Editor’s Note: This is the tenth in a series of weekly articles on individuals, who made positive contributions to Stephenville, the Cross Timbers area and/or the State of Texas. Many other noteworthy individuals, other than those in this series, have made their “mark” in this area. Perhaps some of these persons can be included in future stories.
By STUART CHILTON
His daily column, “I’ll Tell the World,” was a front page fixture in this newspaper for many years.
He often referred to this area of Texas as “The Land of the Blessed.” He truly believed in Stephenville and the Cross Timbers area, and his tireless efforts produced many positive results for this city, Tarleton State College (now University) and the immediate area.
When he died on Sunday morning, Oct. 11, 1964, Stephenville and the Cross Timbers area lost a most dedicated citizen. The lead headline in The Stephenville Empire read, “Funeral Services held … Publisher and Civic Leader Dies Sunday.” He was 69 years old.
This individual was born Jan. 18, 1895, at Lingleville. He later lived in Tolar, where he gained his first newspaper experience. This was followed by work on newspapers at Hamilton, Brady, Knoxville, TN and Post.
He was a veteran of World War I, serving with the 36th Division in France.
He was on active duty from June, 1917 until July, 1919.
This journalist moved to Stephenville from Desdemona in May, 1920. It was at this time that he and J.W. (Wes) Clements of Stephenville formed a partnership to buy The Stephenville Tribune from C.R. Coulter. Ten years later they purchased The Stephenville Empire from their next door business neighbor, W.H. Hawkins. Both papers were combined and renamed The Stephenville Empire-Tribune. The offices were located in the 200 block of West Washington St.
In August, 1947, this person bought Clement’s part, and relocated the newspaper to a building at the corner of West Washington and Columbia Streets.
On January 21, 1921, he married the former Johnnie Sullivan of Comanche. His wife died March 22, 1964. Two sons were born to this marriage. The older son was killed in action during World War II. The younger son later became publisher of The Stephenville Empire-Tribune. He died in the late 1990s.
The following are some of the organizations today’s featured individual held memberships: a 32nd Degree Mason, member of the Shrine, member of the American Legion, member of the First United Methodist Church and church finance chairman,
charter member and President of the Stephenville Rotary Club, charter member
of the Stephenville Lions Club, member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Director of the Brazos River Authority, member of the State Hospital and Special Schools Committee, member of the Texas Press Association, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Stephenville State Bank (now First Financial Bank).
He was a strong supporter of Tarleton, and gave a scholarship each year to the outstanding Plowboy (now Texans) football player.
He is buried in the West End Cemetery.
Stephenville and the Cross Timbers area were fortunate to have this individual as a citizen, who truly loved “The Land of the Blessed.”
A Name to Remember - Mr. Rufus Fielding Higgs
Dr. Chilton, a retired educator/journalist, lives in Stephenville. He occasionally writes for this newspaper.