Golden 50 — 2003

2003 Recipients

124th Summer Convention, Friday, June 20, 2003, League City

Billie Bouldin, Normangee Star
Fred C. Latcham, Beeville Bee-Picayune
Burnis Lawrence, Alpine Avalanche

Billie Bouldin, Normangee Star

They called her the “fastest Linotype operator in Texas,” and she probably was, and she came by her involvement in the newspaper business naturally.

Billie was born and raised in Mexia and decided that she wanted to be a newspaper reporter when her fourth grade teacher had her bring in articles as part of an assignment. She married Bill Moss in 1945, just before he was released from active duty following World War II. He had already been in the business, working for the Mexia Daily News, and went back to work at the Daily News following his discharge. After a stint with an oil company, he returned to the newspaper business with the Livingston Enterprise, then he and Billie moved to Normangee and went to work for Bill and Billie Perkins, who owned the Normangee Star.

The Mosses bought the Star from the Perkins in 1953, and the newspaper has remained in the Moss family since then. Billie recalls that copy was set on the Linotype — her job — and most of the ads and headlines were hand set. The paper was printed on a huge flat-bed, hand-fed — Bill’s job — 1896 Babcock press. A hand-fed — again Billie’s job — folder was also part of the operation. At one time, Bill and Billie edited and printed the Normangee Star and printed newspapers from Teague, Diboll, Marquez, North Zulch, and Hilltop Lakes. Billie said that the old press would have problems almost every week, and they relied on the skill and dedication of the local blacksmith to keep it running.

The Normangee Star has been in continuous operation since it was founded in 1912. It missed only one issue since the Moss family purchased it, and that was when a tornado destroyed much of downtown Normangee, including the newspaper office, in 1984. The paper has slowly modernized and now serves not only Normangee but the communities of Flynn and Marquez and the retirement community of Hilltop Lakes.

 Bill and Billie added a real estate office to their business enterprise in 1960 and operated both for many years. Bill died in 1987, and Billie remains a full-time owner of both businesses. She handed over the day-to-­day operation of the newspaper to a managing editor in 1990 but still lists herself as owner-publisher in the paper’s masthead.

Billie has been an active participant in her community, having served as president of the Chamber of Commerce. She has been a member of the Eastern Star for over 50 years and served as Worthy Matron. She has also performed many duties in the First Baptist Church since moving to Normangee.

Billie’s work now is devoted mostly to her real estate business. She is a Graduate Master Broker. She married Everett Bouldin in 1997. Everett worked for the Houston Chronicle for over 30 years and was at one time state circulation manager.

In 2001, the Rogers Prairie Masonic Lodge presented Billie with its annual Community Builders Award, recognizing her many years of devotion to the Normangee area.

The Mosses had four children, three sons and a daughter. One son is deceased. They have nine grandchildren, one deceased, and five great-grandchildren.

Billie has spent most of her adult life in the newspaper business. She is proud of her accomplishments. She is thankful for the support she has received from her community and the assistance from other newspapermen and women over the years. She is honored to receive the Texas Press Association’s Golden 50 Award.

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Fred C. Latcham, Beeville Bee-Picayune

Fred C. Latcham Jr. was born in 1917 to Fred and Louise Latcham of Denver, Colo. He grew up in Denver, but spent as much time as possible in the mountains, hiking and camping with friends. After graduating from East Denver High School, he enrolled at Colorado University in Boulder, where he majored in finance.

After graduating from CU, he entered the Army where he was commissioned a second lieutenant and began training with artillery. The war in Europe ended before Latcham had finished his training stateside, but he was sent to Italy in the Army of Occupation. After completing his service and an honorable discharge, Latcham hired on with Brown & Root, running a survey crew laying pipelines across the nation.

While in the Army, the second lieutenant took an occupational aptitude test that found him fit for any job other than an author or editor. (Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?) When his Brown & Root pipeline crew took up residence in Beeville, Texas, Latcham was introduced to a young lady through some bridge-playing friends. He quickly took to Joyce Atkins, daughter of George Atkins, publisher of the Beeville Bee-Picayune. Long story short, they were married and he went to work for the newspaper in 1953, learning the trade as he went.

