Golden 50 — 1993

1993 Recipients

114th Summer Convention, June 25, 1993, Sheraton Fiesta Hotel, San Antonio

Bill C. Foster, Waco Citizen
Alma Lee Holman, Taylor Daily Press
Wilma Petrusek, Sealy News
Grace and James R. "Buddy" Yoder, Weimar Mercury  

Bill C. Foster

When Bill Foster was 11 years old, he decided it was time to make a career decision: He liked photography, but the newspaper business intrigued him, too. His father, the late W.S. "Bill" Foster, began newspapering in Corpus Christi when he was 11.

Young Bill decided on the newspaper business because it would allow him to do both. By the ninth grade, he would spend his after-school hours working at the Waco Citizen office, which had just been opened.

Following graduation from high school and after learning that photography was more challenging that he expected, Bill enrolled at Baylor University, where he took classes in English and advertising.

His primary talent in the newspaper business over the past 50 years has been selling advertising, although he flunked that course at Baylor, after arguing with the teacher who said the lowest cost per thousand was in radio.

In 1953 the year a tornado struck Waco Bill married Camelia Ann Rentz. Later, she too joined the Citizen staff.

She received valuable on-the-job training with her father-in-law, a lawyer, and founder of the Citizen. During her 35-year career at the Citizen, Camelia made impressive contributions to the newspaper's news content, including fine investigative reporting.

Camelia suffered a heart attack while attending the National Newspaper Association convention in San Antonio in October 1988. She died May 5, 1990.

Bill and Camelia had two daughters. Cheryl became an expert computer operator and today works for Johnson & Johnson and travels the world. Jennifer, 12 years younger than Cheryl, was named a vice president of the Citizen in April of this year. She is married to Richard Latham.

One of the best issues the Citizen ever published was in 1953. The newspaper covered a homosexual convention in Waco that featured a wedding. The Citizen printed the names of 50 prominent businessmen in attendance, a story the daily newspaper ignored. Additional copies continued to be printed on the Goss Duplex the rest of the week as copies were sold out. The edition included a photo by AP photographer Jimmy Willis showing a man wearing a beautiful wedding dress.

Waco was the home of the 112th Air Force and Connally Air Base. This gave Foster an opportunity to travel with the general when he went on trips to visit the bases under his command.

One year Bill went along when a division from Fort Hood was airlifted to Germany. On that trip he visited France, a ski area in Germany and Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.

At one time Bill's father, who died in 1980, along with some partners, was associated with several Texas newspapers: Waco Press, Waco Record, Waco American, Brady Herald, DeLeon Free Press, Stamford American, Victoria Mirror and Odessa Herald. During his long career, he served as a Linotype operator on the Waco Tribune Herald, Dallas Times Herald and Dallas Morning News.

One of the most difficult times in Bill's life began in 1965 when he learned that his newspaper building would be torn down as part of an urban renewal project in downtown Waco. He was forced to find another building in mid-town Waco.

In 1960, the Citizen became the first Central Texas weekly to convert to offset. "We bought some of the first Justowriters sold," Foster said. A new three-unit Goss press eventually replaced the Vanguard; a new camera was purchased and new carpet and drapes were added to the building.

Soon business boomed in the new Citizen plant, and one of the first open houses held was for TPA members attending an advertising clinic in Waco.

Gibson's was one of the Citizen's biggest customers until the store closed. One of the more interesting printing jobs was the Baylor Lariat. Foster was instrumental in changing it from a hand-fed letterpress located on the campus to offset in his plant.

Another big printing job was the Bryan Press. Three 30,000 press runs on Tuesday nights proved to be too much for his pressroom crew. This, along with printing 30,000 shoppers for the Citizen, prompted Foster to install two more Goss units in December 1992.

At the 1993 TPA midwinter convention, Bill met Al and Jean Storrs who were looking for a new challenge. In April they were named managers of Citizen Newspapers Inc. The Storrs are busy computerizing the entire plant now. Al Storrs started in the newspaper business with the Riesel Rustler.

