Public wishes News editor fair sailing in retirement

Published 6:44 pm Wednesday, December 14, 2016

In 1976, the nation was celebrating its bicentennial, Gerald Ford was president, “Rocky” was playing at the box office and the Pittsburgh Steelers were world champions.

1976 was also the year Managing Editor Roger Cowles started working for The Port Arthur News. Forty years later, Cowles’ family and friends were helping him celebrate at his retirement reception on Wednesday at the Carl Parker Multipurpose Center at Lamar State College- Port Arthur.

Cowles’ family said they were excited and happy for his retirement.

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“Yea! It’s about time,” said his sister Regina Kelly. “We know(Cowles’ wife) Celines (Delvalle) is most excited.”

Robbie Bethea, his other sister, also attended the reception.

“He devoted time to his job most faithfully. More than anyone else I know,” Kelly said.

Son Jack N. Cowles said his father still has a lot of good years left.

Speaking on her husband’s career, Delvalle said she likes the local content of The News because it contains information networks such as CNN don’t carry.

“I want to find out what’s happening in my community,” she said.

His father, Jack B. Cowles, said when his wife passed away she asked her son to promise to take care of his dad and Cowles hasn’t failed.

In fact, the family uses a rotation system to care for Jack B. Cowles.

Most of the family meets for lunch at the dinner table everyday.

Officer Rickey Antoine of the Port Arthur Police Department thanked Cowles for the opportunity to write his “Ask A Cop” column.

Verna Rutherford with Motiva Enterprises said Cowles’ retirement will be a “huge loss.”

“We grew up near each other. He has always been a friend of mine and he’s done a tremendous job for the newspaper and he’s been outstanding in the community,” she said.

Ron Arceneaux, an engineer with Arceneaux, Wilson & Cole, said he’s been knowing Cowles for 35 years. They worked in the same building on Turtle Creek Drive.

“He’s always been a prime professional at his craft. I’ve always enjoined reading his past editorials and he’s a supporter of our community,” he said.

Janet Cline worked with Cowles at The News in the 1980s. She was typing obituaries while Cowles was running copy when they first met.

“I always enjoyed working with Roger and we’ve been friends. He’s done a great job,” Cline said.

Carl Parker, former state senator, joked being an editor of a local newspaper is like being a Baptist preacher — sooner or later they’ll be run off.

He said he was really impressed with Cowles staying 40 years at The News.

“He’s an asset to the community. I hate to see him go,” Parker said.

Mark Porterie, superintendent of the Port Arthur ISD, joked to Cowles, “Don’t go!”

“On behalf of the Port Arthur Independent School District we want to congratulate Roger on a beautiful career in journalism and as a supporter of the Port Arthur Independent School District.”

“We appreciate his wonderful articles he has written, the compliments he has given us and the words to redirect us when needed. It’s been balanced reporting,” he said.

Paul Brown, former city editor for The News, said he learned the newspaper business from Cowles.

“I was a reporter for five to six years then became city editor,” Brown said. “I then defected to the Beaumont Enterprise but went back to Port Arthur.”

“The newsroom was a wonderful place. It was one big family. I probably cursed more than anyone there. It was the most fun and freest work environment I have ever had. Roger was a big part of that. We were screaming and yelling across the office. I couldn’t even list all the things he taught me.”

Kristyn Hunt-Cathey, PAISD media/communications specialist, said Cowles helped her to become a better writer.

“I actually was an editorial assistant during my senior year in college,” Hunt-Cathey said. “It was really awesome working with him. I was a mass communication major, but he made me feel like I wanted to be a main reporter.”

In return, Hunt-Cathey taught Cowles’ daughter at Lamar University.

“Roger is the greatest asset to Port Arthur and the PAISD. He’s an advocate for truth and the community. We’re excited for him retiring.”

Billy Worsham, former athletic director for Lamar State College-Port Arthur, knows Cowles through the Rotary Club and his work in the community.

“We were involved in Rotary Club; we were both past presidents. I probably know him best through the Rotary Club,” he said.

Worsham said one of his fondest memories of Cowles was probably the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Rita.

Worsham and others were hosting 1,000 tree trimmers and electric line people in the Parker Center. None of them had any connection to the outside world.

Cowles came by during the week with a stack of Port Arthur News newspapers.

“It was a sign that Port Arthur was getting back on its feet and that things were going back to normal,” Worsham said. “That and getting TV hooked back up to watch the game.”

David Ball: 409-721-2427