Texas Newspaper Oral History
Texas Tech Southwest Collection
Lamesa Press Reporter
Hall of Fame Class of 2008
Like many in the newspaper business, Walter Buckel's first love was sports. He not only became publisher of the Lamesa Press Reporter,
He played a summer of amateur baseball in Manhattan, Kan., and for the Lamesa Lobos of the Class D, West Texas-New Mexico League. His career then included stints at Pampa and Idaho Falls (Idaho) before he was called into service with the U.S. Air Force.
After two years overseas, as a radio operator in North Africa, he was discharged in November 1945.
Buckel played with the Montgomery (Ala.) Rebels of the Class B, Southeastern League, the Dallas Rebels of the Texas League and then Lubbock and Lamesa where he became the team's business manager.
Prior to his work in newspapers, Buckel spent seven years in radio sales and management. Before that, he worked for Lamesa public schools directing cafeterias and transportation.
He also ran for county clerk and won two-year and four-year terms before resigning in 1957 to enter the insurance business. During this period, Buckel had his own daily radio sports program and was a play-by-play announcer of all sports.
Buckel entered the newspaper business in 1967 when he purchased the Dawson County Free Press in Lamesa. In March 1968, Buckel merged his own newspaper with the Lamesa Reporter, owned by James Roberts of Andrews. The Roberts group then named Buckel president and publisher of the Lamesa Press Reporter.
"Although lacking any formal training and getting into the business relatively late in life, Mr. Buckel was – and still is – a true leader in the field of community journalism," a later Lamesa publisher, Russel Skiles, wrote in the Texas Press Messenger.
"He and his partner, the late James Roberts of Andrews, understood that a newspaper in a small town has a responsibility beyond just reporting the news. They believed the interests of a newspaper and the community it covered went hand-in-hand, each helping determine the fate of the other.
"Their model helped define community journalism."
Buckel was president of the West Texas Press Association in 1982-83. He later served as president of the Texas Press Association in 1985-86.
Buckel married Rubye Neile Mitchell in March 1947 and they had two children. Their son Bob Buckel was TPA president in 2002-03.
He was inducted into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2008 as one of four members of the Hall's second class of honorees.