GROOM – Donna Burton, publisher of the Groom-McLean-Lefors News, died April 9. She was 61.
She was a member of the Texas Press Association and served as editor of the Groom News from 1990 to 2009, when she became the publisher and owner of the paper.
A native of the area, she was active with the Girl Scouts as a local troop leader and council president. She also worked with youth as part of the Catholic Christian Mothers group.
She is survived by two daughters, three grandchildren, and other relatives.
Funeral mass was held April 10 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. Burial followed at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Groom.
Memorials may be made to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Building Fund, 411 Ware Ave., Groom, Texas 79039.
James Claude Wilkerson III
COMANCHE – James Claude Wilkerson, III, editor and publisher of the Comanche Chief, died March 15. He was 73.
Following graduation from the University of Texas in 1967, he started his career as a sales representative for KNOW Radio in Austin before returning home to Comanche County to co-publish the De Leon Free Press.
He then returned to the family-owned newspaper, The Comanche Chief, in 1972 where he was publisher and editor for more than 40 years.
Wilkerson was active in the Noon Lions Club, Comanche Chamber of Commerce, Comanche Youth Council sports association, Men’s Golf Association at PAR Country Club, Comanche County Livestock Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and the First United Methodist Church.
He was an avid sports fan whose blood ran University of Texas burnt orange and Comanche black and gold.
He covered Comanche school sports for decades and his stats were a resource for local coaches.
In addition to the newspaper, he and his wife Nancy ran the family Newburg ranch and vineyard, raising registered Angus cattle and many varieties of grapes for Brennan Vineyards, in which he was a stockholder.
In 2000, he was featured in a cover story, “Doing Business in Small-Town Texas,” in the University of Texas Business School magazine.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children, six grandchildren and many other relatives.
Funeral services were held March 18 at the First United Methodist Church in Comanche. Burial followed in the Newburg Cemetery in Comanche County.
Memorials may be made to Comanche Noon Lions Club, 401 Sutton Drive, Comanche, TX 76442; Comanche Youth Council P.O. Box 153 Comanche, TX 76442; Revitalize Comanche, Inc. P.O. Box 88 Comanche, TX 76442; First United Methodist Church of Comanche or the Comanche Public Library.
Mary Elizabeth Woodward Pillsworth
Mary Elizabeth Woodward Pillsworth, author of the Dallas Morning News’ first account of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, died April 11 her daughter’s home in Fullerton, Calif., where she had lived for about a year. She was 77.
No funeral services were announced.
A young staffer at The News in 1963, Pillsworth and three of her coworkers were on their lunch break when they went to see the Kennedy motorcade. They were standing in front of the Texas School Book Depository, watching the president and first lady from just feet away when the shots were fired.
Although at the time she was an entry-level staff member who handled wedding announcements, editors had her write an account of the events, which was published in the newspaper’s first edition.
A native of San Angelo and active in politics as a teenager, she was a delegate to the 1960 Democratic National Convention when Kennedy was nominated.
Her first hard-news experience in that entry-level position with The News came just a few weeks after she finished college. She helped cover the July 24, 1961 hijacking of an Eastern Airlines flight from Miami to Dallas that was forced to land in Cuba. The only Spanish speaker in the newsroom, she was assigned to try to call Fidel Castro for a statement.
Pillsworth worked for The News until she joined the Peace Corps in 1964. While serving in Brazil, she met her husband Phillip. They married in 1967.
The couple lived for 30 years in Niskayuna, N.Y., where she worked for The Knickerbocker News in Albany as a feature writer and copy editor. Later, she was a curriculum development specialist for the New York State Education Department.
In addition to her husband, survivors include two children and two grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to the Clinton Foundation, the Obama Foundation, Emily’s List, International Animal Rescue, American Diabetes Association or the Humane Society of the United States.