Williams family helmed newspaper generations

Published: Friday, November 30, 2012 at 12:47 PM.

Edward Williams guided the newspaper as well as provided leadership to the county through some of the nation’s most trying times — World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II.

“Because of his long tenure at the helm of the newspaper, he, more than anyone else, molded the philosophy and tradition of a family-owned publication that became a Holmes County institution,” according to the “Heritage of Holmes County.”

Edward was the youngest son of founder W.D. Williams, and he began learning the newspaper business at an early age. By the time he was 15 he had already assumed a leading role in the publication of the newspaper. Before taking over from his father in 1909, Edward worked briefly for the Carrabelle Advertiser. He also worked briefly for the Marianna Times, only to return to Holmes County when his father called him back to take over after the county seat was moved from Westville to Bonifay — and the newspaper also moved to Bonifay.

In a 1929 editorial celebrating the 36th anniversary of the Holmes County Advertiser, Edward wrote:

“That old epigram, ‘It takes a lot of living to make a house a home,’ is familiar to all. Perhaps few have thought to apply it to a newspaper, however. It takes a lot of living to make a publication a home newspaper. The publication must participate in the joys and sorrows, the problems and perplexities, as well as the triumphs and successes, of a people for a long time before it becomes a real integral part of their home life. It must struggle for them, sacrifice for them, suffer for them before it becomes one of them. This is what the Advertiser has aimed to do.”

In 1949, Nolan DeVane Williams took his father’s place as editor and publisher, and ran the newspaper until he encountered health problems, at which time his son-in-law Orren Smith purchased the newspaper and became editor and publisher. Orren and his wife Dianne ran of the newspaper until its sale in 1981 to Larry and Merle Woodham, newspaper publishers in DeFuniak Springs and Florala, Ala.

The Holmes County Advertiser remained within the Williams family for 89 years.

1 2 3 4 5

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top