Monday, August 10, 2015

Segregationist publisher, former Flagler College VP Dies -- Not one word of regret or healing for his hateful words against Dr. King, Civil Rights

Former Record publisher leaves behind legacy of community involvement
Posted: August 9, 2015 - 11:53pm
Those who knew him well described Alfred Hugh “Hoop” Tebault as a very good-natured man with a big smile, good laugh and a golf swing more unorthodox than Charles Barkley’s.
“His golf swing was as gall (sic) and affirmant as his personality,” said William Proctor, former president of Flagler College. “But I’ll tell you one thing: You’ll never find a more loyal friend than Hoop.”
Having been a St. Augustinian since he turned 1, Tebault grew to be an active member of the local community as The Record’s publisher, a Rotarian, an original member of the St. Augustine Rod and Gun Club, first president of the Navy League of St. Johns County and more.
Along the way, he made lifelong friends.
He died Saturday in his home with his family at his side.
Living in his memory
Born July 24, 1935, in Tallahassee, 1-year-old “Hoop” Tebault and his family moved to St. Augustine when his father purchased the St. Augustine Record.
He grew up in one of only four houses on Anastasia Island and delivered newspapers on his bicycle.
A graduate of Ketterlinus High School, he went on to get a degree in journalism from Florida State University.
Before following in his father’s footsteps by working at The Record, Tebault joined the United States Marine Corps. He returned to take over newspaper when his father passed away.
His list of community involvements is lengthy and included his membership in Trinity Episcopal Church and Ponce de Leon Country Club.
Eddy Mussallem recalls working with Tebault, or “Hoop,” when he served in the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce.
Mussallem said the two had some good times, enjoying afternoon drinks and traveling.
“I miss him,” Mussallem said. “I’m not going to nearly as many weddings as I am funerals.”
The last time the two were together, they were quail hunting.
Pheasants took off running and Tebault started calling out to get them, Mussallem said. The dogs would give a funny look to anyone who missed their shot.
Tebault was known as an avid fisherman, hunter and overall adventurer.
“We had some good times,” Mussallem said.
Higher learning
After selling The Record, Tebault moved onto a new project and became heavily involved in Flagler College.
At the request of the college’s founder and Proctor, Tebault joined the staff as vice president of college relations.
“Tebault was a friend of the college since day one,” Proctor said. “That’s my opinion.”
Proctor said it was Tebault who introduced him to the who’s who of St. Augustine, helping him get better acquainted with the community.
Tebault purchased Flagler Field, developed the President’s Council and a number of other projects creating avenues of giving.
“If ‘Hoop’ was your friend, he was your friend. He didn’t cut any corners,” Proctor said.
Current Flagler College President William Abare knew Tebault back in the 1970s.
“He was a real extrovert in every since of the word,” Abare said. “He certainly wasn’t a shrinking violet when it came to letting folks know how he thought things should be done.”
Abare said Tebault was there helping to initiate several of the college’s milestones, and he was the right man for the job.
“Hoop had a genuine love and affection for his family and friends, and he loved his community,” Abare said. “But he also understood his own personal value.”
Tebault is survived by his wife of 25 years, Barbara Jo.
He is also survived by his children, Jane Elizabeth Tebault, David Tillman Griffith, Amy Griffith Capp and her husband, Richard.
In an obituary prepared by Barbara, he is remembered as a “wonderful, loving and generous ‘Gran’Pa’ to his adored grandchildren,” Amanda, Tyler, Isabel, Oliver and Jennifer and great-grandchildren, Tristan and Trinity.

Jim Sutton: 'Hoopie' & the kid
Posted: August 22, 2015 - 11:08pm
Opinion Page Editor
Obituaries can be understandably deceptive. You’ll never see a quote from a dear friend that reads “Danny was a thoughtless man, who set low goals for himself and consistently failed to reach them.” That would be, at once, both bad taste and bad timing.

I was thinking about that last week as I read “Hoop” Tebault’s obituary. While it’s true that he could be “very good-natured with a big smile,” that was not ... well, always the case.

I thought Dr. Bill Proctor made words shine, and walked the tightrope of tact and truth perfectly, when he told The Record “His golf swing was as gall and affirmant as his personality.” My dictionary defines gall as “bold, impudent behavior.” Affirm means “asserts.”

If you knew Hoop at all, bold, assertive and impudent fit one side of the man — caring and kind another. But I think he set his autopilot to the former, and switched on the latter more when his heart got personally involved.

I met him around 1973. I was working on the Flagler College newspaper staff. Hoop was the faculty adviser and the publisher of The Record. It was a time when the question of First Amendment rights on college campuses was widely argued — and subsequently settled by the Supreme Court.

