Tillotson presented with Mayborn award for service

MONTGOMERY – Texas Press Association honored Dolph Tillotson with the Frank W. Mayborn Award for Community Leadership on June 17 during the Newspaper Leadership Retreat at La Torretta Lake Resort and Spa. 

The Mayborn Award is presented annually to a publisher or newspaper executive who has displayed outstanding and exemplary leadership to the community. The award comes with a $3,000 scholarship to a Texas college or university of Tillotson’s choice, to be used to further the education of a full-time student journalist. He chose the University of Houston.

Tillotson has been in the newspaper business since 1969. He worked as a general manager, publisher and president for Southern Newspapers Inc. and Boone Newspapers Inc.

“There is no one more deserving of the Frank Mayborn Award for Community Leadership than Dolph,” said Lissa Walls, CEO of Southern Newspapers. “He is an exceptional journalist, businessman and leader who put the good of the community served as his first priority. His SNI colleagues and I are proud for and of him.” 

He is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and a 1972 graduate of the University of Alabama. Tillotson lives in Galveston with his wife, Teri. He came to work for Southern in 1987 as publisher of The Galveston County Daily News. He was named president of SNI in March 2014.

Tillotson’s driving principle has always been rooted in serving the community. For the past three decades, he and his wife, Teri, have been active in too many civic, arts and charitable activities to recount.

“Dolph Tillotson is a rare breed in the newspaper industry,” said Daily News Publisher Leonard Woolsey, who nominated Tillotson for the award. “With an unyielding commitment to the powerful principles that make newspapers so important to their communities, he also is one who never hesitates to roll up his sleeves to help move our industry forward.”

No description of Tillotson’s career would be adequate without discussing The News’ role covering the tragedy of Hurricane Ike. The devastating 2008 storm took 195 lives and caused an estimated $25 billion in damages, forever disrupting the lives of countless Galveston residents. With many employees refusing to leave the island during and after the devastating storm, Tillotson led an effort that could only be described as historic. 

The staff at The Daily News worked feverishly around the clock to chronicle, communicate and help the community pull itself from the wreckage. Team members – often putting their own safety at risk – covered the heartbreaking saga in depth, with compassion, and with forward-looking insight. The Daily News took a strong leadership role in the community – passing out free newspapers, connecting people with services, and lending a helping hand wherever needed. It was, in many ways, one of the newspaper’s finest hours. 

Over his long career, Tillotson has also successfully served another community – the newspaper community. He has served as president of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and the Texas Daily Newspaper Association, and for many years he chaired the Texas Press Association’s critical Legislative Advisory Committee – helping set the tone for many years of successful battles on behalf of Texas newspapers and the communities they serve. 

The award was established in 1992 by Sue Mayborn, publisher of the Temple Daily Telegram and Killeen Daily Herald, to honor the commendable leadership and service demonstrated by her late husband, Frank W. Mayborn, for his community service and involvement throughout his career as a newspaper executive.

“I’m very honored by this award,” Tillotson said. “The Texas Press Association is one of the nation’s outstanding newspaper groups, so to be honored by so many of my peers means a great deal to me. Honestly, I believe there are many good people in our industry who deserve this award more than I do.”