Golden 50 — 2001

2001 Recipients

122nd Summer Convention, Friday, June 22, 2001, Hilton Camino Real, El Paso

J.W.. "Bill" Cooke, Rockdale Reporter
A.C. Kincheloe, Llano News
Gene Snyder, Denver City Press

J.W. "Bill" Cooke

J.W. Bill" Cooke, editor and publisher of The Rockdale Reporter since 1981, began his newspaper career very early in life by hand-feeding presses, sweeping the building, making deliveries and handling many other chores around the Reporter offices.

He is the third generation of his family to be involved with the newspaper, as it was purchased in 1911 by his grandfather, John Esten Cooke. His father, W.H. Cooke

joined the newspaper staff in 1930 and became publisher in 1936.

Bill Cooke is a 1959 graduate of the journalism department of North Texas State University

where he received the Outstanding Senior Journalism Award. He had worked through the years with his father on The Reporter and joined the Reporter as news editor in January 1959 after serving six months active duty in the National Guard. He was re-called into active duty with the 49th Armored Division during the Berlin Crisis where he served in the Public Information Office on the post newspaper at Fort Polk, La.

He and Peggy Adams Cooke were married in December, 1957 and they are the parents of four children, Kathy Cooke Phillips, Kyle W.  Cooke, Ken Esten Cooke and Kevin Adams Cooke. Peggy Cooke is a recent past president of the South Texas Press Association.

Bill Cooke returned to the Reporter in October 1962 and became editor and co-publisher in 1970. He became editor/publisher in 1981, purchasing his father's interest in the paper. A fourth generation, Ken Esten Cooke, joined the newspaper staff in 1995 and is involved with news coverage and web site and other tech responsibilities. Daughter Kathy Cooke Phillips also is employed in the advertising department.

Bill Cooke served as treasurer of the Texas Press Association and is a past director of the South Texas Press Association. He is past-president of the Rockdale Chamber of Commerce, served as a director of the Industrial Foundation, is newsletter editor for the local Rotary Club, is a past hospital board member and has been involved in many other civic duties in Rockdale. He is an active member of St. John's United Methodist Church and has served in various capacities for the church.

Through all four generations, the Rockdale Reporter has been a consistent winner in Texas Press Association and South Texas Press Association newspaper contests, winning "Best All Around" Awards at STPA for eight years.

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A.C. "Ace" Kincheloe

On June 17, 2001, A.C. "Ace" Kincheloe celebrated his 50th year as an employee of The Llano News.

Kincheloe started on that day in 1951 for then publisher the late Will Collins. His first assignment?

Print two boxes of #10 envelopes on a Snapper Press.

Kincheloe spent 40 years as a "printer" at the newspaper. He has spent the last 10 setting ads, working in composing and running the mail room.

An old Linotype machine, which still looms in the back of the newsroom, was Kincheloe's avocation and love. Even today, he remembers making the transfer to offset and sadly recalls retiring the letter press.

"It used to take us three days to print an eight-page paper," Kincheloe said. "Once, in 1956 on Llano's Centennial, we printed a 44-page paper. It took us three months to get it printed."

He recalled that time was running out and they were forced to take some of the pages to an eight-page press in Georgetown.

Over the years, Kincheloe has worked under six different publishers.

After Collins, publishers at the News included John Cordwell, Lewis Reddell, Hal Cunningham,Walter Buckner and finally Ken Wesner, the current publisher of The Llano News.

Kincheloe, 77, married Jo in 1948. They have two daughters, Beverly Inman (husband Valton) and Sandy Utterback (husband Gen. Chip Utterback), seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He served for 28 months active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps in Guadalcanal, Guam and Okinawa.

He is a past post commander of the VFW and is an active member in the Masonic Lodge. He is an active golfer and is a member of First Baptist Church in Llano.

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Gene Snyder

Gene Snyder, publisher of the Denver City Press, began his newspaper career in 1939, hand-spiking heads for his father's newspaper, the Cherokee Courier, in Cherokee, Iowa.

The one Linotype in the printing plant had only three magazines, with 8, 10, and 14 point mags, so any larger type than 14 point had to be hand set from the old California type cases.

Snyder graduated to the Linotype machine when he was 11, and when he was the ripe old age of 12, he was featured in the Linotype News, a publication of Mergenthaler Linotype Co., as one of the youngest Linotype operators in the country.

Snyder, whose grandfather was a pioneer newspaperman in Western Wisconsin at the turn of the 20th century, moved with his family to California in 1951, where the family purchased the Lodi Times. He continued his work as foreman of mechanical and photography departments after spending 18 months in Japan in the employ of Uncle Sam, until 1955.

The family sold the Times in 1955, and Snyder and his older brother, Cal, purchased the Denver City Press in Denver City, Texas. The brothers purchased the Morton Tribune in 1961, and Gene moved to Morton at that time as publisher of that newspaper.

Following Cal's death in 1963, Gene purchased his brother's interests in the two newspapers from Cal's widow, and became sole owner of both papers. He sold the Morton Tribune in 1968.

Snyder has served several terms as director of the West Texas Association and the Press has won numerous area and statewide awards as well as local honors for the newspaper's dedication to its community.

Snyder's daughter, Elizabeth Sanders, has joined him at the Denver City Press, and a granddaughter, Brenna, an eighth-grader, a fifth generation, is now learning composition at the Press.