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A Look Into Rockwall County History: Jane Gorden Bounds and The Success

Jane Bounds at The Rockwall Texas Success office. The Success was originally printed using a hot metal typesetting system called a linotype machine. Jane replaced it with a compugraphic phototypesetting machine when she re-modeled in 1979, making The Success home to one of the first computers in Rockwall. Here she is pictured with more modern computers in the mid-1980s.

(ROCKWALL, TX — September 27, 2017) “Dedicated to the best interests of Rockwall.” It was the slogan emblazoned beneath the masthead of one of Rockwall’s most treasured newspaper publications, and it was the motto by which Jane Gorden Bounds lived her life.

The Rockwall Texas Success newspaper was first established at 114 N. San Jacinto Street back in 1883. Jane’s husband Philip J. Bounds Jr. (P.J. Jr.) purchased the business along with his father in 1949. It was the beginning of a new era in Rockwall journalism, filled with stories that knit the community together as they were penned with hardworking hands clad in their signature red nail polish.

From the beginning, Jane relentlessly pursued strong relationships with the entire Rockwall community. Although she and her husband were initially partners in publication, in 1961 P.J. Jr. joined The Cottrell Company, which built offset printing machines for newspapers. Jane welcomed her new role as the primary editor and publisher of The Success.

Gill Henson, one of Jane’s closest friends, said The Success was a staple in Rockwall life, all thanks to Jane.

The Rockwall Texas Success was a very well written weekly periodical that served as the heart, soul and conscience of Rockwall County,” Henson said. “Everyone got the local, state and national news this way. You got Jane’s take of the news of the week in her column. When something needed to be said or someone was in need, Jane got the word out. Jane was the complete woman… business woman, reporter, and writer. She could run a printing press, set type if she had to, had perfect punctuation and sentence structure and all the while a wife, mother of two girls, a great cook, an entertainer, and the best neighbor and friend anyone would ever have the pleasure of knowing.”

The Rockwall Texas Success building after its remodeling spearheaded by Jane Bounds in 1979. The two pillars of rock were built out of stones taken from the famous rock wall that gives our town its name. This space was later occupied by the Dallas Morning News, where our managing editor, Dawn Redig, served as Rockwall editor, prior to launching Blue Ribbon News. Enjoy! Kitchen Essentials is now located in this space.

Jane’s daughter Joy Bounds Greenwalt said the key to her mother’s success stemmed from two things: a listening ear, and respect.

“She had a respect for people that lends itself to tolerance,” Greenwalt said.

Greenwalt described Jane’s office as having an open door policy: anyone who needed to talk about their troubles found a pot of coffee or an ice cold Dr. Pepper awaiting them and a true confidant in Jane.

Henson said the bonds she fostered with Rockwall citizens were what drew people both to the publication and to Jane herself.

“Rockwall was very tight knit in those years,” Henson said. “Everyone knew Jane—she carried the whole community. She knew your story. She always tried to find the positive in everybody. A lot of times she didn’t have to go out and search for news: it found her. ”

Henson said that Jane was involved in every church in town, so much so that people assumed she was a member at each location. When she wasn’t writing articles, running the press, or caring for her family, she was supporting her community in any way she could.

“Jane attended practically every wedding and funeral in the city as she knew most of those involved personally,” Henson said. “Jane was always a champion for women and children and those down on their luck. She was not judgmental and gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. Jane knew all the ministers, justice of the peace, judges, the sheriff and an array of locals to call or direct them to for assistance. Often, without hesitation she would reach into her own pocketbook to give them money for meals, a room, to post bond or whatever need they had and she never expected to be repaid.”

One of Jane’s greatest loves was the Rockwall Yellowjackets football team. Henson said that you could always find Jane clad in her signature red, except during major football games.

“She would have orange fingernails and an orange jacket, and she was screaming the loudest,” Henson said.

Greenwalt said Jane loved covering the games for The Success, and the community loved to see their team in the news.

“She seldom missed a Friday night football game,” Greenwalt said. “One Monday morning, the Yellowjacket football photos and article would find its prominent place on the front page.”

Joy Bounds Greenwalt stands behind her mother, Jane Gorden Bounds in her office at The Rockwall Texas Success in 1986. Joy worked at the newspaper for several years after she graduated from college.

At home games, Jane was always welcomed into the press box in spite of the fact that all of the other occupants were men. On one memorable occasion, when Rockwall played Alpine in the State semi-finals at San Angelo State University Stadium, Jane was not permitted inside the press box simply because she was a woman. Examples of other female reporters treated in the same manner were cited by authorities at the stadium. Greenwalt said that did not stop Jane from covering the game in its entirety.

“She stood out on the sidelines in the cold and in her high heels and covered the football game,” Greenwalt said. “She was such a lady about it all. She told them in a very dignified voice that she would be back.”

Upon her return to Rockwall, Jane decided that she did not want the same experience to happen to someone else. So, she turned to her traditional method for creating change: ink and paper.

Here is an excerpt from the column she published about the incident in The Rockwall Texas Success in January 1972:

On this date, your spokesman for The Rockwall Texas Success was denied the right to stay in the Press Box at San Angelo, because of the fact that she is a woman. A sign posted in the press section clearly stated this ruling. The experience, we must admit, was embarrassing, as well as humiliating, since Rockwall’s citizens traveled to West Texas via chartered airplanes, buses, and every mode of transportation. The hometown newspaper, we felt, was their spokesman.

Repeating the words of a local school official, we think this is a ‘horse and buggy’ approach. Certainly not in tune with the seventies.

In the capacity of a woman publisher for some twelve years, and an associate in the publishing field for fifteen years, we have not campaigned in behalf of women activists of women’s liberation movements. Nor have we ever gone on record endorsing equal rights for women—per se, until now. We plead cause in the interests of our rights representing the fourth estate, the newspaper press.”

As a result of her article, San Angelo State University removed the sign and the policy. Women were allowed inside their press box from then on, and a public apology was issued to the citizens of Rockwall.

Greenwalt said that although Jane was not afraid of doing business in what was largely a man’s world, she never sacrificed the femininity of her nature.

“She was charming. She didn’t bully her way in, it came with ease,” Greenwalt said. “She could balance life so wonderfully in that she could be so feminine and a wonderful mother, and a successful business woman at the same time.”

As another testament to her involvement in the community, Jane was named the first woman in the Rockwall Noon Rotary Club. She received numerous awards throughout her lifetime, including Rockwall Soroptomist Women of Distinction, Daughters of the American Revolution Community Service Award, Community Builder Award Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas East Trinity 157, Lambda Upsilon Award for dedication and service, Rockwall Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Merchant Award, Rockwall High School Alumni Service  Award, and more.

Although Jane sold The Rockwall Texas Success in 1988 and later passed away in 2012, her legacy lives on in Rockwall.

“She believed that hometown news was good news and helped to build community spirit,” Greenwalt said. “She took her job very seriously. It was more than just work: she cared about the community.”

By Julie Anne White, Blue Ribbon News. Photos courtesy of Joy Bounds Greenwalt.

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