TPA 1969-70 president Hawkes dies

Monday, 12 July 2004

George Hawkes, president of Texas Press Association in 1969-70, died June 8, 2004 after a brief illness.

Hawkes started his newspaper career as a high school freshman working for The Flatonia Argus as pressman and printer’s devil, running a foot-powered 10x15 Chandler & Price job press, and learning to operate a gasoline-fired Model L Linotype machine.

After graduation at age 16, he continued to work for a year at The Argus as a printer/writer, and while attending Baylor University, served as a Linotype operator and pressman on The Daily Lariat.

At age 18 he had opportunity to lease and later the same year buy The Argus from Joseph Kopecky of Hallettsville, which he operated until joining the Army Air Corps in 1942 as a volunteer. He leased The Argus for several years and later sold it to George Bridges.

After release from the Army Air Corps, where he served in the public relations office preparing news releases for hometown papers and helping publish the camp newspaper, he went to work for The Redland Herald in Nacogdoches, and while there, assisted in consolidating The Herald with the Daily Sentinel. For several years he was managing editor of both newspapers.

In May 1946, he purchased The Arlington Citizen, a struggling weekly in what was then a town of 6,500 with a competitive weekly, The Journal. As the town grew, Hawkes and his partners purchased The Journal and in 1957, organized Citizen-Journal, Inc.

In September 1964, Hawkes and his associates sold a portion of their corporate stock to Carter Publications, owner of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and built a new million dollar central printing plant in Arlington, and at one time published 32 different area newspapers, including five owned by the C-J corporation.

Hawkes stayed on as publisher until 1976 with the sale of the remaining interest in Citizen-Journal to Capital Cities, owners of the Star-Telegram. Eventually the Citizen-Journal became the daily Arlington Star-Telegram.

Hawkes and his associates established The News-Mirror in Mansfield in March, 1961, after The Mansfield News stopped publication. It was originally a subsidiary of Citizen-Journal, Inc. of Arlington, but was later formed into a separate corporation and was not included in the sale.

Nor-Tex Publications Inc., corporate owners of The Mansfield News-Mirror, sold June 15, 1983 to Jerry and Beverly Ebensberger of Mansfield. Hawkes was Nor-Tex president and publisher of The News-Mirror.

Hawkes saw his hometown of Arlington grow from a sleepy town of 6,500 to a bustling suburban community of 350,000.

His newspaper sought to keep pace with that growth, and his publications were consistent prize winners in regional and state press contests.

In 1964 Hawkes was cited by his hometown as “Citizen of the Year.” He was active in many civic and service organization, his church and his profession, having served as president of the North and East Texas Press Association and as TPA president.

He helped kick start the Arlington Chamber of Commerce back to life after World War II. He was a founding director of Arlington Christmas Samaritans, now Arlington Goodfellows.

He threw the newspaper’s support behind the creation of Arlington Memorial Hospital, served as president of the Arlington YMCA and Arlington Rotary Club, and served on the Arlington Library Board. The city’s main library bears his name.

He was also a past president of the Texas Press Association and the North and East Texas Press Association, and served as a deacon of First Baptist Church.

Govs. Preston Smith and Dolph Briscoe appointed him to the board of directors of the Texas Turnpike Authority. The Texas Turnpike is now Interstate 30.

He also put together an anthology of his favorite editorials and columns, “To Talk of Many Things,” published last year. The title, a phrase from “Alice in Wonderland,” was always a fixture of his editorial pages.