Katharyn Duff, Abilene journalist, historian, and political analyst, died Friday, July 14, 1995. Duff, well known in West Texas through her long-running, page-one column in the Abilene Reporter News, also collected the story of Abilene into a folksy pair of local history books, Abilene . . . On Catclaw Creek in 1969 and a revised version, Catclaw Country in 1980. Duff was born in Rusk, Texas, in 1915 and was reared in the Fisher County community of Sylvester. She graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene and joined the Abilene Reporter News staff in the fall of 1943. Katharyn Duff won many state and national awards for her newspaper work, especially in her coverage of water pollution. Her reportage won the national Thomas L. Stokes Award in 1961 for the best writing in the field of conservation.
While confessing to be a lifelong "yellow-dog Democrat," Duff never pulled her punches, criticizing and praising politicians regardless of their stripe. She was a great supporter of the small-business owner, the individual, the "little guy." While her interest in politics brought her into contact with the nation's leaders, her West Texas heritage never let her forget the men and women who worked daily at the ordinary jobs of life.
Katharyn was as salty as the oilfield pollution she reported. Columnist Bill Whitaker recalled the temerity with which she was regarded by newcomers at the paper. "Back in the 1970s," he recalled, "Katharyn had a habit of writing her page one column early each morning on one of the word processors up at the front of the newsroom. One morning, while Katharyn was off refilling her coffee cup, a young reporter failed to notice that Katharyn's pile of cigarette ashes were, indeed, her particular claim to that computer. He sat down and began working. Upon returning to the computer and finding it occupied, Katharyn gave the young reporter..in fact, he was the religion editor of our paper then..such an inspired tongue.lashing that the pasty.white religion editor quietly turned in whatever he was working on, walked out the door and was never seen again . . . he had gotten his things and moved to Lubbock."
In her role of political pundit for the newspaper, she developed a close friendship with Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. Her first interview with Johnson came during his campaign for the United States Senate. She had unsuccessfully followed the candidate all day trying to get a few words when finally she cornered him and asked for a story. Johnson said he would be happy to oblige but he had to use the bathroom. Her first interview with the future president was through a bathroom door. Liz Carpenter, former press secretary for Lady Bird Johnson, characterized Katharyn as a person of honesty, with the heart and character typical of West Texas. "When I was in the White House and wanted to know something about West Texas, we'd call Katharyn . . . she could always give you the best advice."
All her life, Katharyn Duff was a champion of West Texas. Not a defender, because West Texas needs no defense. As her fellow reporter, Whitaker, phrased it, "If you had some faith in this land, displayed some understanding of its people, it didn't matter to her that you weren't born in Texas, though that sure helped. But if you came here to put in your time and then leave, and you viewed this land with contempt, she was likely to view you with contempt."
I was privileged to know Katharyn Duff as a personal friend and fellow Abilenian. I saw and admired her efforts to build a better community and a better nation. She never married but cared for her sister and family through their lives and illnesses, just as she cared for the rest of us in her sometimes gruff but always heartfelt way. She was an intellectual, a populist, and a real person in every sense of the word. She moved easily among common folk and understood their needs and desires as one of them, and among the rich and powerful, and dispassionately observed their strengths and weaknesses, their contributions and failures. She was as weathered as the land that romanced her and, like the old mesquites she loved, she had her roots down to the water and stood strong against the storms of our times.
Ruth Hartgraves, a Houston obstetrician and gynecologist, one of Texas's most eminent medical pioneers in her field passed away on October 17, 1995, at the age of ninety three.
Ruth Hartgraves was born on October 24, 1901, in Norse, a small community near Waco. After her family moved to Menard, she attended public schools there but graduated from Brownwood High School in 1919 in order to have adequate preparation to enter the University of Texas, which she did in 1919. She entered the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 1922, along with her sister. Due to very difficult economic years for her family, she was forced to stop after only one year and she briefly returned to the University of Texas and earned her B.A. degree in 1925, then taught science in Matador, Texas, for three years. She reentered UTMB at Galveston in 1928 and was graduated as an M.D. in 1932.
