Association, the West Texas Press Association, the South Texas Press Association, the Gulf Coast Press Association and an active member of both the National Newspaper Association and the American Newspaper Publishers Association.

Throughout his career, Fred has found time for his alma mater and has lent his time and talent toward helping future newspaper men and men. He has served on the Advisory Council of the College of Communication Foundation at UT-Austin since 1980 (with a one year hiatus) and served as chairman in 1984-85.

At home in El Campo, he's been busy with a host of civic organizations: past president of the Rotary Club and is a Paul Harris awardee with 22 years of perfect attendance; served as board member of the El Campo Chamber of Commerce; currently serves on the board of the El Campo Economic Development Corporation, the Wharton County Historical Museum and the Memorial Hospital in El Campo.

In 1981, Fred married Peggy Porterfield, a lady he describes then and now as his best friend.

Fred has four children. And not surprisingly, each is a Longhorn graduate:

Chris Barbee is managing editor of the El Campo Leader-News and a third generation newspaperman; David Barbee is a senior buying executive with Foley's Department Stores in Houston; Karon Barbee, a CPA, is chief financial officer for Texas United Petroleum in Dallas; and Kelly Porterfield is in computer publications in the Department of Afro-American Studies at UT-Austin.

Plus, there are two grandchildren, gifts of Chris and Carol: Jonathan is 10 and Julie Ann is 7.

There you have it. A portrait of a Texas newspaper family. Good folks. Good friends. Good just to be around. Congratulations, Fred.