TPA 1978-79 President Fred Barbee Dies

TPA's 1978-79 president Fred Barbee dies

Friday, 05 October 2007

Fred Vincent Barbee Jr., 78, Texas Press Association’s 101st president, died Oct. 2, 2007, in El Campo.

He was president of TPA in 1978-79. At the time of his death Barbee was publisher of the El Campo Leader-News, Wharton Journal Spectator and East Bernard Express.
Barbee was born Oct. 28, 1928, in Cleburne to Fred V. and Berdye Hoffman Barbee. He graduated from Brownwood High School.

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; Barbee’s father was mechanical superintendent at the Bulletin until his death in 1963.

Barbee entered the University of Texas Austin and was hired as senior apprentice at the University Press in 1946, but by 1949 was a journeyman printer working nights and going to school in the daytime.

In 1950 he received his BBA from UT and he married Eleanor McColl. She was the woman’s editor of the El Campo Leader-News and worked with him side by side at various newspapers and radio stations until her death in 1980. She was a 1949 UT graduate.

After graduating from college, Barbee was hired by C.C. Woodson, publisher of the Brownwood Bulletin and other newspapers, to work in advertising at his Miami (Okla.) News-Record.

At age 23 he moved to Lamesa and became the youngest publisher of a Texas daily newspaper, the Lamesa Daily Reporter, known at the time. He held the position in Lamesa until 1957.

In 1957 C.C. Woodson and Barbee purchased the Seminole Sentinel and radio station KSML, later renamed KTFO, from 1957-68. Barbee published the Sentinel for 11 years.

In 1968, Barbee and his wife, and Woodson, partnered with Barbee’s college roommate, Dick Elam, to purchase the El Campo Leader-News and radio station KULP.

They later purchased the Wharton Journal-Spectator in December 1976, the Edna Herald and the Ganado Tribune. They sold the latter two in 1982.

Barbee received TPA’s Golden 50 Award in 1991. He served as president of West Texas Press Association (1967-68), Texas Gulf Coast Press Association (1975-76) and South Texas Press Association (1985-86).

Serving his alma mater, he joined the Advisory Council of the College of Communication Foundation at UT-Austin from 1980-87 (with a one year hiatus) and served as chairman in 1984-85.

In community service, he served several years on the governing board of El Campo Memorial Hospital as secretary, had 38 years perfect attendance and the Paul Harris Fellow Award of the El Campo Rotary Club, was a director of the Wharton County Historical Museum and volunteered for several other local boards.

He was named El Campo’s Citizen of the Year in 1991.

Barbee is survived by his wife of 26 years, Peggy Barbee of El Campo; sons and daughters-in-law, Chris Barbee, general manager of the El Campo Leader-News, and wife Carol of El Campo; David Barbee and wife Kathy of Houston; daughter and son-in-law, Karon Barbee and Larren Elliott of Dripping Springs; step-daughter, Kelly Porterfield of Austin; grandchildren, Jonathan and Julie Barbee of Houston and Ashley and Airen Targonski of Dripping Springs.