Golden 50 — 2000

2000 Recipients

121st Summer Convention, Friday, June 23, 2000, Hilton Arlington, Arlington, Texas

Alvin Holley, Polk County Publishing Co.
Don Nelson, Castro County News
Bill Glassford, Clay County Leader
Tom M. Holmes, Trenton Tribune
Marie Hall Whitehead, Rusk Cherokeean
Bob Barton, The Buda Free Press

Alvin Holley

Alvin Holley, publisher of the Polk County Enterprise and incoming president of the Texas Press Association, believes he received his best education 50 years ago when he sold newspapers on the streets of Corsicana. That's where he began his newspaper career in 1950 at the Corsicana Daily Sun.

He learned quickly how to stand on his own. It gave him an opportunity to learn about economics and how to make a living as a salesman. As a hawker, he sold newspapers on the streets for 5 cents -- 3 cents was paid to the newspaper and Holley got to keep the remaining 2 cents plus tips, which usually were no more than a nickel.

During his teenage years he developed his own route and sold more than 500 single copies each afternoon, earning the right to claim "most copies sold daily by a carrier at the Corsicana Sun."

Holley says he remembers well his conversation with Corsicana Sun Publisher Fred DuBose when he was offered a job to work in the office of the Sun.

"I told him if I couldn't make more than I made on my paper route I wouldn't take the job," Holley said.

Holley took the job and recalls it started at 7:30 a.m. and ended no earlier than 7:30 p.m., six days a week. But the best thing was the opportunity. His first paycheck was $65 per week, an amount that provided for him, his wife and baby son.

Holley developed a strong relationship with DuBose, who became his tutor and mentor.

While working for the Corsicana Sun Holley advanced through the ranks as circulation manager, advertising manager and general manager.

In 1972 Holley and David Durham, also an employee of the Sun, bought the Polk County Publishing Co. in Livingston.

After leaving a daily paper Holley expected putting out a weekly paper would allow him to have more free time. He said that dream quickly was shattered when they found there wasn't enough money to pay the bills due to the limited advertising income.

They did the quickest thing to economize and make ends meet, cut all expenses, including the payroll.

Holley remembers that every job cut was another one left for him to do. Like most weekly publishers he had to fill all the gaps. That included as needed, working an average 60 or more hours a week selling advertising, running the press, preparing the mail, delivering all the newsstands and doing all the things later he learned publishers of small weekly papers do every week.

As East Texas began to grow, so did Polk County Publishing Co. Holley bought his partner's interest in their company. He now serves as publisher of seven newspapers in five counties, The Polk County Enterprise, San Jacinto News-Times in Shepherd, Trinity Standard, Groveton News, Corrigan Times, Houston County Courier and the Tyler County Booster in Woodville. Additionally his company produces four weekly shoppers and does commercial and job printing from two printing plants.

"I recognize that my newspaper career could not have been successful without some good employees and my family," Holley said.

Linda, his wife, is advertising manager for several of the newspapers. Three of their six children presently are employed at the Polk County Enterprise. All six have been employed there in previous years.

Holley has received several community service awards and was named Polk Countian of the Year in 1985. This year he has been nominated for the Dr. Ralph W. Steen East Texan of the Year Memorial Award. This award is presented annually by the Deep East Texas Council of Governments to someone who has contributed significantly to the growth and prosperity of the East Texas area.

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Don Nelson

Don Nelson, 66, is editor and publisher of The Castro County News Dimmitt, a 2,500-circulation weekly that has been owned and operated by his family since 1943.

He grew up as a "printer's devil" in the back shop, learned to set type and had a newspaper route.

He became a Linotype operator in his teens and served as editor of his high school newspaper, Bobcat Tales. After graduating from Dimmitt High School, he attended Texas Tech University one year on a vocal music scholarship, then transferred to the University of Texas, where he worked his way through school as a typesetter. He served as night sports editor for The Daily Texan, the school's student newspaper.

He received his bachelor's degree in journalism from UT in 1956. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, he was the news editor for seven The Arizona Record, a national award-winning weekly in Globe, Ariz. While living in Globe, he served a year as a vice president of the Arizona Junior Chamber of Commerce ( Jaycees).

He returned to Dimmitt in 1966 to become a partner with his father, the late B.M. Nelson, in The Castro County News. He has been the sole owner of News since his father's retirement in 1984.

Through the years, the News regional and state levels. Nelson also has won national awards for column writing. Nelson served as president of the Panhandle Press Association in 1970-71.

He served on the UT System Chancellor's Committee of Editors in 1972-73 and was a member of the Texas Tech Mass Communications Advisory Committee many years, including one term as chairman of the journalism.

