Over the course of almost 40 years, Jerry Aulds dedicated his time to capturing stories about the people and the community he came to know and love in the pages of the El Campo Leader-News. Now retired, he turned 80 on Wednesday, July 29.
Aulds moved to League City a few years ago to live with his son, T.J. Aulds. Today, he resides with sister Cheyenne Martin in Galveston.
Martin had hoped Aulds could return to El Campo to celebrate this milestone with friends, but said the coronavirus changed those plans. According to Martin, she and her brother spent his birthday at home.
“It was low key ... carry out,” she said. “We were going to do something big in El Campo for his 80th. With all this virus, we realized we weren’t going to be able to do that.”
But plans are to have a get-together with Aulds’ children, T.J. and daughter Shannon Matus, hopefully next week.
For those who’ve inquired about Aulds and how he is doing, Martin says her brother is in ill health, but is “his cheerful self and such a sweetheart.”
Aulds has fond memories of El Campo and the people he left behind she said.
“He just loves El Campo. He has wonderful memories,” she said. “We were coming back and forth to El Campo” to visit friends and attend First Baptist Church where he was a member.
Aulds was born in Amarillo and reared in Borger, the son of an oil field man. He did some writing in high school and his teachers realized his talent. He left for the U.S. Navy right after high school where he served his time as a minesweeper and then attended the University of Texas at Austin to study journalism.
He came to El Campo in 1976 after becoming acquainted with Dick Elam, who was a journalism professor at UT and part owner of the El Campo Leader-News. While at UT, he struck up a friendship with El Campoan Chris Barbee, a journalism major who also convinced him to come to El Campo where Aulds took a job at KULP Radio and wrote a weekly column for the newspaper.
“They (Elam and Barbee) persuaded him to come to El Campo and work at the radio station,” Martin said.
Barbee’s father, the late Fred Barbee Jr. was part owner and publisher of the El Campo Leader-News at the time with Elam.
Martin recollects some of the columns Aulds penned for the newspaper.
“The two most memorable are about the Medal of Honor recipient (Roy P. Benavidez),” she said. “He was real close to him (Benavidez).”
Aulds also wrote about Texas Game Warden Justin Hurst who was killed in the line of duty.
“He was just heartbroken (about Hurst’s death),” Martin said.
“What I liked about his writing is he liked to capture the good things, and of course sometimes they were humorous,” she said.
She says Aulds was good friends of the elder Barbee, Fred, until his passing in 2007.
“He was also very close to Rick DuBroc (pastor at First Baptist Church,” Martin said.
If you would like to reach out to Aulds and wish him a Happy Birthday, you can send a card or letter to him at the following address.
PO Box 599
Galveston, TX 77553
“Jerry would love to hear from his El Campo and Wharton County friends,” Martin said.