Typical of her courage and determination, immediately upon graduation she was accepted for an internship program in Boston at the New England Hospital for Women. She told of starting on a three-day train ride in a chair car from Menard, Texas, and heading for Boston with five dollars in her purse, a shoe box full of food that had to last for three days, and all of her possessions in a small suitcase, thus starting a life of medical practice for one who would become one of the most respected, admired, and loved doctors in our state.
After finishing her internship in Boston in 1933, she accepted a residency in obstetrics and gynecology in New York City at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, and was there through 1934. She then moved to Houston and opened her office in obstetrics and gynecology in 1935. Shortly after having been named to the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine in 1943, she immediately became the Mother in Residence to almost all of the women then attending Baylor, even purchasing a house to be used as a residence for these young women. She was a faculty member of Baylor for almost thirty years. Although she kept an active practice in gynecology until June of 1985, she stopped delivering babies around 1970, by which time she had delivered approximately 4,000 infants.........................................................................................................................her medical career, Dr. Hartgraves held appointments at Methodist, Hermann, Memorial, St. Luke's, and Jefferson Davis Hospitals, and in 1976 she became Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. She organized the Houston Branch of the American Medical Women's Association in 1956 and served as its first President, and was National President of the American Medical Women's Association in 1963. Dr. Hartgraves was the recipient of the 1992 Distinguished Professional Women's Award which is presented by the Committee on the Status of Women, which was given in recognition of her outstanding achievements and for the significant contributions she made to her professional discipline and for her pioneering spirit to mentor women and to provide a positive role model.
In 1980 Dr. Hartgraves was the recipient of the Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award granted by the UTMB School of Medicine Alumni to graduates who had made significant contributions to the profession and to mankind. In 1985 she was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1975 she was awarded the highest honor given by the American Medical Women's Association, the Elizabeth Blackwell Award, presented annually to a single individual making an outstanding contribution to the cause of women in medicine, the first Texas physician to be so recognized. She was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Science Degree from Southwestern University at Georgetown, Texas, in 1976. This was the first Doctor of Science Degree ever awarded by Southwestern since its founding in 1840. She served on President Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women; received the Outstanding Woman Award from the Houston Chapter of the American Business and Professional Women's Association. In addition to all of these honors, perhaps her most important achievement was the giving of herself so freely in being an advisor and counselor to younger women doctors who needed her counsel as they faced the problems of competing in a male-dominated profession. She frequently provided financial support for those who were just getting started in their practices.
Ruth Hartgraves was a very important member of Houston's civic and cultural life. She was an active supporter as well as one who enjoyed very much the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Symphony, the Houston Ballet, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Friends of Bayou Bend. She was a very involved and loyal member of St. Luke's Methodist Church in Houston. She was reared as a Methodist and stayed very involved in the life of that church from the late 1940s until her death. She particularly enjoyed the music of the church and was almost always in attendance at any musical program.
Ruth Hartgraves was cherished by her patients because she was a superb listener. She gave her patients all the time that was needed, not only to take care of them medically, but to listen to their fears and anxieties. She was totally respected within the medical community of Houston, and most especially the staffs of Baylor College of Medicine and the Methodist Hospital, for being an outstanding physician, whose judgment was excellent and whose work habits knew no limits, who enjoyed not only the affection but the total confidence of her patients, and who represented as fine a role model as the medical profession could ever have.
Oveta Culp Hobby
Oveta Culp Hobby, one of the outstanding Americans of the twentieth century and a long.time member of the Philosophical Society of Texas, died August 16, 1995, at her home in Houston. She was ninety.
In World War II, Mrs. Hobby was the first woman in United States history commissioned to organize and command an army of 200,000 women. A decade later, appointed to his cabinet by President Eisenhower, she organized and headed the vast new Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. These were two highlights of a career that held many lasting benefits for her state and her country.