In Dimmitt, he has been president of the Jaycees, Lions Club and County Activities Committee, an officer and director of the Chamber of Commerce and the Dimmitt Satellite School and an advisor for the Interracial Youth Club. He was co-chairman of the Castro County Centennial Commission, which raised $100,000 to underwrite the county's centennial celebration in 1991 and pay for construction of the Centennial Plaza and Gazebo on the courthouse square.

During the Centennial, his staff also produced a 116-page special edition. For his work on the centennial, Nelson was honored as Dimmitt's "Citizen of the Year" in 1992.

He sings bass in the First United Methodist Church choir where he served four years as choir director and belongs to the Methodist Men's Quartet. He also is a regular soloist in Dimmitt's "Follies" and other musical events.

He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (Sigma Delta Chi) and the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

Nelson always has been concerned with the ethics of the profession, espe·cially as they apply to the unique position of the country editor.

For the past decade he has chaired an "ethics panel" at the Panhandle Press Association conventions, and in 1996 at the Texas Press Association at Midwinter Convention.

At the 90th annual convention of Panhandle Press in April 2000, he was inducted into the PPA Hall of Fame.

Nelson and his wife, Verbie (a retired school teacher and former "Teacher of the Year"), have three children: Rev. Connie Nelson of Atlanta, Ga., com·munications and program director of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries; David of Madison, Wis., marketing director for software developer Wingra Technologies; and Nathan of Houston, branch manager for the Internet placement service techies.com.

His favorite hobbies are singing, fly-fishing, bird-watching, traveling and writing his weekly column "1:1."

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Bill Glassford

Bill Glassford always wanted to be a weekly newspaper editor ever since he could remember so he could contribute to a small community. The "service spirit" appealed to him.

Born Sept. 26, 1921, in Johnson County, Glassford graduated from Alvarado High School in 1938. He attended North Texas State College and received a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1949 from the University of Texas at Austin. While at UT he served as night editor of The Daily Texan.

In 1949, he became a staff reporter on the weekly newspaper, Hockley County Herald and Levelland Sun News.

When still a new reporter for the Hockley County Herald,Glassford broke a story on the county treasurer confessing to using county funds for personal purchases. The long, two-column story ran on the front page and led to the treasurer's indictment. Also during his stint at the Herald Glassford received awards for his contributions to local conservation efforts.

Only a few years later in 1953 Glassford bought the Morton Tribune with a partner.

In 1961 he purchased the Clay County Leader, which he ran until retiring and selling in 1995. Glassford still writes a paragraph, Near News, for the Clay County Leader.

While at the Clay County Leader,the staff printed an "extra" on shortages of hospital funds. The "extra" led to an indictment of the hospital administrator.

In addition to his years of service to community journalism Glassford received many awards including a 50-year recognition as a Sunday school teacher, layman of the year from the Kiwanis International Texas-Oklahoma District, several FFA honorary Chapter Farmer awards, District 3 4-H Media award from Clay County and District 4 4-H distinguished media award.

He is the only honorary member of the nine-man board of Clay County Pioneer's Association and was named an outstanding citizen by the local chamber of commerce and outstanding citizen of the year by the Morton Jaycees. He was a director of the South Plains Press Association.

Glassford joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1941 and served three and a half years on an attack transport ship where he took part in invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Italy.

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Tom M. Holmes

After more than 50 years service at The Trenton Tribune, Tom M. Holmes is showing no signs of slowing down.

"As long as my health continues I have no plans of retiring from the Fourth Estate. I am the third generation of the Holmes family who founded The Trenton Tribune Oct. 22, 1909," Holmes said.

Holmes started out working for The Tribune in 1945 feeding a hand fed press. His name is listed as "assistant" in the staff box of a 1947 edition but he says he

was actually the "printer's devil" for his father and mother, the late Tom and Edith Holmes.

"I had to stand on a stool to be tall enough to feed those 30x44 sheets into my dad's Babcock Reliance Press," he said. "I have grown up with the hot-type process up to the cold type and offset method. The operation of the Linotype was my major goal."

The Tribune had a Model 5 Linotype where Holmes learned and later per·fected his publication skills on the Linotype 14 and 31 models.

"I will admit that at first I was not into journalism. I was a mechanic, espe·cially with the Linotype," he said.

Holmes continues to operate the Model 31 Linotype at the Tribune today.

With the advance in newspaper publishing moving to offset, Holmes mas·tered the IBM typewriter, the Singer Justowriter and the Compugraphic. "But for the Apple computer I am not so sure," he said of today's newspaper tech·nology.

Holmes still serves as editor and publisher of the Tribune.

"My years with The Tribune have been enjoyable for the most part, although there have been many ups and downs and when those hard times came I would play music with my guitar," he said.

Holmes is a longtime member of the American Federation of Musicians, local 72-147.

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Marie Whitehead

Emmett H. Whitehead and wife, Marie, purchased The Rusk Cherokeean June 1, 1950.

