Florentino ‘Tino’ Duran
Florentino ‘Tino’ Duran of San Antonio, owner, former publisher and CEO of the bilingual biweekly newspaper La Prensa, died Sunday, June 25.
Born in 1934, Duran grew up “a tough Alazan Apache Courts kid,” according to a Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame biography. After graduating from Lanier High School, he served in the U.S. Air Force before returning home to attend San Antonio College. There, he worked on the school paper, The Ranger, and eventually earned his bachelor’s in political science and master’s in public administration from St. Mary’s University.
In the mid-1980s, he became general manager of El Sol de Tejas in Dallas, and then president and CEO of El Informador Hispano in Fort Worth. In 1989, he returned to San Antonio and resurrected La Prensa.
Established in 1913, La Prensa De San Antonio is a historic, independently owned bilingual newspaper and online publication. It was the first bilingual publication in the state of Texas.
His family said his vision for La Prensa was “to inspire, to educate, and to inform San Antonio. That is our purpose. If we do that, then we will have a job well done.”
Duran and his wife and co-publisher Amelia “Millie” Duran established La Prensa Foundation in 1995 to provide students with financial assistance for college. According to the its website, the Foundation has provided more than $2 million in scholarships for more than 200 students to attend colleges in the Alamo Community Colleges District, St. Mary’s University, University of Texas at San Antonio, University of the Incarnate Word, and other institutions throughout the state.
Recipients of those scholarships were among the readers and many friends expressing condolences after the newspaper announced Duran’s passing on the newspaper’s Facebook page.
In addition to his wife of 62 years, he is survived by children Tino Jr., David, Steve, Margie, and Nina, 13 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were held July 6 at the Chapel at Porter Loring. Burial followed at Fort Sam Houston.
In lieu of flowers, the family invites donations to a scholarship that will be established in his name. More information is available at laprensafoundation.org or by calling the foundation at (210) 461-9800.
William C. “Bill” Thomas
William C. “Bill” Thomas, publisher of the San Antonio Light in the 1980s and a former executive of the Hearst Corp., was heavily involved in local philanthropy during his long career in the newspaper industry.
Thomas, 90, died at his home in Ariton, Alabama, June 15 after suffering from pneumonia.
He often attributed his success to a course he once took that taught the principles advanced in “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie — one of the first best-selling self-help books, initially published in 1936. The course taught ways to convey values such as honesty, enthusiasm and self-responsibility.
George B. Irish, who succeeded Thomas as publisher of the Light in 1988, said his skills and passion benefitted the newspaper and San Antonio.
“I had the good pleasure of succeeding Bill Thomas twice during my newspaper career and saw firsthand Bill’s marketing talent and his commitment to the communities he served,” said Irish, who now is eastern director of The Hearst Foundations in New York.
Born and reared in Chicago, Thomas joined the Navy during World War II and served stateside, then worked at newspapers in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Bristol, Tennessee, before coming to San Antonio.
Thomas joined Hearst in 1968 as retail advertising manager of the San Antonio Light. He was appointed publisher of the Midland Reporter-Telegram and Plainview Herald upon the company’s acquisition of those newspapers.
Thomas was publisher of the Light for six years. He then became senior associate publisher. He retired in 1991 and moved to Alabama.
He was a Mason for 65 years. He supported the Healy-Murphy Center, Boy Scouts, Confederate Air Force, National Conference of Christians, Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and other nonprofit organizations. A 1989 column in the Light noted that Thomas even participated in a bachelor auction — with his wife’s consent, of course — to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
He was preceded by his wife of 56 years, Jane Lasseter Thomas.
He is survived by his wife Janice Adkins Thomas, three daughters and three stepchildren.
Memorial service was held at Skipperville United Methodist Church in Skipperville, Alabama.
Joseph Frank Vyvjala
Schulenburg Sticker publisher emeritus Joseph Frank Vyvjala, the longest-serving publisher in the newspaper’s 123-year history, died June 1. He was 88.
Vyvjala began his career in the newspaper business in 1942, while attending Flatonia High School. He worked for T. F. Nycum at the Flatonia Argus and later in in Irving while attending college at the University of North Texas, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration with a minor in journalism. After a two-year stint in the Marine Corps, he got a job at the LaGrange Journal.
He moved to the Schulenburg Sticker in 1956 and, in 1959, he married Maxine Nikel. For 18 months, beginning in 1967, he and his wife leased the Sticker. In 1975, along with Maxine’s brother, Max Nikel Sr., they bought the newspaper. In 1984, the Vyvjalas became its sole owner. At 42 years, they have owned the Sticker longer than any of its previous 11 proprietors.
Vyvjala used a Linotype machine to set the paper for many years in the “hot metal” days. Pages of metal lines of type were locked into a “chase” and the 50-pound newspaper page forms had to be lifted into position to be printed on a letterpress. With the onset of the computer age in the late 1970s, he no longer worked on the newspaper but he worked endless hours in the job printing shop, most often with his radio cranked up to polka and waltz music.
In 1994, he received the Texas Press Association’s “Golden 50” award recognizing 50 years of service to the field of journalism. Also that year, the Schulenburg Chamber of Commerce recognized him for his contributions to the community.
Vyvjala retired from the newspaper business on his 65th birthday – Aug. 13, 1993. He continued to work in the print shop from time to time, and the newspaper remains in the Vyvjala family. Maxine Vyvjala serves as publisher although she has also retired, while their daughter, Diane Prause, is editor and their son, Darrell, is managing editor.
In 2014, the Vyvjalas received the Chester Evans Award from the South Texas Press Association for his long-time support of the organization.
Vyvjala was a member of the Knights of Columbus, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church and, later, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in High Hill. While serving in the Marine Corps from 1952-54, he spent seven months in Japan before returning home and served in the reserves until he was honorably discharged in 1960.
A native of Flatonia, he was born on Aug. 13, 1928, the son of August and Anastasie (Tupa) Vyvjala.
In addition to his wife and children, he is survived by three grandsons.
Funeral services were held June 8 at St. Rose Church.