James W. Rech, former Advocate editor, dies at 83
Nov. 19, 2012 at 5:19 a.m.
Updated Nov. 20, 2012 at 5:20 a.m.
Friends and family looked back Monday at the life of a man who devoted himself to bringing news to the Crossroads.
Former Advocate editor James "Jim" W. Rech died Monday morning after an extended illness. He was 83.
Vince Reedy, a former Advocate editor who worked with Rech for more than 30 years, described him as a hard worker people looked up to.
"He never asked anyone to do something he had never done or wouldn't do again if it came to a pinch," he said. "He was just the kind of manager and editor that anybody who knew him respected."
Rech, a history buff, was a lifelong sports fan, avid reader and book collector, Reedy said.
"I would say he was devoted to the printed word," he said. "That manifested in his love for books. He was always reading something."
Rech was married to Alice Rech, his wife of 56 years, Reedy said. The couple had one daughter, Tami Wilson, and two grandchildren.
Former Advocate columnist Henry Wolff Jr. worked with Rech from 1963 until Rech's retirement. Rech hired him sight unseen, he said, after reviewing Wolff's resume and talking over the phone.
He recalled his former boss' strong work ethic.
"He was a workaholic when it came to the newspaper," he said, noting Rech was involved in every aspect of the newsroom. "He'd be there in the morning and the afternoon, then he came back after supper."
Rech was a tough journalist with exacting standards, Wolff said, and he manned the ship through the height of the Advocate's growth. He helped oversee the switch to color photography and other major changes.
"I just think that for the time he was managing editor of the Advocate there couldn't have been a better person in that job," he said.
Rech was born in Mississippi but grew up in Houston, Reedy said.
He earned his degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, where he also served as editor of the college paper, the Daily Texan. After graduation, Rech enlisted in the U.S. Army.
Although Rech spent several months working with an Alice newspaper, he joined the Advocate in 1953. There, he worked his way up through the years, first as a reporter and then on to managing editor, executive editor and, finally, editor and vice president.
He retired in 1990.
Emily Buckert, a former Advocate food columnist, fondly remembered her former boss as a picky eater who loved his food.
"I'd bring recipes I was tasting and testing, and I'd make him sample a lot of stuff," said Buckert, who worked with Rech his entire time with the paper. "I got to where I could get him to eat a lot of things he wouldn't try before."
Even so, she said with a laugh, her attempts to put meat on his bones never panned out.
Buckert recalled Rech as a fair and honest person who got along with everyone. Even after they both retired from the paper, they made it a point to join up with former Advocate colleagues each Christmas.
In the later years, she said, they both attended St. Mary's Catholic Church.
Although Buckert said she was sad to lose a longtime friend, it helped to know he was in a better place.
"He will certainly be missed," she said. "He was a good guy all around."