Bill is the historian for the First United Methodist Church, which was established in 1850, making it the oldest institution in Waco. For 10 years he has served as public relations chairman of the Lions Clubs of district 2-X3.

In May of this year, Foster married Ellen Campbell, whom he describes as "a wonderful lady about my age."

The Citizen is a member of the Texas Press Association, Texas Community Newspapers and the National Newspaper Association.

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Alma Lee Holman

Alma Lee Holman has been a newspaper editor and owner. And today, well into her 80s she is still covering a regular beat for The Taylor Daily Press as well as writing features and local news.

In between, she has been a wife and mother, a school teacher and school board member, a Democratic State Committeewoman, active in her church and community, and Taylor's first Woman of the Year. The list goes on and on, and her active participation in many areas continues.

Alma Lee's first exposure to journalism came in the early 1940s when she joined the staff of The Taylor Daily Press, where she wrote a column and directed the advertising department, even filling in as editor while many of the men were off at war.

That continued until later that decade when she, Wilson Fox and auto dealer K.L. McConchie bought the weekly Taylor Times from Don Scarbrough. She was managing editor for several years until they sold the weekly, which eventually was merged with The Daily Press.

Joining her husband, Fritz Holman, in the electrical appliance and toy store, Alma Lee was away from the newsroom for a few years. Then Bob Mathis, managing editor of The Daily Times asked her to come back to work for "about three months." The short term job continued for more than two decades. She became society editor of the paper, a position she continued until the early 1980s, when she moved back to a reporter's desk covering county government and the schools.

In 1988, Alma Lee tried to retire from the newspaper. But that didn't last long. She was soon back at her desk part time, covering the county commission and county government, not a particularly easy task since Taylor is not the county seat. In addition, she regularly provides feature stories and news coverage of local activities.

Alma Lee started newspapering in the days of manual typewriters. She is working today in an era of computers and desktop publishing. The technological shift has not passed her by. Learning to use the primitive word processors, which were The Daily Press's first venture into the field, Alma Lee later bought her own computer - a PC - for use at home. When the newspaper leaped ahead in technology in 1992, installing Macintoshes, she quickly found her way around the new system.

While many people her age want nothing more than to stay close to their own living room, Alma Lee's living room has been the world. In recent years she has traveled to Europe and the Middle East, Canada, and all over the United States. She spent part of a summer in a special course at Oxford University. She supported the creation of a Lutheran Church in Guadalajara, Mexico, and she recently returned from a stay there to write the church's history.

"Alma Lee Holman is truly an amazing person," Daily Press Editor Don McAlister said. "She continues to be a main stay of our news room, and a key player in our community. She has meant a lot to our profession in the last half century."

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Wilma Petrusek

Wilma Petrusek began her newspaper career on Nov. 2, 1942, when she went to work for The Sealy News. Most of those almost 51 years have been with The News with the exception of a couple of short stints totaling 15 months with The Bellville Times between the latter part of 1944 and 1946. During those years The Times was owned by Jane Brune's parents and Wilma worked in the office.

Wilma returned to The Sealy News when the paper was sold to a Houston area group, and soon thereafter was acquired by Mescal A. Soloman, who had been a part of The News staff for many years.

When she began working for the newspaper she did simple writing and reporting, and then moved into more extensive writing, advertising, photography and feature writing. At that time, the newspaper operated a commercial printing plant and she performed related duties with that portion of the operation.

She assumed the role of editor when owner-publisher Soloman moved to California in 1963, and she and Earl Luedecke shared in the operation of the business. They became partners with Soloman until the newspaper was sold on Feb. 1, 1993 to Jim Grimes. The News print shop was discontinued following the sale.

In addition to her journalistic involvements, which have been a large part of her life, Wilma has been involved in various aspects of community life. She is a lifetime member of the First United Presbyterian Church of Sealy where she has served as Sunday school teacher and on the board of elders She has played the piano and organ for more than 50 years, and she is currently vice president of the Presbyterian Women.

