Following Friday afternoon’s Texas Press Association luncheon in Round Rock, Gladewater Mirror Publisher Jim Bardwell (right) poses with son Josh, and daughter-in-law Jennifer – the late Suzanne Bardwell was inducted into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame and Jim Bardwell was honored for his 50 years in the newspaper industry.
To her students, to her readers and to her colleagues in the newspaper industry, Suzanne Bardwell was a dynamic presence, a driving force and advocate for journalism – one who earned a place in the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame.
“When Suzanne Bardwell passed away suddenly on Jan. 7, 2022, the breadth and depth of her contribution to community journalism was instantly brought into sharp focus,” according to her colleagues in the Texas Press Association who inducted the longtime teacher and journalist into the ranks of decades of honorees Friday afternoon.
In the same June 2 ceremony, the journalists from across the state gathered in Round Rock also honored Gladewater Mirror Publisher Jim Bardwell with the association’s Golden 50 Award during their annual TPA Convention & Trade Show.
The Texas Newspaper Foundation’s annual hall of fame ceremonies honor inductees for exemplary service to their communities and to the whole of the newspaper industry.
Suzanne Bardwell worked at Gilmer, Spring Hill and White Oak ISDs during her 33 years in the classroom and, in 2013, was named the Max R. Haddick Teacher of the Year by the University Interscholastic League. “The award is presented annually to the best high school journalism instructor in Texas,” according to TPA, an organization in which she was a multiple award winner for columns, photography, news writing and community service. “She supported a number of causes, most notably saving the Gladewater Library from closing after the 2021 Texas winter storm severely damaged the facility. She was a fierce advocate for the First Amendment, writing about it frequently and contacting lawmakers about issues that threatened those rights.
For Tommy Thomason, founder and former director of the Texas Center of Community Journalism, a legacy like Suzanne Bardwell’s towers over cathedrals and outlasts works of art.
“The mark of greatness is people who pour their lives into other people,” he praised. “And that is what Suzanne did.
“There are thousands of people whose lives are forever different because they encountered Suzanne.”
Throughout their 47 years of marriage until her death early last year, Suzanne was in the trenches alongside her husband across multiple publications and organizations.
An East Texas native born in Longview, Jim Bardwell’s journalism career officially began in the early 1970s – he cut his teeth working on newspaper staffs at Longview High School, Kilgore College and East Texas State University. Technically, the longtime writer, photographer and publisher (who also owns Lindale News and Times) had his first foray into journalism at ‘The Daily Planet,’ a self-published 3 cent-per-week news-sheet published with two fellow fifth graders.
Decades on, Bardwell persists in his craft, ever-supported by his son, Josh, and daughter-in-law Jennifer, who attended Friday’s Hall of Fame induction and Golden 50 honors.
“For 50 years Jim has tried to be the watchdog for the people when it came to local government,” according to Texas Press. Among an array of volunteer endeavors with Gladewater Round-Up Rodeo, Gusher Days, and numerous other projects, “He has always reminded government officials that the budget – whether it be city, county or state – is the people’s money. Sometimes they forget that – and need to be reminded.”
Other Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame inductees June 2 include Dave Campbell of Texas Football Magazine who died in 2021 and retired newspaper veteran Larry C. Jackson. Three additional Golden 50 Award honorees included Donnis Baggett (Dallas Morning News), Budd Kennedy (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and Mary Judson (Port Aransas South Jetty).