Yes, college newspapers did have these rights, the Justices declared. But not private colleges. And that was to become the next cause célèbre, for constitutional intellectuals and Jeffersonian youth alike.

Our college newspaper was not “newsy” in the sense of hard news. But I had written an “investigative piece” about the school’s student activity fund, saying that the money wasn’t going strictly where the school said it was going. And truly it wasn’t, but neither was it intentional nor was it enough money to make a fuss.

The night prior to publication of that story. a few newspaper staffers labored over the edition in the old Traveler office on Grenada Street. Around 11 p.m. we were waxing copy and pasting it up for that issue of the Gargoyle, when Hoop strode into the room — dark and blustery, like a thunderhead. He’d heard about the story, and saw the 48-point headline there on the front page galley. He grabbed all of the pages, twisted them up into a bundle and deposited them in a 55-gallon garbage can. There would be no newspaper this month, he declared as he walked out the door. That was the first, but not the last time that happened.

Over the next couple of years, our relationship continued to curdle. He was ceaselessly “affirmant” with me. My attitude toward him was as “gall” as ever.

After I graduated. (to the surprise and delight of college administration), I was at the college a couple days later when Hoop’s path and mine intersected in the rotunda. I felt him coming before I saw him. If you knew him you’d understand.

He walked up, resumed our familiar social stature — his face in mine — and said, “Sutton, what are you going to do?” Turns out he meant with my life. I admitted that I hadn’t given that a lot of thought, although I was now officially a college grad with major in geography and a minor in BS. The possibilities were not endless. “You might make a decent newspaper man, ever thought of that?” No, I admitted.

He scribbled down a name and a number. “Call him. I told him you would.” He shook my hand and walked away.

I called “him,” the publisher of a string of weekly newspapers up around Madison, Fla.

I have to tell this story.

The publisher hired me on the spot as the reporter for a tiny newspaper, The White Springs Leader. The newspaper office was in the back of an office supply store in the shadow of the Stephen Foster Memorial.

My first day at work was a week later. I walked into the office and asked for the editor whom I had only spoken with by phone — Bruce something-or-other. Casey, the girl who sold the paper clips, told me she was glad I was there because Bruce had taken the petty cash box over the weekend and disappeared.

I drove 50 miles to the publisher’s office in Madison and told him what happened. My new boss, Tommy Green, did not blink. He stuck out this ham hock of a hand, shook mine and said “Congratulations, you’re the editor.”

Six months later when another editor disappeared, I was promoted to a bigger, tiny paper in Mayo, Fla. There, I wrote stories about flu-cured tobacco, church socials and high school quarterback Kerwin Bell, the “Thrwoin’ Mayoan.”

I picked up most of the chatter sitting in Hilda’s Cup & Saucer Cafe, especially on Fridays when the buffet featured fried mullet and fresh swamp cabbage.

And that began two of the more memorable years of my life, sleeping in the back room of a office supply store, bathing, for the most part, in the bathroom sink or the little springs only locals knew about. I was invited often to have supper with most all the families in Lafayette County who owned their own churches. It was a dictum in Mayo that if you didn’t like who was in your church or your deer camp, build your own. Many did.

To my surprise, the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors declared, at the yearly awards banquet, that I had become the youngest newspaper editor in the history of the Florida Press Association.

What they did not say or know was that the only reason that was true was due to the larceny and sloth of my predecessor. From the dearth of awards garnered that first year, I was also the worst newspaper editor in the FPA.

Two years later, I went to work for The Record.

Hoop and I never became what you’d call running buddies, but he lent me his deer rifle once. We shared a canoe in a little bass pond on a drizzly afternoon. And he took me quail hunting to his place in Statesboro, Ga. I’ve always liked to believe that, in his world, accounted for something.

There is no doubt the chance meeting with Hoop that day changed everything. I can’t imagine where I’d be today, but it couldn’t be better that where I am.

Hoop Tebault was, in a word, a hard-a**.

I think he’d appreciate that estimation. He would also have balked at the use of the double-asterisk, as did I, recognizing it as a malady — newspapers’ decline into correctness over candor.

He told his truth whether those listening liked it or not. Apparently he was OK with people who gave it right back. But you’d be hard-pressed to hear it from him.

I was lucky I did.

He saw something newsworthy, so to speak, in an obstinate young man. Autopilot apparently on “off,” he pointed me toward life. I won’t forget him.

And, you should know, this is the first time in my life I ever called him any thing but “Mr. Tebault.”

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