John William "Bill" Hartman

Bill Hartman, the longtime owner of the Fort Bend Herald, died Monday afternoon at a Sugar Land hospital. He was 79.

Hartman, known more commonly by Herald readers as “BH” for authoring the Fort Bend Journal and who published a weekly column he called “Sunday Slants,” had been dealing with illness since suffering a broken leg last year.

He purchased The Herald-Coaster in 1974 from Carmage Walls and Southern Newspapers, Inc. The newspaper was renamed the Fort Bend Herald in 2007.

The Herald became part of Hartman Newspapers, Inc., which at one point owned 17 community newspapers in Texas and Oklahoma. Hartman relocated the company to Rosenberg in 1977, and he and his family moved from Beaumont to Richmond.

“Bill was my boss for 50 years,” said Clyde King, chairman of Hartman Newspapers and publisher of the Fort Bend Herald. “He was a consummate newspaperman, and you would never find any ‘fake news’ in any of his publications.

“I remember asking him once how to display a certain story of wrongdoing by a community member, and I’ll never forget his answer: ‘Run it like you would if you or I did it.’ And what he meant by that was that neither of us or anyone else would be exempt from having our transgressions reported on the front page.”

Hartman demanded his editors get as many names and faces in each issue as possible. He was a lifelong veteran of the newspaper business, and began working as a teenager for his father Fred, who was editor and publisher of the Baytown Sun for Southern Newspapers.

Hartman attended Baytown public schools, graduating from Robert E. Lee High School in 1959.

After graduating from Baylor University in 1962 with a business degree, Hartman went to work as editor and publisher of the Bayshore Sun in La Porte. He then moved back to Baytown in 1965 as general manager of the Baytown Sun under his father and Mr. Walls.

From 1971-74, Hartman served as editor and publisher of the Beaumont Enterprise & Journal. Then in 1974, he founded Hartman Newspapers.

Hartman’s community services included serving as president of the Rosenberg-Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce; chairman of the board of the Greater Fort Bend Economic Development Council; director of Polly Ryon Memorial Hospital; past chairman of the Fort Bend County Mobility Task Force; past vice chairman of the Richmond State School’s Volunteer Services Council; past president of the Rosenberg Rotary Club; and past director of the Fort Bend County Fair Association.

Hartman served as president of the Texas Daily Newspapers Association in 1977, and was named the Pat Taggart Newspaper Leader of the Year by TDNA in 2004.

He was also a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, covering the Houston Astros in the Herald for many years.

He lived in Richmond and was a member of St. John’s United Methodist Church.

He is survived by his three children, Fred Hartman and wife Laura of Austin; Lee Hartman and wife Shannon of Sugar Land; and Lizz Sansone and husband Chris Sansone of Sugar Land; six grandchildren, Drew and Kate Hartman of Sugar Land and Julia and Blake Hartman of Austin, and Alex and Ella Stapleton of Austin.

Funeral services are pending, and will be reported in the Herald when they are arranged.

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