2007-08 Phil Major Clay County Leader

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philmajorPhil Major, publisher of the Clay County Leader, was elected president of Texas Press Association June 23, 2007, at the group's 128th Summer Convention in San Antonio.

Major succeeds Marshall Day, publisher of The Gatesville Messenger, who became chairman of the board. Other new officers include Roy Robinson, publisher of The Graham Leader, as first vice president; Terry Collier, publisher of the Fredericksburg Standard Radio Post, as second vice president; and Bob Brincefield, publisher of the Brownwood Bulletin, as treasurer.

Major began his newspaper career officially as the coeditor of the Coin and Stamp newsletter in Mrs. Melton's fifth grade class at Newton Rayzor Elementary in Denton, which was printed on a mimeograph. He handled the stamp side of the operation.

He threw a route for his hometown Denton Record-Chronicle in his neighborhood in 1968-69. In his senior year of high school he served as news editor of the Horseshoe, monthly student newspaper for Denton High School.

After graduating with a bachelor of arts in history at the University of Texas in 1977, he took a job as a general assignments reporter at the Bowie News in 1978 and advanced to news editor.

He met his wife Lesa while working at The News and they married in 1980. He joined the Wise County Messenger as sports editor in 1981 and became the editor in 1985. The Messenger won its first TPA sweepstakes in the Better Newspaper Contest in 1984.

While in Wise County Major was the secretary for the Wise County Planning and Steering Committee and editor of the Lions Din, weekly newsletter of the Decatur Lions Club.

He went to work as managing editor for the daily Alice Echo-News in 1991 and joined the Times Record in Lake Worth-Saginaw in 1992.

He was managing editor for Today Newspapers in Duncanville and DeSoto from 1993 to 1995, overseeing a news operation for five weeklies including Cedar Hill, Lancaster and Midlothian. Today received its first TPA sweepstakes award in 1995.

While in Duncanville Major served on the board of Leadership Southwest and the Duncanville Independent School District discipline and strategic planning committees.

The Majors purchased the weekly Clay County Leader in Henrietta in July 1995 from Bill and JoAnn Glassford and Brenda Simmons. The Leader has earned several regional newspaper contest awards and five TPA first place awards. Lesa is the business manager and also designs ads.

In 2009 they bought the Wise County Messenger from Roy and Jeannine Eaton.

Major has served as president of the Henrietta Kiwanis Club, the Henrietta and Clay County Chamber of Commerce and the North and East Texas Press Association.

He has served on the District Advisory Team of the Henrietta ISD and the board of the Clay County Extension Service.

The NETPA honored Major with its highest awards, the Sam Holloway award in 2001 and the Tom Mooney Friend of Newspapers award in 2003.

He has also served as NETPA scholarship chairman and finance chairman. He has served on the board of directors of the West Texas Press Association and is serving his third term on the board of the Texas Newspaper Foundation as its vice chairman.

He has served two terms as an appointed director and two terms as an elected director of TPA and has chaired TPA's newspaper contest committee and served on news clinic and convention committees.

In 2004 he assisted the National Newspaper Association with the development of new requirements for the Boy Scout journalism merit badge. He is the Henrietta Kiwanis Club's charter organization representative for the local Boy Scouts and served several years as the Kiwanis Club summer baseball program's t-ball coordinator.

The Majors have one son, Sam, who works at the Leader as well. They are active in the First United Methodist Church of Henrietta.