He eventually took on the role of publisher when George Atkins died in 1959.

His proudest accomplishment at the paper bears witness to the high calling of community journalism. One afternoon, a mother of five walked in to the offices to buy a newspaper and lamented to Latcham about the high cost of education and how difficult it would be to send all her children off to college. Touched by her predicament, he wrote an editorial on the need for a junior college in Beeville. The Bee County Chamber of Commerce thought that was a fine idea and put Latcham in charge of a committee to explore it.

When all was said and done, Bee County College was born with Latcham serving as the founding chairman of the board of trustees from 1965-1978. Recently renamed Coastal Bend College to more reflect its service area, the school now serves an enrollment in excess of 3,000 with campuses in Beeville, Kingsville, Alice and Pleasanton. The academic building on the main campus is now named the Fred C. Latcham Building in his honor.

At age 85 and widowed, Latcham still goes to work every day he is able, with a driver bringing him to town in the morning and again in the afternoon. His sons, Chip, 48, and Jeff, 45, now work as co-publishers of the Bee-Picayune and its sister newspaper, The Progress, in George West and Three Rivers.

Most days still find Latcham at his desk, going through the day’s mail, signing checks and generally making sure “the boys don’t get into trouble.”

And, across from his desk, hanging on the wall is an aerial photograph of Coastal Bend College’s main campus... testimony to the important work we do as community journalists.

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Burnis Lawrence, Alpine Avalanche

Former Alpine Avalanche publisher Burnis Lawrence received the South Texas Press Association’s highest honor on April 25 with the Chester Evans Award. He was presented the award by Hondo Anvil-Herald editor and longtime friend Frances Guinn.

A retired publisher, Lawrence was president of STPA in 1977-78 and has worked for newspapers across the state.

Lawrence’s journalism career began in 1948, when an instructor and a couple of his friends at Stephen F. Austin State University forged his signature on a letter of application for the position of editor of the college publication, the Pine Log. When the president called Lawrence to congratulate him on the appointment, he was surprised but accepted to show his friends he could do the job.

In 1950 he was hired by Charles Guy, publisher of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal. Then in 1951 he became editor of the Post Dispatch, where he remained until 1953. After a short stint with the Pecos Enterprise, the Air Force recalled him and, while stationed at Connaly Air Force Base in Waco, Lawrence worked nights at the Waco Tribune.

After orders sent him to Shepherds Air Field in England in 1956, he edited the base newspaper there. In 1958, now out of the Air Force, Lawrence worked at the Beeville Bee Picayune.

A group of businessmen convinced him to start up a newspaper in Refugio, and in 1959, the County Press was born. From there, in 1962 Lawrence worked with publisher Ward Lowe at the Lampasas Dispatch.

Although he spent some time with Vern Sanford at the Texas Press Association in 1963, the lure of the road enticed Lawrence to Weslaco in 1964, where he edited the Weslaco News; then, in 1965, he hired on with Otha Grisham at the Seguin Enterprise as editor.

From 1970 to 1981, Lawrence stayed with Bill Berger and the Hondo Anvil Herald, then moved to the Mathis News where he was editor until 1983.

In 1986 Lawrence purchased the Crosby County News from Jim Reynolds, and in 1995 he took on the publisher’s job at the Alpine Avalanche, remaining there until his retirement in October 1998. He still writes his “Dear Boss” column for the Avalanche.

Lawrence is a World War II veteran, serving in the Army-Air Corps as a P-38 aircraft mechanic. He celebrated V-E Day in London in front of Buckingham Palace.

He was recalled to the Air Force in 1953, and remained in the military until 1957. In the Air Force reserves until 1981, he retired as a full bird colonel.

Lawrence has a degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, and earned his four-year diploma in five semesters.

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