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Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame

Deskins "Deck" Wells

Deskins Wells
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Deskins "Deck" Wells

Wellington Leader

Hall of Fame Class of 2020

As the Great Depression drew to a close and Texas Panhandle communities recovered from the Dust Bowl, H. Deskins “Deck” Wells managed Texas Press Association’s business and publications almost single-handedly. He served as president of the association in 1938-39 and as executive director from 1941 to 1947.

Wells guided the association through fuel and paper shortages, working from his newspaper office in the Texas Panhandle city of Wellington, some 280 miles from Dallas, 400 miles from Austin and more than 500 miles from Houston.

Wells was born near Wellington in Collingsworth County in 1902. He attended Canyon Normal College, now West Texas A&M University at Canyon, from 1919 to 1921. He went on to enroll at the University of Texas at Austin and graduate in 1923 with a bachelor’s degree. He extended his education at UT, serving on the editorial staff of The Daily Texan and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1924.

After graduation, he returned to Wellington and was hired by his cousin, J. Claude Wells, owner of The Wellington Leader. J. Claude Wells sold a half interest in the newspaper to Wells and together, the two expanded their holdings, acquiring a nearby newspaper, the Memphis Democrat, in 1925. In 1929 he sold J. Claude Wells his half interest in the Memphis Democrat and in 1931 he acquired full ownership of the Wellington Leader. His popular column “Deck’s Didactics” covered topics from international politics to the day-to-day activities of people in his county. Wildlife, geography, the changing seasons, the sky and the stars inspired some of his best writing. The column won many awards, drawing accolades from daily and weekly newspapers across the state. The Leader also won notice as the first newspaper in Texas to publish a history of its hometown.

“Biggest mistake made by journalism school graduates is that of choosing country newspaper work because they think it will give them plenty of time to hunt and fish,” Wells once said. “I haven’t had time to do either — nor to raise chickens — for the 15 years I have been working on and publishing the Leader.”

Wells published the newspaper more than 50 years before his death in 1976. During those years, Wells also rose in service to his community and to the region, serving first as a Wellington alderman, as mayor from 1933 to 1937 and as a president of the Panhandle Press Association.

From the beginning of his work as editor, his obituary states, Wells supported better roads when there was no pavement and better schools because he believed the county’s children were its greatest resources. Wells’ leadership extended into many other fields: hospital and health care, strengthening the country’s agricultural base, development of recreation and preservation of the county’s heritage.