Journalism alumnus remembers ups, downs during his career ahead of retirement

John Parsons, Staff Reporter

John Parsons
Bob Templeton graduated from A&M-Commerce (then East Texas State University) in 1973 with a degree in photojournalism.

John Parsons | Staff Reporter

Bob Templeton, faculty adviser for Midland College’s student publications and former assistant editor of The East Texan, returned to his alma mater for the annual Texas Community College Journalism Association convention, hosted by A&M – Commerce on Oct. 12.

It had been over a dozen years since his last visit and he recalled that many aspects of the campus seemed familiar while others, such as the Rayburn Student Center, were new to him.

A visit to the Alumni Center was a highlight of the day. Templeton met with Derryle Peace, a 1974 graduate and current director of alumni relations, and both enjoyed reliving their time at TAMUC. Templeton and Peace were able to find common details to discuss even though they had been members of different organizations.

Templeton was a member of Alpha Phi Omega (APO) service organization where he earned an APO Blue Sash and became an officer of the organization, according to an issue of The Locust from 1973. He was also in the “Who’s Who” section of The Locust where a picture shows Templeton seated on the roof of the Journalism Building with two other students.


Templeton grew up living south of Houston and moved to Commerce in 1969 to attend then-East Texas State University. He chose ETSU due to the “good reception” he received.

Templeton married his college sweetheart, Lois Firmin, while in college. He bragged about them being married 48 years. They have two sons, ages 42 and 38.

“E.T. gave me a great start [in my career],” Templeton said.

Upon graduation, Templeton became the educational writer for The Eagle in Bryan/College Station.

His favorite story happened during this portion of his career. During Willie Nelson’s second Fourth of July picnic in 1974 at Texas World Speedway in College Station a grass field used as a parking lot caught fire and destroyed a number of cars, including the car owned by singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen. Templeton got the photo and wrote the article for that breaking story.

Templeton recalls a story he worked on during his time at the Hereford Brand. The Hereford mayor was involved in deciding which car dealership the city would purchase vehicles from and it turned out that it was a conflict of interest. He said the story became difficult to cover because it involved small town people whom he knew and who knew him. One car dealer complained to the publisher of the paper about the story.

The ETSU alumnus has always enjoyed photography and using images to tell stories. He recalled being a photojournalist during Watergate and covering Vice President Gerald Ford when he spoke at the Texas A&M University graduation ceremony in May 1974.

“Ford did not address the possibility of a pardon for President Nixon,” Templeton recalled.


Templeton was the editor of the Hereford Brand for two and a half years. The paper went from being a semi-weekly publication to a daily while under his guidance. However, he “got tired of the newspaper business.”

He attended now-University of North Texas, still called North Texas State University when he went back for his graduate degree. He worked as a graduate assistant and teaching assistant while studying for his graduate degree and received his Master of Journalism degree in 1981.

Templeton was a magazine editor in Dallas from 1978 to 1982. He went to work for Electronic Data Systems during the mid-1980s in their internal public relations office. He then worked statewide public relations for the Texas Credit Union League.

The knowledge and experience he gained at ETSU “taught and guided me for a lifetime,” Templeton said.

In 1986, he became an adjunct faculty member teaching photography and journalism courses at Eastfield College in Mesquite.

That same year he sent his resume around the area and it resulted in three job offers. He accepted an offer from Midland College for their endowed Allison Chair of Journalism where he has taught ever since. Templeton will be retiring from this position in May 2019 after 33 years with the college.

“I’ve done a full career,” Templeton said.

Templeton brought six of his current students to the TCCJA convention where they participated in a mock live news event. The students competed in several categories including live news multimedia, headline writing and more.