It was a hot and steamy day rather than a dark and stormy night when the Fort Bend Star was born.
On June 20, 1978, a dozen brave friends, relatives, and otherwise crazy people delivered 12,000 copies of a brand new publication to the east end of Fort Bend County.
I had been teaching high school English, drama, and journalism at Alief High School for ten years and while I loved it for nine of those years, I woke up one morning and I didn’t want to go to work that day. I knew it was the end for me as the same thing had
happened with three husbands before.
I know the very minute I decided to start a newspaper. I was talking on the telephone to a friend of mine who owned a weekly newspaper, a woman I had worked with and for at various times in the past. She would go to N. Dakota every summer and since school was
out for the summer, I would run the newspaper for her while she was gone.
During our conversation that day, she mentioned that “Vickie’s Exchange,” a newspaper in the League City area that a woman started in her garage, had just been sold for $1 million. I had an epiphany right there on the telephone and by the time I hung up I had
already plotted my next career.
When I went to school the next day and announced my intention in the teacher’s lounge, several friends came up to me and whispered in my ear that they would like to join me as they were tired of teaching and would help me while they decided what they wanted
to do with the rest of their lives.
The teacher friends were volunteers; the family members were drafted.
I rented a warehouse/office space at the corner of Murphy Road and Hwy. 90-A. I soon discovered that 35 trains a day came roaring by there but that’s another story.
I hired another friend to drop a ceiling and build some layout tables.
My schoolteacher friends manned the front desk, kept books, typed copy, and sold ads. My daughter Sherry and niece Lisa wrote stories, designed ads and even delivered papers to young carriers. My cousin Dian was the first news editor. I wrote, sold, and threw
papers. My son Michael was in charge of carrier payroll, emptied trash, swept up, and later, when he was old enough to drive, delivered newspapers and collected money from advertisers.
It has been a 31 year wild ride. We have worked hard, but had a lot of fun. In the first years, we were so broke, I didn’t get a new pair of shoes for more than two years. My daughter worked her way through college; my son worked his way through high school.
Along the way, we all fell in love with the newspaper business and offers to buy us out were rejected. We came for the money but stayed for the fun.
Along the way we met some wonderful people, some of whom are still at the Star.
When Sherry and Lisa went back to college after that first summer, Carol Niemann showed up to work on ads and has been here ever since except for a brief hiatus when she got tired of deadlines.
Cheryl Skinner came close to the beginning also when Houston Community Newspapers closed the old Suburbia in Rosenberg.
Lisa Long used to drive home from college on the weekends to send out billing for ads. After graduation and marriage, she has stayed on part time (mostly) for 21 years.
I remember when Millie Houser started. I ran an ad looking for someone with two mouths, four arms, and eight ears and the ability to keep them all straight. She answered and has been at the Star for 17 years.
News Editor Jean Sandlin has been at the Star off and on for 26 years, first as a part time columnist then lately as news editor.
Becky Hall, Ann Sturrock and Carolyn Reed have been advising our customers about their ads in the Fort Bend Star and the Fort Bend Business Journal for a combined total of about 35 years.
Joey Belleza is our graphic designer. He’s a relative newcomer at only nine years.
Heather Clingenpeel, Wanda Lockhart, Shelia Washington, Danna Fertsch and Dottie Childs, who’s back for another stint after a year’s absence, round out our sales team.
Throughout the past 31 years the Star has remained constant. We’ve had some rough patches and struggles but throughout it all we’ve remained true to our core values of producing the best newspaper for our readers and advertisers that we can .. week in and
Looking back over this story, I realize that the geneses of our success as Fort Bend’s number one newspaper has been the people I’ve just mentioned. Many of them have been through it all. They’ve seen the ups and downs, but through it all they have given
their best efforts to the newspaper and the community we serve.
Two more ingredients of our success are our advertisers and our loyal readers. We’ve had some advertisers that have been with us for many, many years - Fresh Air, Dr. Eric Tepper, Ed’s Pharmacy, realtors Virginia Mack, Sylvia Hooke, Joy Roussell, Barbara
Montgomery, Arlene Rolsen, Anita Milne, and David Slavin, and the State Bank of Texas, among others. We’re talking many years here.
And every week we have readers telling us they have been reading the Star for decades.
I think one of the reasons we’ve been successful is because we, every one of us, believe that what we do is important on so many levels. We think it is important that you know what is happening in your community. We think it is important that our advertisers
get their message out and keep our community economically vibrant. We think it is important that garage sales are successful, students are recognized, and elected officials are held responsible.
Weekly community newspapers still are the only providers of much information that is so important to a neighborhood. It’s been a wonderful 31 years and we’re only getting warmed up.