By Dave Miller
Killeen Daily Herald
Raymond L. "Ray" Townsend, who served as publisher of the Killeen Daily Herald for more than 17 years, died Tuesday while he was visiting his son in Duluth, Ga. He was 84.
Townsend came to Killeen in 1961, accepting a position as the Herald's advertising manager. He was promoted to business manager in 1972 and in 1974 was named publisher, a position he held until his retirement in December 1991.
He was born Dec. 30, 1926, in Childress and was raised in Borger.
After serving in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific during World War II, Townsend returned to Borger, where he accepted a position as advertising representative for the town's newspaper, the Borger News Herald.
He married the former Nelda Joy Fowler on July 3, 1947, in Borger.
In 1960, Townsend became co-owner and business director of the Lovington (N.M.) Daily Leader, before moving to Killeen the following year.
During his tenure in Killeen, Townsend was instrumental in many of the Herald's physical changes, including the move from a cramped building on Avenue D to a new facility on Avenue A and its subsequent additions and remodelings.
After becoming business manager in 1972, and then as publisher, Townsend was involved in construction projects, including helping supervise the construction of the newspaper's current building at Florence Road and Central Texas Expressway. The facility opened in late 1985.
Townsend also witnessed several technical changes in the newspaper during his stint as publisher, including the move from hot type to cold type and the advent of computerized production processes.
Townsend was involved in the conversion of the Herald from a five-day afternoon publication to a six-day paper, and finally to a seven-day morning paper in 1982.
Sue Mayborn, editor and publisher of the Herald and Temple Daily Telegram, was saddened by Townsend's passing.
"Ray was a good friend and a good friend to the Herald," Mayborn said. "He was a longtime, valued employee, and he was well-respected. It's a great loss to his friends and family."
Gerald Skidmore, who served as the Herald's managing editor for more than 40 years until his retirement in 1997, also remembered Townsend fondly.
"Ray was a great boss who allowed us the freedom to do our job, giving us sound advice when asked and strong support when we needed it," Skidmore said. "He will be greatly missed by all of us who knew him not only as our publisher but also as a good and loyal friend."
During his time in Killeen, Townsend was heavily involved in the community.
In 1985, he was recognized for some of his achievements, receiving the Commander's Award for Public Service from Lt. Gen. Walter Ulmer, the commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood.
Townsend served on the Killeen Planning and Zoning Commission; as vice president and board member of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce; on the board of directors of the Killeen Industrial Foundation; as director of the Bell County Child Welfare Board; and on the board of directors of Killeen Crime Stoppers, as well as many other advisory positions.
In addition, Townsend served on the Board of Governors of the Association of the United States Army and was a former chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee of the GKCC.
He was also active in the Rotary Club, having served as president of the Killeen Rotary Club, and was installed in the Rotary International District 587 Hall of Fame.
Townsend was preceded in death by his wife in March 2009.
Funeral services are pending with Harrell Funeral Home in Dublin.