Golden 50 — 2011

2011 award recipients
announced June 17, 2011 at 132th Summer Convention in Rockwall, TX.

Bob Brincefield
Glenn McNeill
Van Thomas

Paul Whitworth

 

Bob Brincefield

It’s the end of an era for Bob Brincefield. His term as 2010-2011 TPA president is coming to a close, along with his 50th and final year in the newspaper industry. This summer he retires as vice president and regional manager of American Consolidated Media, and vice president and publisher of the Brownwood Bulletin.

Over the years, Brincefield has worked in nearly every aspect of the business. He grew up in Detroit, and at the age of 16 he was hired part time by the Detroit News to assist the circulation district manager at a neighborhood substation.

Two years later, he was offered a full-time position with the paper. He started in the stockroom as a shipping and receiving clerk, but soon transferred to the circulation department, where his flexible work schedule allowed him to attend college at Wayne State University in downtown Detroit.

After graduating with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology, Brincefield was promoted to the home delivery department as a district manager. He worked in the city and suburban areas until 1976 when he was promoted to a supervisory position, managing 15 district managers and about 30,000 subscribers on the east side of the city.

In 1978 Brincefield and his wife, Carol, decided it was time for a change of scenery, and he accepted a position with Woodson Newspapers as the circulation manager in Stephenville. For the next 10-and-a-half years he managed the circulation department and also served as assistant publisher.

In 1981 he assumed management of two weekly newspapers purchased by Woodson, the Dublin Progress and the Hico News Review. When the recession hit Texas in the mid-1980s, Brincefield was named marketing director and given the responsibility of managing the advertising department.

Woodson sold the papers to Boone Newspapers Inc. in 1989. Three years later, Boone purchased three daily newspapers in Minnesota, and Brincefield was promoted to publisher of the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune.

He worked in Albert Lea until 1997, when he was given the opportunity to return to Texas as publisher of the Brownwood Bulletin, a position he still holds. Boone is now owned by American Consolidated Media Inc. As vice president and regional manager of ACM, Brincefield has direct responsibility for 8 newspapers.

Brincefield has served on TPA’s board of directors since 2000. He served as president of the West Texas Press Association in 2007.

 

Glenn McNeill

Glenn McNeill has covered football for 50 years. During his 38 years as the owner of the Wills Point Chronicle and the Canton Herald, he never missed a Friday night game in Wills Point.

McNeill and his wife, Betsy, bought the Wills Point Chronicle and the Canton Herald from Betsy’s mother after the death of her father. The couple also founded the Canton Guide and the Van Zandt News, and kept a commercial printing operation going.

When McNeill and his wife sold the Wills Point Chronicle, the Canton Herald, Van Zandt News and the Canton Guide to Van Zandt Newspapers LLC in 1996, McNeill continued to work several days a week as an advertising sales person and as a back-up pressman when needed.

McNeill began working for his father-in-law on July 11, 1960, the birthday of his wife. He and Betsy bought a half-interest in the Chronicle before 1963. In 1963, McNeill and Thomas Campbell bought the Canton Herald from Jack Campbell, Tom’s brother.

When he started in the newspaper business, McNeill was setting type by hand, using the Linotype, and running the flatbed Miehle letter press to print the newspapers with heavy, hot-metal type. During his newspaper career, he and his father-in-law bought one of the first Compugraphic typesetting computers in the state. They bought a Chandler & Price offset newspaper press. In 1980 after the death of Thomas Campbell, the McNeills and Ellie Campbell bought a five-unit offset Goss Community press.

McNeill raised registered Charolais cattle and hay to sell until he sold the newspapers and went into semi-retirement. He now works three days a week selling advertising.

Born Oct. 3, 1936, in Stephenville, McNeill graduated from North Side High School in Fort Worth. He attended North Texas State University, Arlington Junior College (now UT Arlington) and SMU night school.

He has a hobby of senior basketball competition. He has won the state basketball free-throw championship eight times. He has won second place five times and third place once. He has placed the last five years in a row, hitting 123 out of 125 free-throw shots during the five years. He once shot 146 free throws in a row in his church gym, and he has a witness. - Betsy McNeill

 

Van Thomas

Van Thomas says there is no smell like the smell of ink in a newspaper building. He should know since he began working as a reporter for the Arkansas Central Leader in 1950. Since that time he has covered news from the Olympics to the battlefields of Vietnam.

“I grew up on a cotton, corn, hay, cattle and swine plantation in Northeastern Arkansas where I was taught to work. My father taught us how to work and only rest on Sunday,” Thomas said.

His present boss, Alvin Holley, publisher of the Polk County Enterprise can attest to the fact Thomas is just like his father, he never quits. He works day and night.

After graduating from high school Thomas joined the U.S. Army where he served the last 18 months of his duty in Germany under the direct command of General Gerald Lillard and General Stokes. Thomas worked for them helping with division papers.

Following his years in the service he enrolled and graduated from the University of Arkansas before becoming the sports editor of the Roseville Press Tribune in Roseville, Calif. After two years at Roseville, Thomas took a job as sports editor at the Henderson Daily News in 1961. Two years later in May of 1963, Thomas became the sports editor of the Longview Daily News and Morning Journal.