Born in Killeen, Texas, January 19, 1905, Oveta Culp was an avid reader from early childhood. At ten, she read the Congressional Record in her lawyer father's office. At thirteen she had read the Bible three times. When her father was elected to the state legislature, he took the fourteen.year.old Oveta with him to Austin where she attended every session. At age twenty, Oveta Culp became parliamentarian of the Texas House of Representatives, though she was still too young to vote. Still in her twenties, she wrote a book on parliamentary procedure that became a high school textbook. As clerk of the State Banking Commission, she codified the state's banking laws.
At the time of her marriage in 1931, young Oveta Culp was almost as famous within Texas as her distinguished husband, former Governor William Pettus Hobby. Together they formed a team of unusual closeness in all they undertook--publishing the Houston Post, managing the KPRC radio and television station, taking part in state and national politics, and always seeking the betterment of the human condition for all Americans. Oveta Hobby was an early member of the NAACP and of the League of Women Voters, and the Hobby team was steadfast in support of civil rights for all Americans. At the start, Will Hobby was the publisher, while Oveta moved through Post departments learning and working. Increasingly, it was she who went to Washington to deal with the FCC on matters of television and radio.
Oveta Culp Hobby leaped to international fame with her appointment as first director of the Women's Army Corps. At thirty-six, and without precedents to go by, she developed and deployed the corps. As pioneers, the WACS had to bear the slings and slurs that later women's services were spared. But they proved their worth. Expected to handle 59 soldierly tasks, Wacs were filling 239 of them by war's end. In 1944, generals around the world were calling for Wacs..600,000 of them. This was three times the total authorized strength of the corps. Colonel Hobby was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal..the first woman to receive it.
In 1953, aware of her organizational ability from the war days, President Eisenhower asked Mrs. Hobby to bring together a vast assortment of bureaus and agencies into a new Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. She called upon some of the nation's finest minds to analyze and plan. She sent bill after bill to Congress, and gained sweeping improvements and expansions that meant the difference between grim poverty and a productive life for millions of Americans.
Time Magazine reported on May 4, 1953, Oveta Hobby's "new job brings her into direct contact with more U.S. citizens than anyone else in Government." The American Magazine of May, 1953, said, ". . . Mrs. Hobby has assumed the biggest job any woman ever held in this country . . . her activities touch the personal lives of all of us. . . ." She is, among other things, "the biggest insurance executive and pension payer on earth; the No. 1 angel of the sick, aged and handicapped; the nation's top boss of medical research; and our greatest guardian of poor children. She is also a super.protector of food and drugs." Though issued amid controversy, the Salk polio-vaccine program was a major accomplishment of her term.
Because of her husband's grave illness, Mrs. Hobby resigned after thirty-one months. President Eisenhower called it "a sad day for the administration." Hearing the news, Secretary of Treasury George Humphrey cried "What? The best man on the cabinet?" One news service reported "Not since Harry S. Truman . . . has anyone left office in Washington with such fanfare as was accorded Mrs. Hobby at the White House."
With improving health, Governor Hobby became chairman of the Post board, while Mrs. Hobby took over as president and editor. The team was still in place until his death. After the Hobby family sold the Houston Post in 1984, Mrs. Hobby became chairman of H&C Communications which owned several television and radio stations.
Throughout her corporate career, Oveta Hobby served on many public boards, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rice University, the Houston Symphony Society, and Houston's Museum of Fine Arts. In 1948 she was a member of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Conference on Freedom of Information and the Press in Geneva. In 1949, as president of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, she urged the members to prepare for the computer era. The Houston Post was one of the first papers in the world to be fully computerized. And always, the Hobby team supported civil rights. When the Supreme Court was due to hand down the Brown decision that desegregated the nation's public schools, the Post was ready: page one carried statements by every major religious leader in support of the decision.
