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The Handbook of Texas

William P. Hobby

Houston Post

Hall of Fame Class of 2011

William P. Hobby is the only member of the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame who not only was a publisher, but also Governor of the State of Texas.

Born in Moscow, Texas, in 1878, Hobby moved to Houston with his family in 1893. After attending Houston High School, he became a circulation clerk for the Houston Post in 1895 and was promoted to business writer in August 1901. He became the city editor, ten managing editor of the Post. In 1907 he left the Post, however, to become manager and part owner of the Beaumont Enterprise, and he acquired the entire paper shortly thereafter.

Hobby had been active in Democratic Party politics in Houston and continued to be in Beaumont. He was elected lieutenant governor
of Texas in 1914 and re-elected in 1916.

Governer HobbyBetween 1915 and 1917, Gov. James Edward Ferguson ran into troubles when he tried to pressure University of Texas officials into firing several professors he found objectionable. Among academic programs he disliked was journalism, which Ferguson called wasteful fluff. In 1916, he vetoed the university’s entire appropriation.

This was too much for the Legislature, which voted to impeach him. In the summer of 1917, the Texas Senate convicted him of ten charges, including bribery, mismanagement of public funds, and his actions against the university.

This put the Senate’s presiding officer, Lt. Gov. Hobby, in the Governor’s Mansion. At age 39, he became the youngest man ever to be governor. In 1918, Hobby won the governor’s office by the largest majority ever received in a Democratic primary.

After completing his term, he returned to the Beaumont Enterprise and purchased the competing Beaumont Journal. He retained control of both papers for more than a decade.

In 1924, he became president of the Houston Post-Dispatch, which was then owned by Ross Sterling, founder of the Humble Oil Co. (now ExxonMobil) and later to become governor of Texas (1931-33). Hobby maintained executive control of the newspaper until 1939, when he bought it outright.
In 1931 he married Oveta Culp Hobby, who would later become the first secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. In August 1955, Hobby became chairman of the board of the Houston Post Company, which also included the radio station KPRC and the television station KPRC-TV, with his wife as president and editor.

Hobby died in Houston on June 7, 1964. The William P. Hobby Airport and Hobby Middle School in Houston are named in his honor. His son, William P. Hobby Jr., was then president of the Houston Post for 20 years, until the family sold it in 1983. The son also was elected lieutenant governor of Texas, serving a record 18 years from 1973 to 1991.

Hobby was inducted into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame during ceremonies in San Marcos in 2011 as one of four members of the Hall’s fifth class of honorees.