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Frank X. Tolbert dies

January
09
1984

On this day in 1984, veteran Texas newspaperman and chili aficionado Frank X. Tolbert died of heart failure. Francis Tolbert was born in Amarillo in 1912 and attended four different Texas colleges but never received a degree. He began his career in journalism as a sportswriter for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and later worked for papers in Wichita Falls and Amarillo before joining the staff of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He also published two novels, numerous short stories, and various nonfiction works. Tolbert began using the name Frank X. Tolbert when he enlisted in the United States Marines in 1942. He served as combat correspondent in the Pacific for the marines' official publication, Leatherneck, and later as its managing editor in Washington, D.C. He joined the staff of the Dallas Morning News in 1946 and began publishing his "Tolbert's Texas" column. Tolbert's most popular work, A Bowl of Red (1962), was devoted to chili con carne. Soon after the publication of A Bowl of Red Tolbert founded the Chili Appreciation Society International, which is based in the ghost town of Terlingua, where annual chili-cooking contests are held. He officially retired from the Morning News in 1977 but continued to write one column a week until his death.

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