Though she attended Mary Hardin Baylor College and audited classes at the South Texas Law School, Oveta Hobby was largely self.educated--largely and richly educated. Her wide.range of reading continued all her life. Newly turned ninety, she was as avidly interested in the world of arts, science, literature, and government as she had been at twenty, and welcomed new murder mysteries by her favorite authors. Museum curators comment on the excellence of her eye in choosing art. And in her concern over her friends and family, she was often teased about practicing medicine without a license.
With all, Oveta Culp Hobby was a person of infinite charm, beauty, and wit. Her sincere interest in the lives and welfare of those around her were irresistible. Of the highest ethics, personally and professionally, she had the humor to enchant. And in service to her country, she achieved greatness.
She is survived by her son, William Pettus Hobby Jr., for twelve years lieutenant governor of Texas, and her daughter, Jessica Hobby Catto, nationally known for her work in environmental development, by eight grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
Daniel Edmond Kilgore
Daniel Edmond Kilgore, a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas since 1976 and a former president of the Texas State Historical Association, died December 23, 1995, at Corpus Christi, where he had lived for more than forty years.
Although Dan was a CPA by profession, his greatest accomplishments were in the field of Texas history, and it was in recognition of these contributions that he was elected to the Philosophical Society. He was, in particular, an authority on the history of South Texas.
He was also an enthusiastic collector of Texana who accumulated two major libraries pertaining to South Texas. He gave the first, some 10,000 volumes and documents valued at $385,000, to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in 1984. But his addiction to collecting Texana, which he called "an incurable malady," did not disappear with his library, and on his death he left another substantial collection to TAMU-Corpus Christi.
Kilgore led a busy professional and civic life. Therefore, his work in history had to be done in "off hours" and without the help of a secretary, researcher, or graduate student--conveniences of great usefulness to many of his brother historians. His works include How Did Davy Die (1978), and contributions to A Ranger Legacy: 150 Years of Service to Texas; Nueces County, Texas 1750-1800; Francisco Becerra, as Told to John S. Ford in 1875; A Mexican Sergeant's Recollections of the Alamo and San Jacinto; and scores of monographs, newspaper and magazine articles, and papers presented before various historical societies.
In 1976 his colleagues elected him president of the Texas State Historical Association. He was, of course, a members of almost all the regional historical societies in South Texas, and a prolific contributor to their publications and to newspapers in South Texas.
Robert H. Thonhoff of Karnes City, a friend and past president of the Texas State Historical Association, said "Dan Kilgore was a trail blazer in Texas history. In 1991 he was honored for his efforts in history by being elected a Fellow of the Texas State Historical Association. He will undoubtedly be remembered and appreciated by historians" for years to come. Bruce C. Cheeseman, archivist and historian for the King Ranch, wrote that "Kilgore's modest nature led him to avoid praise and thanks," but that he will be remembered "for his contribution to the ongoing challenge of documenting the history of South Texas and Corpus Christi." Kilgore, Cheeseman added, "helped provide a workable record of the past, asked good questions, and gave interesting, significant and true answers."
Kilgore was born in Dallas, and got his bachelor of business administration from the University of Texas at Austin in 1943. He belonged to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and had been secretary of the Texas Society of Public Accountants and president of the Corpus Christi chapter.
Kilgore was born with a club foot and when he was three years old he contracted polio, which left his legs almost useless. He worked his way through life--painfully, no doubt--with crutches and braces, but never mentioned his handicap, either to explain or complain.
Kilgore is survived by his wife, Carol Isensee Kilgore of Corpus Christi; a daughter, Nancy J. Kilgore of San Antonio; and two sons, Daniel Kilgore Jr. of Waco and Christopher H. Kilgore of Houston. A brother, William Jackson (Jack) Kilgore, also a member of the Philosophical Society, preceded him in death in 1993.