The couple moved to Cherokee County the last week of May 1950 and immediately began to put down tap roots. They purchased the news·paper from the late Frank and Marie Main.

The next decade was marked by the births of two daughters, Terrie and Wendee, in 1953 and 1958, respectively.

Other business ventures for the couple included the publication of a second newspaper, The Cushing Citizen, which later became a month·ly publication, a precursor to the later total market coverage (TMC), and lasted for five years.

In August 1978, they purchased The Alto Herald, maintaining its autonomy until 1989 when The Herald was merged with The Cherokeean, becoming the Cherokeean/Herald,as it continues today. A historical marker is in the process of approval at the state level to note the newspaper's 150 years service as Texas' oldest, continuously published weekly newspaper, according to the Whiteheads.

In 1955, the Whiteheads established radio station KTLU-AM and added KWRW-FM in 1981.

In 1962, their business expanded with a one-half interest in the pioneer E·Z Vision Cable Company, one of the earliest in East Texas. Eventually the Whiteheads purchased outright the fledgling cable company and sold it in 1988. Other businesses owned include a registered Hereford cattle ranch near Rusk.

In addition to her career as a full-time working wife/mother, Marie found time to return to school at Stephen F. Austin State University, earning a bach-elor's degree in 1971 and a master's degree in 1974. Her second degree was marked by a 4.0 GPA. Her thesis was a 300-page history of the newspaper they own, covering its existence from founding.

Emmett found time to serve in the Texas House of Representatives from 1973-81 and returned home to serve as county judge and now is mayor.

Marie's other areas of service include president of the PTA, chamber direc·tor, board of education Region VII Education Service Center director and active in Cherokee County Mental Retardation Association Inc.

Marie is a member of First United Methodist Church where she serves as adult women's Sunday school teacher and is a member of the Chancel Choir and Handbell Choir.

The local chamber of commerce honored the Whiteheads as Citizens of the Year in 1974, a tribute that followed their tireless service toward the cre·ation of the Texas State Railroad State Historical Park and the Rusk-Palestine State Parks.

In the family business with Emmett and Marie are their daughter Terrie and son-in-law, Robert Gonzalez, who also are the parents of their three grandchildren, Chris, Sandy and Lauren. Wendee owns Whitehead Chiropractic Clinic, which she established in Austin in February 1991.

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Bob Barton

He's been enthralled with newspapers since he was in school. At the ripe old age of 25, he bought his first newspaper, and has been breathing printer's ink ever since.

Bob Barton is a maverick when it comes to newspapers. He does now, and always has, bucked the trends. His newspapers are lively, unafraid to take a stand, and have put him in hot water numerous times, even once with the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross in his front yard.

The newspapers' names are synonymous with quality --Hays County Citizen, Austin Sun, The Free Press, The Chautauquan.

Barton bought his first newspaper just after he graduated from the San Marcos State Teachers College (now Southwest Texas State University). His wife, Wynette "Tutta" Barton, 20 at the time, was a junior in college and a news editor. Pete Guttery, the managing editor, 21, was a sophomore in col·lege studying journalism. The business administrator was 19, sports editor 17, printer's devil 16, and Linotype operator was 13. The average age? 19. The newspaper? The Hays County Citizen.

The Citizen grew to a force in Hays County, almost driving the daily news·paper, the San Marcos Record out of business. Eventually, Barton shut down the Citizen, to the despair of Hays County residents.

From there, Barton moved north and purchased the Austin Sun -- a "hippy" rag, it was called. It dealt in music reviews, movie reviews and politics, Barton's second interest. The Sun eventually was converted to the Onion Creek Free Press, serving the readers along the banks of Onion Creek in south Travis and north Hays counties. Today, The Free Press, as it is now called, has almost doubled its circulation in the past three years. It covers southern Travis and all of Hays County, and is an award-win-ning newspaper.

Just one year ago, Barton added The Chautauquan, a news and feature magazine that covers music, entertainment and politics.

Barton has done more than just run newspapers, though. He held a seat in the Texas Legislature in the early 1980s and ran a college bookstore in San Marcos, which eventually sold to a national bookstore chain.

Barton's second love is politics, and he has made many a stand -- both individually and through his newspapers in support of the underdog. The KKK burned a cross in his yard in the early 1970s when his newspapers stood in support of Hispanics' voting rights and representation in Hays County and San Marcos governments.

His parents, Bob and Mary Barton, instilled in Bob Jr. the need to protect the underdog and stand up for what is right. His mother, as legend has it, per·sonally stood up and yelled at a coach who refused to play against the local team because of the Hispanics playing with them. She pulled herself to her full 5-foot, 90-pound size, and told him off. It's a lesson that Bob Barton never forgot.

It's a lesson that Barton's newspapers have learned. The staff strives to fol·low his footsteps, to stand up for what is right -- no matter what.