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Art Kowert

Fredericksburg Standard

Hall of Fame Class of 2012

Arthur H. “Art” Kowert, late editor and publisher of the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post, began his career in the newspaper business with the Fredericksburg Standard in June 1934 after receiving a bachelor of business administration degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he also was a member of the university’s first swim team and played trumpet in the Longhorn Band.

For the next 69 years, Kowert exemplified the model weekly newspaper editor, building the Standard into the largest weekly in the state.

Early on at the Standard, he wrote sports, general news and worked in the advertising department, but when editor Robert Klett died in 1940, Kowert took over the paper’s leadership. It was a position that he would hold until January 1980 when he was named publisher and Terry Collier, who joined the newspaper in 1973, became editor. In 1984, the Fredericksburg Standard acquired it competitor across the street, The Radio Post, and the names of the two newspapers were combined.

A decade after becoming an editor, Kowert served as president of the South Texas Press Association in 1944-45.

A decade after that, he served as president of Texas Press Association in 1953-54, presiding over the association’s Diamond Jubilee Convention at Fort Worth in 1954.

At the TPA convention in 1984 at Corpus Christi, he was presented the association’s Golden 50 Award for his 50 years in the newspaper business. In 1994, TPA named him Texas Weekly Publisher of the Year. In 1995, the Headliners Foundation of Texas presented him with the Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award. In 2000, he received the South Texas Press Association’s prestigious Chester Evans Award.

In 1968, Kowert and a group of Central Texas newspaper publishers established a central offset printing plant in Fredericksburg and for many years served as president of Hill Country Community Press, which today prints more than a dozen newspapers.

Long active in civic and church work, Kowert was president of the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce, the Fredericksburg Independent School District board of trustees, the Lions Club and Bethany Lutheran Church Council. The chamber of commerce honored him with its Outstanding Young Man Award in 1944, its Outstanding Boss Award in 1958 and its Outstanding Chamber Man Award in 1988.

Kowert was awarded the Silver Beaver Award by the Boy Scouts of America Capitol Area Council in 1950 and the Lamb Award from the National Lutheran Committee on Scouting in 1959 for distinguished service to boyhood in the Lutheran Church.

Kowert served on the Fredericksburg Centennial in 1946, the community’s 125th anniversary celebration in 1971, the Marktplatz Redevelopment Commission and on the original committees to begin Night In Old Fredericksburg and the Easter Fires Pageant.

In 1982, the Texas Highway Department presented him with its Road Hand Award for his long support of improvements to the state’s highway and transportation systems. In 1997, Kowert and his wife, Elise, were presented with a Stars of Texas Award by the Gillespie County Historical Society for their historical preservation work.

Kowert served as family photographer for President Lyndon B. Johnson while he was a U.S. senator and vice president, and in retirement, mostly at the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall. Kowert was present for every news conference at the ranch during the Johnson presidency and when press conferences were held in Fredericksburg.

Kowert died Feb. 19, 2003, a day after finishing his “Around the Square” column, which he had written every week for the Standard since May 26, 1948.

He was inducted into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame in ceremonies at the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport Hotel in 2012 as one of four members of the Hall’s sixth class of honorees.