A member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit for 43 years, she has held the offices of secretary, president and chaplain. She belongs to the Sealy Business and Professional Women's Club, the Sealy Area Historical Society, the Austin County Unit of the American Cancer Society, the Greater Sealy Area Chamber of Commerce and the Stephen F. Austin Park Association.

Wilma was recognized by the B&PW Club as woman of the year in 1983. The Austin County Soil and Water Conservation District honored her with a professional journalism award in 1989; and the Austin County Bar Association presented her with the Liberty Bell Award. The presentation was made by noted attorney Racehorse Haynes of Houston. She has received recognition by the Sealy Rotary Club, Lions Club and the Knights of Columbus.

Upon her 50th year in the newspaper business, a banquet in Wilma's honor was held, with 440 people crowded into a hall that holds 400. The proceeds went to start a scholarship for a local high school student wishing to pursue a journalism career. Nov. 13, 1991 was declared Wilma Petrusek Day by the County Commissioners.

"Although she has completed more than 50 years of service, she shows no signs of slowing down," Grimes said.

"She still works full-time and not a meeting, banquet or community function happens without Wilma in attendance with her camera and notebook."

Wilma, the daughter of the late Charles and Mathilda (Maresh) Petrusek, says journalism has been her first love. Her church and community have been her outside interests. She says God has truly blessed her.

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James R. "Buddy" Yoder

James R. "Buddy" Yoder had chalked up 58 years in the newspaper business before he sold The Weimar Mercury earlier this year. The Mercury had been in the Yoder family for 80 years.

Buddy's father, R.H. Yoder, bought The Mercury in 1913. Buddy was 13 when he started working at the newspaper in 1935.

He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1943 and served in the U.S. Marine Corps for three years.

During World War II, Buddy provided courtesy copies of The Mercury to servicemen and women from his community. He also maintained a bulletin board in his office with names and addresses of military personnel from the Weimar community. Buddy served in the Pacific Theater of Operations and attained the rank of captain before he was discharged. After the war, he helped plan and build Veteran's Memorial Hall in Weimar.

Buddy and his wife, Grace, were married in April 1944.

In 1946, Buddy joined his father as editor and publisher of The Mercury. That partnership continued for 15 years, until R.H. retired in 1961. Then, Buddy and Grace bought R.H.'s half-interest in the newspaper.

Weimar has benefited from Buddy's energy and community spirit for years. He was a member of the Weimar City Council for 24 years, president and secretary of Weimar United Church of Christ and scoutmaster of the Weimar Boy Scout Troop. He is a long-standing member and former post commander of the American Legion.

Buddy is a member and past president of the Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, and Weimar Parent Teachers Association. He was presented a plaque by the Weimar Independent School District Board of Education for 50 years of covering school events and promoting community spirit.

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Grace Yoder

Grace Yoder, a Schulenburg native, worked side-by-side with her husband, James R. "Buddy" Yoder, during his many years as editor and publisher of The Weimar Mercury. She is a Schulenburg High School and University of Texas graduate.

Buddy and Grace were married April 8, 1944.

She was a nursing assistant at Camp Swift, Texas, and at the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., during World War II.

Grace, like Buddy, devoted much of her time and energy to the people of Weimar, serving in church, community and civic organizations.

Grace is a sustaining member of Pink Ladies at Colorado Fayette Memorial Hospital. She is a former Girl Scout and Brownie leader and Cub Scout den mother; a member and officer of Weimar Women's Club for 34 years; and a choir member, Sunday school teacher, church officer and Women's Guild member and officer at Weimar Church of Christ.

She is a sixth-generation Texan and was an active member of Daughters of the Republic of Texas. She served as president for four years.

The Yoders have two children and four grandchildren. Their daughter, Karen, is married to U.S. Army Major Roger L. Williamson, who is stationed in Korea. Eric, 18, and Stephen, 16, are their sons.

Their son, Dr. Kenneth Yoder, is a surgeon in Tucson, Ariz. He and his wife, Kathy, have a son, Dustin, 10, and a daughter, Kristen, 8.