Mary Henkel Judson
Port Aransas South Jetty
Hall of Fame Class of 2013
Texas Press Association’s 113th president, Mary Henkel Judson, is a trailblazer in the Texas newspaper industry. More than 100 years after the foundation of Texas Press Association, Judson became the first woman to lead the organization.
She is the second woman to be inducted in the TNF Hall of Fame, following TPA’s 118th president, Sarah L. Greene, in 2010.
Judson, editor and co-publisher of the Port Aransas South Jetty, has been a leader in the industry since a young age. She was elected the second woman to serve as president of the South Texas Press Association in her mid-twenties.
In fact, she grew up in the newspaper business. Her parents, “Cap” and “Kitty” Henkel, published the Refugio County Press. Her mother was a strong role model and “probably one of the early feminists,” she told Wanda Cash, TPA president 2004-05, in an interview for the Texas Newspaper Oral History project.
Her first paying job was as a columnist for the Refugio County Press. As a fifth-grade student in 1963, she wrote “Junior Beat” about the comings and goings of elementary and middle school students. She went on to write a similar column as a student at Refugio High School.
Judson attended Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos and worked at the San Marcos Record when it became a daily. She later transferred to the University of Texas, where she majored in journalism and worked as a summer intern at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
There she met her future husband, Murray Judson, a staff photographer. Mary and Murray married in April 1976 and later moved to Refugio where they assumed editor and publisher positions from her parents, who were retiring.
In 1981, the Judsons purchased the Port Aransas South Jetty, followed by the Refugio County Press and later the Goliad Advance-Guard with George Phenix.
Port Aransas, a beach community on the Gulf Coast, isn’t your typical Texas town. It’s a “reporter’s heaven,” Judson said. During her time on the island, she’s covered everything from necropsies of beached whales to the plight of Cuban refugees. There’s no shortage of interesting issues to cover in the community.
In addition to being a lifelong journalist and pioneer for women in the industry, Judson has served as president of South Texas Press Association (1980-81) and Texas Gulf Coast Press Association (1994-95). Mary and Murray are currently serving as co-presidents of TGCPA for 2012-13.