In 1967 Thomas took an assignment, unrelated to sports, to cover news in South Vietnam for the Longview Daily News and Morning Journal to learn how the giant earthmoving machines invented by the late R.G. LeTourneau of Longview were used to clear acres and acres of trees and undergrowth during the war. While there Thomas did stories on Army, Marines and Air Force men from East Texas.

“I missed the 1967 Texas Coaching School, the only one I missed in 50 years, because I was in Vietnam,” Thomas said.

Thomas joined the Nacogdoches Sentinel in 1974 as sports editor and later he moved to Livingston to take the sports editor position at the Polk County Enterprise. Since 1979 he has held that position.

In July 1994 at the Texas Coaching School in Houston, he was honored with the second Putt Powell Award. In 1999 he was selected the Sports Writer of the Year by the Texas High School Coaches Association.

Through the years he has covered many games and watched many of the best athletes and coaches in Texas perform. If you have an afternoon, Thomas can recall games he covered than involved coaches like Luke Thornton of Palestine, Ty Bain of Longview High, the late Watty Myers of Texas High, Frank Broyles of Arkansas, Darrell Royal of the University of Texas and many more.

“I have staffed 12 to 14 games per year for more than 50 years and most of those games I walked the sidelines,” Thomas said. “I’ve seen some of the best of Texas perform on the field or in the gym.”

Some of those outstanding athletes Thomas recalls include James Street, Earl Campbell, Rodney Thomas, Bill Bradley, all players who led their teams to the state championships.

Thomas believes athleticism is only the door to an opportunity for having a bright future. He has helped numerous East Texas athletes gain both athletic and academic scholarships throughout the nation. - Alvin Holley

 

Accidental Newspaper man

By Paul Whitworth

I was sitting on a bench in Houston’s Hermann Park reading the Help Wanted ads on a Sunday afternoon in August 1961, when I saw an ad listing an available position as an advertising salesman with the Temple Daily Telegram.

My five-year experience as assistant store manager with the S.H. Kress Company had recently come to an end and I decided to try something new. I mailed in an application and soon forgot the whole thing.

In early November, I got a phone call from William S. “Bill” Moore, the Telegram’s advertising manager. He said, “Can you be here Monday?” I replied, “Sure, but don’t you want me to come and interview first?”

He responded, “I see you are from Harlingen and I am from Alice (two South Texas cities), and that’s good enough for me.”

That was 50 years ago and it is still hard to believe.

I worked at the Telegram until January 1963 when my wife, Edie, persuaded me to apply for a similar job with the Houston Post. Again, I sold advertising and called on the Sharpstown Mall area of southwest Houston.

Two kids later, I needed to make more money and again, I saw a Help Wanted ad in the paper advertising jobs at the Daily Oklahoman & Times in Oklahoma City. This time I had to interview, and Hal Deadman, the retail advertising manager, made me spell “restaurant” and a couple of other words before he agreed to hire me.

“I hate applicants who can’t spell,” he said.

I worked there for two years selling ads in the downtown area including John A. Brown (now Dillard’s).

While at the Oklahoman & Times, I learned about Rotogravure magazines and sold ads in Orbit for Clyde Blythe, the roto ad manager. I also worked with Rollie Hyde in Oklahoma City.

When the Houston Post decided to begin publishing a roto magazine in the Sunday paper, I returned there in 1967 to be the advertising manager. Tempo Magazine lasted three years and folded because we had too many local ads at a low rate and not enough national ads at a high rate.

I was made assistant retail advertising manager after the magazine ceased publication and did that for three years. When Conrad Kloh left to become retail manager at the San Antonio Light, I tried for his job, but Mrs. Hobby decided to bring in someone from New Jersey to take the job. That was in August 1973.

I got my feelings hurt and decided to look for greener pastures. It was at that time that I got the idea that I would be better off if I could buy a weekly so that there would be no bosses to report to. The only problem being 1) I had no money and 2) I didn’t know anything about running a small newspaper.

For that reason I took a job with Casa Grande Valley Newspapers in October 1973, where I worked as advertising director for one of the best in the business, Donovan “Don” Kramer. He was my boss and mentor for three years and taught me everything I know about the small daily and the weekly business. Don operated newspaper in Casa Grande, Eloy, Coolidge, Florence and at that time Gila Bend, Ariz. Later, Don bought the paper in Showlow, Ariz.

My family loved Arizona and we would be there still, except for the fact that the paper in Raymondville became available. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Miller, operated the Raymondville Chronicle & Willacy County News for 35 years, from 1941 until 1976.

After my wife and I bought the paper in October 1976, we ran it together until 2001 when she passed away. I am still here ten years later and will probably be here for a while longer. Raymondville is a great place to run a newspaper. The readers are easy to please and we have a good staff.

I travel more than I used to but still put in three or four days a week at the paper. We haven’t won many prizes for excellence, probably because we don’t enter the contests, but our 3,200 readers plunk down $1 a week at the newsstand or $40 per year for a subscription, and that tells me everything I need to know.

Raymondville is 20 miles north of my hometown, Harlingen, so I guess I’ve come home. 50 years in the business and 35 years here. I feel blessed.

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