Mayborn, Frank Willis (1903–1987)

By: Mark Odintz

Type: Biography

Published: December 1, 1995

Updated: January 24, 2020

Frank Willis Mayborn, newspaper editor, publisher, and a leading figure in the development of Bell County, was born in Akron, Ohio, on December 7, 1903, the son of Nellie Childs (Welton) and Ward Carlton Mayborn. His father, a prominent newspaper publisher, moved the family to Westminster, a small community outside of Denver, Colorado, in 1910, and then to Dallas, Texas, in 1919. Mayborn graduated from Oak Cliff High School in Dallas in 1922 and received a B.A. from the University of Colorado in 1926. His long association with the newspaper industry began in high school, when he worked as a stringer for the Dallas Dispatch, and continued in college, as he worked part-time or took summer jobs on the Dispatch, the San Diego Sun, and the Denver Post, and as a correspondent for the United Press. He worked as an advertising salesman for the Dallas News and then in several managerial positions for the Northern Texas Traction Company in Fort Worth. Along with his father and brothers, Mayborn purchased the Telegram Publishing Company, publishers of the Temple Daily Telegram. He served as business manager of the Daily Telegram from 1929 to 1945, and then as editor and publisher. He purchased the Sherman Democrat in 1945, became part owner (eventually sole owner) and operator of the Killeen Herald (later the Daily Herald) in 1952, and became owner of the Taylor Press in 1959. He sold the Press in 1974 and the Democrat in 1977 but continued to serve as editor of the Daily Telegram and the Daily Herald until his death in 1987.

Mayborn was also a communications pioneer in other media. In 1936 he started radio station KTEM in Temple, in 1945 he founded WMAK in Nashville, and in 1952 he founded KCEN-TV in Temple. He was actively involved in civic affairs and played a crucial role in the development of Bell County. His long association with the military began in 1939–40, when as president of the Temple Chamber of Commerce he organized and chaired a military affairs committee. Through the committee's efforts Camp Hood (now Fort Hood) was established in Killeen. Mayborn and the committee were also involved in locating McCloskey General Hospital (now Olin E. Teague Veterans Center) in Temple, and several other military instillations and defense plants in the area. Mayborn enlisted in the army in 1942, serving as a public relations officer in various positions. In 1944 he joined the staff of General Dwight D. Eisenhower as assistant chief of the U.S. public relations office. He earned a Bronze Star and left military service as a major in 1945. He continued to stay active in military affairs and built a network of friends in the military by serving on the civilian advisory board for most of the commanders at Fort Hood. In 1968 he accompanied an old acquaintance, Gen. Bruce Clarke, to Vietnam on a fact-finding tour and on his return was asked to report to another old friend, Lyndon B. Johnson, on the reliability of the controversial M-16 rifle. Mayborn was awarded the Creighton W. Abrams Medal in 1979 for his many contributions to the U.S. Army.

Mayborn was involved in Democratic party politics for many years. Through his work as a newspaperman and as an advocate for Central Texas, Mayborn developed relationships with many leading Democrats. Congressman William Robert Poage was associated with him for many years, and Mayborn worked with John B. Connally, Oveta Culp Hobby, Jesse H. Jones, Samuel T. Rayburn, and Lyndon Johnson at different times in his career. He was elected a member of the Texas Democratic State Committee in 1946 and played a crucial role in the disputed senatorial primary of 1948. The state committee was asked to declare the winner of the primary after the supporters of Coke R. Stevenson accused Johnson's campaign of fraudulent voting practices. Mayborn was summoned from a Nashville business trip by John Connally, then Johnson's campaign manager, to cast the deciding vote in the committee's 29-to-28 decision declaring Johnson the winner. Like many other Texans, Mayborn's allegiance to the Democratic party weakened in the 1950s, and by the 1970s he was sometimes found supporting Republican candidates for national and state office.

Mayborn was also involved in the development of other Bell County institutions. He served on the advisory board of Scott and White Memorial Hospital and played an important role in the location of Texas A&M University Medical Center in Temple. A longtime advocate of a convention center for Temple, Mayborn donated over fifteen acres of land for the Frank W. Mayborn Convention Center, completed in 1982. He worked with Congressman Poage to press for the construction of two important Central Texas reservoirs, Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Lake. He also worked to get the Killeen-Temple area designated as a metropolitan statistical area. As an advocate for education he was active in the founding of Central Texas College near Killeen, and he endowed a chair at Texas Tech University. Mayborn served on journalism advisory boards at both the University of Texas and Texas A&M and served as a trustee of and gave generously to George Peabody College in Nashville. He belonged to a number of professional organizations and served as president of the Texas Publishers Association in 1941 and of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association in 1961. He also supported numerous charitable projects through the Frank W. Mayborn Foundation.

Mayborn was married three times: to Ruth Whitesides from 1929 to 1946, to Wythel Killen from 1947 to 1972 (both marriages ended in divorce), and to Anyse Sue White in 1981. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, the Distinguished Citizen Award of the Boy Scouts of America for his support of that organization, and his induction into the Communications Hall of Fame at Texas Tech University. A Mason and a Presbyterian, Frank Mayborn died of a heart attack in Temple on May 16, 1987.

Killen Daily Herald, May 17, 1987. Temple Daily Telegram, May 17, 1987. Odie B. Faulk and Laura E. Faulk, Frank Mayborn: A Man Who Made a Difference (Belton: University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, 1989).

  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Mark Odintz, “Mayborn, Frank Willis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 03, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1995
January 24, 2020

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