Abner Vernon McCall
Valedictorian of the Masonic Home High School in 1933, Baylor Law School top graduate in 1938, highest score ever made on the Texas Bar Examination to that time (1938), practitioner and Baylor assistant professor of law 1938-42, LL.M. University of Michigan Law School 1943, FBI agent 1943-45, practitioner and Baylor professor of law 1945-48, Baylor law dean and professor 1948-59, Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1956, Executive Vice President of Baylor University 1959.61, President of Baylor University 1961-81, Chancellor of Baylor University 1981-85, President Emeritus of Baylor University 1985-95, Abner McCall was truly sui generis.
After the loss of his father in the influenza epidemic of 1918.19, and his mother's loss of health in the four years thereafter, Abner McCall and his sister and brothers were invited by Abner's late father's Masonic brethren to come and take up residence in the Masonic Home in Fort Worth. From that time until his death, Abner was a staunch supporter of Masonic benevolences and an illustrious 33ê member of the brotherhood that had so greatly influenced his life.
During his Baylor days as an undergraduate and law student Abner McCall became a member of the J. M. Dawson household. Dr. J. M. Dawson was Abner's pastor at First Baptist Church of Waco, and Dr. and Mrs. Dawson treated him like one of their own children. Abner forged his closest lifetime friendship with the Dawson's son, Matt, an esteemed Baylor law graduate and trial lawyer par excellence. Abner McCall and Matt Dawson graduated together from the Baylor Law School, practiced law together in Longview, Corsicana, and Waco for many years, went on family vacations together and were like brothers, personally and professionally. Their friendship spanned the sixty two years from 1933 to 1995.
Married in 1940 to Frances Bortle, Abner McCall was a devoted husband and father of daughters Anne McCall Chroman, Bette McCall Martin, Kathleen McCall Sigtenhorst, and son Richard (Dick) McCall, Esq., with grandchildren he loved dearly. His daughter Bette described her father in this way in 1981 as he was retiring from the Baylor presidency ". . . somehow, when we reached those skeptical disdaining teen.age years, I do not remember that any of us ever doubted his knowledge, his wisdom, or his judgment--he was simply right too often. Even now, I would feel a little uncomfortable if I discovered that my opinion on a matter differed from his--I would have the nagging suspicion that it was I who was wrong!" And also, "Because of his humility and complete unpretentiousness, we became only subtly aware of one aspect of our father's character, and that was his firm conviction that we are indeed our brothers' keepers. He gave regularly and unstintingly to his church and to other institutions and agencies, and he and Mother personally helped support needy individuals as well as causes. His Christianity expressed itself beautifully in his love for his neighbor, and he had little patience with those who claimed to love God and did not seem to love their fellow men."
Frances Bortle McCall died suddenly at age fifty in June 1969, and McCall experienced the darkest moment in his life. In the months that followed, he was sustained by his deep faith and personal resilience, regaining his balance through his daily work and witness.
On December 25, 1970, McCall married Mary Wilson Russell, who had lost her husband, Dr. Lloyd Russell, a Baylor faculty member, in 1968. Mary attended Baylor in the late 1930s and had known Abner and the members of the "Baylor family" since those days. Mary and Abner McCall and their two families spent twenty.five significant and meaningful years together.
A dedicated churchman, Abner McCall taught what was to become "The McCall Class" at First Baptist Church of Waco from 1948 to 1995. Judge McCall was also an avid political partisan and pundit from his Baylor student days until his death, and he knew and was known by virtually all the major politicians at the local, state, and national levels.
Abner McCall "travelled light" all of his life, generally unencumbered by the myriad of trappings and burdens which weigh down the average person. He freed himself to act forcefully and with ever.increasing credibility, and became a singularly respected leader within the state of Texas and throughout the nation. His devotion to Baylor, to higher education, to all worthy causes and to our Lord has set him apart and gives him an abiding place in our hearts. As Shakespeare says in Julius Caesar,
He only, in a general honest thought,
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle; and the elements
So Mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, 'This was a man!'