First off, let me congratulate Mike Probst, publisher of the Rockport Pilot, for being honored with the 2020 Frank W. Mayborn Award for Community Leadership. Kudos also to this year’s Texas Newspaper Foundation Hall of Fame inductees and winners in the Texas Better Newspaper Contest. It’s great to be recognized for your newspaper’s hard work and for providing strong journalism for your community.
On a personal note, I’m honored to accept the gavel to lead the Texas Press Association, which for 140 years has championed the work of Texas journalists and the essential services they perform in their communities.
My service as an executive board member started with a nomination from former TPA President Glenn Rea. Since then my life journey has taken me down some rough roads.
My dad passed away in December 2016 after a battle with liver cancer. My brother-in-law passed away suddenly in May 2018. And then my husband, business partner and best friend was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in August 2018. Chad passed away Feb. 4, 2019, after 44 years of marriage and working side by side for 31 years.
There’s an old saying that “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Well, He is sure testing me.
Our staff, like most, is very small. Until last February it included my husband Chad, myself, our daughter London Ferguson Webb and Stacey Noska. We cover three counties. Each member of our staff wears many hats, and each knows just a little of each job in case someone needs help. Before his death, Chad was the editor/publisher, reporter, sportswriter, and helped with layout. I built ads and handled the bookkeeping. London laid out pages and handled typesetting, and Stacey sold advertising and helped with typesetting.
Our hard-working little world was turned upside down when Chad passed. London began to lay out all the pages and we went on the best we could, missing only one issue the week he passed.
Things went as well as possible until my world went topsy turvy again one month after Chad passed. It was the first day (Monday) of Spring Break. London had a major car accident and was life-flighted to Houston with fractures in her upper right arm, right ankle, left knee, both collar bones and her left hand.
London and her two daughters live with me, so there I was trying to make sure she was okay, taking care of my granddaughters and trying to get a newspaper to press by Wednesday.
Thankfully, my son, Chris Ferguson, and daughter-in-law Lina stepped in when needed and helped with the girls. I was left trying to produce a paper — including layout and other tasks I had never had to do by myself. Through a lot of tears, I finally got it to press that Friday, then delivered papers to three counties by myself Friday and Saturday.
London was released from the hospital a month later and was wheelchair bound until about June 2019.
The newspapers in my coverage area jumped in to help with whatever I needed without hesitation, if and when I asked.
To me, that just reinforced why we call our TPA colleagues “family.”
There is no way to ever fill Chad’s shoes, but I’m happy to report that things have gotten better.
Throughout my career, I have always been given jobs that I thought there was no way I could do, but with determination I have worked to prove to myself that all things are possible.
There are personality quizzes you can take on Facebook that tell you what you are like. Nine times out of 10, the results of those quizzes suggest I have a fighting spirit just like my Zodiac sign Taurus the bull, famous for stubbornness. For that reason, I decided my column would be called “Bebo the Bull.”
So it is my honor to represent this great association as your 2020 TPA President. With a Taurus’ bullheadedness, I plan to make my newspaper colleagues, past presidents and Chad (2011-12 TPA President) proud.
Thank you for your confidence in me.