Thirteen women were inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame on September 18, 1986. They included astronaut Sally Ride, women’s basketball coach Jody Conradt, business executive Mary Kay Ash, former ambassador Anne Armstrong, rancher Mary Lavinia Griffith, educator and civic leader Ada Simond, educator Wilhelmina Delco, pathologist May Owen, attorney Hermine Dalkowitz Tobolowsky, publishing editor Margaret Cousins, civic volunteers Alicia R. Chacon and Frances E. Goff and journalist Caro Crawford Brown.
Caroll “Caro” Crawford Brown was born May 25, 1908 to Samuel Brittle Crawford and the former Katherine Irene Walker in Baber, Angelina County, Texas. Her father was a shipping clerk in a sawmill in 1910. By 1930, the family was still together but living in San Jacinto County and Mr. Crawford was a yard foreman at a sawmill.
She began her college studies studying journalism at College of Industrial Arts, now known as Texas Woman’s University, in Denton. While there, she worked in the campus newspaper. After several years of study, she was dismissed from the school for violating school rules on behavior, reportedly for being out of uniform, riding in a car with a male without permission and attending a nightclub. Upon leaving the College of Industrial Arts, she transferred to Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.
The couple moved to Alice, Texas and by the late 1940s, Caro had been working for the Alice Echo newspaper for several years. She began with an entry level job and later became a society and courthouse reporter.
She and Jack were living in Alice in 1949 when the murder of Bill Mason occurred. Mason was a radio journalist who worked for station KBKI in Alice. He had been vocal about local crime and was shot and killed on a local street by an Alice deputy sheriff named Smithwick, as Mason was exiting his car. Smithwick was tried and convicted of murder, but allegedly committed suicide in his cell before serving much of his sentence. Smithwick was also linked to Duval County official George Parr and was the individual who produced the controversial ballot box that tipped the 1948 Texas Democratic primary election in favor of Lyndon Johnson. Brown reported on the affairs of Parr and the investigations into his actions.
George Parr was the son of Archer Parr and had been deeply involved in the economic and political affairs in Duval and Jim Wells counties for a number of years. Ultimately state and federal authorities began to investigate the family and their associates for alleged criminal activities. Brown continued to report on the investigations and trials, at her own personal risk. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting in 1955. As such, she was the first woman from Texas to have ever received the Pulitzer Prize in journalism. Brown retired from being actively involved in journalism several years later.
Jack Brown passed away in Alice in 1976 and was interred in Alice. Caro survived him for about twenty-five years. She passed in 2001 and is also buried with Jack in Alice. Texas Woman’s University honored her after her retirement on the occasion of her induction into Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 1986. On September 24, 1986, the campus newspaper that Brown had worked on while she was a student, the Daily Lass-o, carried these paragraphs:
“A former TWU student, Pulitzer winner Caro Brown was among 13 women inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame as part of the Women in Texas Week celebration in Austin last week.
Brown visited the TWU campus last April, and a scholarship is named for her in the department of journalism and broadcasting. The Blagg-Huey Library houses Brown’s papers. Brown was the first woman to ever win the Pulitzer for local reporting.”
In addition to her other honors, she was inducted into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2016.
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