The following obituaries were published in the March 2019 edition of the Texas Press Messenger.
MURRAY HILL, N.L. – Charles Cooper, a former editor who oversaw the Houston Post newsroom and others, died Jan. 19 from complications following heart surgery. He was 76.
After growing up in Midland, Cooper began his newspaper career while serving in the Army, which he joined before graduating high school. He served overseas during more than six years of duty, first working as a sportswriter for the newspaper of the 3rd Armored Division, which was stationed in West Germany for most of the Cold War. Later, he worked for the European Stars and Stripes, the U.S. military newspaper.
After his tours, Cooper remained for a time in Europe. He wrote for the Overseas Media Group in Germany, then worked as a freelance writer in Spain.
Upon returning stateside, Cooper attended the University of San Francisco and began a string of newspaper jobs that would take him across the country.
He worked for 14 years at the San Francisco Examiner, serving in news and sports editorships.
He returned to Texas to become managing editor and later editor of The Houston Post, and managing editor of the Dallas Times Herald.
After several years in Texas, he returned to the Bay Area, where he was editor of The Daily Review in Hayward, Calif., as well as managing editor for production for other newspapers in the Alameda Newspaper Group.
In the late 1990s until his retirement in 2009, he served as managing editor of the Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey. During his tenure, the state’s oldest newspaper earned three Pulitzer Prizes.
In retirement, Cooper and his wife Mercedes settled in Murray Hill, New Jersey. He wrote book reviews for The Star-Ledger and also worked as a media training consultant at Northrop Grumman.
A memorial service is planned later this year.
Eugene Coleman Sr.
SAN ANTONIO – Eugene Coleman Sr., co-founder of SNAP, one of San Antonio’s longest-running weekly newspapers, died Jan. 23. He was 97.
A native of Ennis, Coleman learned about photography while a teenager in the mid-1930s, working for a studio in exchange for lessons. In the early 1940s, while serving in the Army Air Corps, he was assigned to the Brooks Field Observer as a photographer, a move that led to a career in journalism for more than 60 years.
Coleman co-founded SNAP with San Antonio East Side leaders the late Rev. Claude Black and G.J. Sutton to chronicle the achievements of the African-American community, often overlooked by the city’s mainstream media during the 1950s and ’60s.
SNAP’s first issue was printed in 1949. Over the years, the weekly was published as a magazine and a newspaper. Coleman became known for publishing the work of up-and-coming Latino and black journalists; he gave many their first start in the business.
He was also considered a mentor in his community, working to bring about change in the turbulent civil rights period.
After he sold the paper in 2009, he continued to support political candidates and speak out on issues.
He is survived by his son, Eugene Coleman Jr., and other relatives.
Funeral services were held Feb. 6 in San Antonio.
SAN ANTONIO – Miguel Castro, 40, former sports editor of The Brownsville Herald and San Antonio Express-News, died Feb. 12 following a two-year battle with cancer.
A native of San Antonio, Castro was a 1996 graduate of San Antonio Christian Schools and a 2001 journalism graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.
He joined The Brownsville Herald in 2002 as a sports writer and was promoted to sports editor a few years later. Castro left The Herald in 2008 and returned to San Antonio to work in the Express-News sports department before becoming an editor at Educational Testing Service.
He was a volleyball fan and promoter of community volleyball leagues.
Castro is survived by his wife of 16 years, Camila, their daughter, and many other relatives.
A memorial service was held Feb. 16 at Mission Park Funeral Chapels North.
John Scott Thompson Sr.
ALEDO – Veteran outdoors writer John Scott Thompson Sr., 81, of Aledo died Feb. 19.
A native of Brownwood, Thompson served in the U.S. Navy and began his outdoors writing career in 1960. He was an outdoor columnist for more than 50 years with stints at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Angelo Standard-Times, the Beaumont Enterprise and Texas Outdoor Writers Association.
He was the TOWA president from 1963-64 and again in 1973.
He was honored in 2010 with the L.A. Wilke Award, the organization’s highest honor, and was also named a life member of the organization, which he joined in 1959. Thompson was one of a handful of TOWA members from the early days who remained active in the organization.
In 1978 he and his wife, Joyce, started their business, Thompson Tree and Exterminating Inc., of Aledo, and operated the business until retirement in 2005.
He was a member at Northside Baptist Church of Weatherford.
In addition to his wife of almost 50 years, Joyce, he is survived by four children, 11 grandchildren and other relatives.
Memorial donations may be made to the Center of Hope in Weatherford.
Services will be held at a later date under the direction of Galbreaith Pickard Funeral Chapel.
Barbara Ann Zavodny
BAYTOWN – Barbara Ann Zavodny, 74, longtime employee of the Baytown Sun, died Feb. 7.
A graduate of Lee High School in Baytown, Zavodny attended Lee College before she began her professional career in 1967 with The Baytown Sun.
She worked her entire career for the newspaper and its parent company Southern Newspapers Inc., retiring in 2012.
She was a loyal and dedicated employee for 45 years and was highly regarded by her peers, said Dolph Tillotson, president of Southern Newspapers.
Zavodny was a former member of Rho Zeta chapter of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and a member of a barbecue cookoff team. She enjoyed fishing and rose gardening.
Preceded in death by her husband, Gordon W. Zavodny, she is survived by four children, four grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Services were held Feb. 11 at Navarre Funeral Home in Baytown.
Memorials may be donations to Cedar Bayou Grace Day School for Little People Scholarship Fund; 2714 Ferry Rd. Baytown, Texas 77520.