Ann Arnold Ann Arnold passed away Saturday, Sept. 1. She was 67. In a 50-year professional career, she was a groundbreaking Texas journalist, first female press secretary to a Texas governor and the longtime president of the Texas Association of Broadcasters. Born in Jackson, Mississippi, she was the first daughter of Bill and Mildred Watson. She spent her early years in Little Rock before her family moved to Fort Worth in the 1960's. She was graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Journalism in 1968 after working three jobs to pay her way through college, including the Capitol bureau of the Dallas Times-Herald. Arnold won a 1966 Headliners award for a Dallas Times-Herald series on LSD use and also worked on the Daily Texan staff. Upon graduation, she joined United Press International's Capitol bureau and shortly thereafter married her high school sweetheart, Reg Arnold. She developed a reputation as a dogged investigative reporter when a series of scandals rocked the Texas Capitol in the early 1970s. Arnold joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1980 working in the newspaper's Capitol bureau. While reporting on Gov.-Elect Mark White's plans for his administration in 1982, he asked her to be his press secretary. She agreed on the condition the Administration be as open as possible with the public. When White left office in 1987, she was diagnosed with leukemia and told she had six months to two years to live. Arnold rejected that death sentence, joined an experimental treatment program at UT's M. D. Anderson facilities in Houston and lived a remarkable 20+ years with the disease. In 1987, she was asked by a group of radio and TV station owners and operators to head up the Texas Association of Broadcasters, taking over the reins of the organization when long-time Executive Director Bonner McLane died suddenly. With her legendary power of persuasion and tireless dedication, Arnold developed a state and national reputation of championing the work of the Texas broadcast industry. She was instrumental in broadcasters' fight to achieve a positive business climate in Texas through her work at the Texas Capitol, before Congress and with the Federal Communications Commission. Arnold also positioned TAB as a primary defender of Texas' Open Government laws which were borne out of the very Sharpstown scandal she had covered years before. Arnold was recognized for Open Government efforts with the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas' James Madison Award in 2001 which she received with then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn. She was broadcasters' fiercest advocate for enhancing the Emergency Alert System and laid the groundwork for the successful effort to pass a Free Flow of Information Act in Texas. Texas broadcasters honored her for legacy of work on their behalf by presenting Arnold TAB's first Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. She is survived by her son and his wife, Merle and Julie Arnold of Fort Washington, Maryland, son Jonathan Arnold of Austin, and sister Sue March of Friendswood. She was preceded in death by her husband, Reg, and her parents. A public memorial service will be held in her honor on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 10 a.m. in the Senate chamber of the Texas State Capitol. Her family and the Texas Association of Broadcasters are planning a fitting tribute to her legacy to be announced at www.tab.org. Condolences may be sent to www.cookwaldenfuneralhome.com.
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Published in Austin American-Statesman from September 16 to September 18, 2012