Roy Whittenburg

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Roy Robert Whittenburg, Sr.

(Texas businessman,
publisher, and politician)

Born January 11, 1913​
Plemons, Hutchinson County, Texas, USA​
Died December 27, 1980 (aged 67)
Canyon, Randall County, Texas
Political Party Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate (1958)​
Spouse Grace Evelyn McKee Whittenburg (married 1937–1980, his death) ​

Grace Evelyn Coltrin
​ Jewel Anne Johnston
​ George Allen Whittenburg
​ Louis Palma McKee Whittenburg
​ John Burkhart Whittenburg
​ Mary Lois Rowley
​ Roy Whittenburg, Jr.​

Religion Presbyterian

Roy Robert Whittenburg, Sr. (January 11, 1913 – December 29, 1980), was a landowner, oilman, rancher, banker, and newspaper publisher from, principally, Amarillo, Texas, who was the Republican nominee in 1958 for the U.S. Senate against the Democratic incumbent, Ralph Yarborough, a leading figure among liberals in the state.​

Yarborough handily won the match, 587,030 (74.6 percent) to Whittenburg's 185,926 (23.6 percent) at a time before the Republican Party of Texas became competitive at the congressional level.[1] As a Senate candidate, Whittenburg advocated passage of a constitutional amendment to provide for the direct election of justices of the United States Supreme Court in accordance with the procedure employed for choosing members of the Texas Supreme Court; he believed the voters would choose conservative justices.[2]

In 1962, Whittenburg lost the Republican gubernatorial primary to Jack M. Cox (1921-1990), then an oilfield equipment executive from Houston, who was in turn defeated in the general election by the then Democrat John B. Connally, Jr. Whittenburg said that he wanted to be governor to check what he called the "dictatorial powers" of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.[2]​ ​


Whittenburg was born in the ghost town of Plemons in Hutchinson County in the Texas Panhandle. On February 14, 1937, he married the former Grace Evelyn McKee (1919–2005), a native of eastern New Mexico and the daughter of Louis Palma McKee and the former Jewel Porter.[3]

The couple had seven children: Grace Evelyn Coltrin (born 1939), Jewel Anne Johnston (born 1942), George Allen Whittenburg (born 1944), Louis Palma McKee "Mack" Whittenburg (born 1946), John Burkhart "Burk" Whittenburg (born 1948), Mary Lois Rowley (born 1955), and Roy Whittenburg, Jr. (born 1958).[3] ​ ​


​ Petroleum was discovered on Whittenburg land in the 1920s. This gave the family great wealth and the opportunity to invest in other businesses. From 1946 to 1956, Whittenburg owned the Borger News Herald, which had been founded in 1926 in Borger, the largest city in Hutchinson County. Whittenburg sold the newspaper to his brother-in-law, Captain Wilburn Glynn Morris (1915-1989), who then operated it until retiring in 1977. Morris was president of the Texas Press Association from 1968 to 1969.[4]

Whittenburg's brother, Samuel Benjamin Whittenburg (1914–1992), was the publisher of the Amarillo Globe-Times,[5] while Roy held the title of chairman of the board. By 1951, the Whittenburgs' Amarillo Times began to eclipse the older Globe-News published by Gene Howe. The Whittenburgs compelled Howe to sell them The Globe-News, which they renamed The Globe-Times. The Whittenburgs also bought Howe's television station and two radio outlets in Amarillo, and his two newspapers in Lubbock, including the surviving Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Howe thereafter shot himself in the head in despair, and some in Amarillo accused the Whittenburgs of unfairly undercutting their business rival.[2] Whittenburg demanded one-fourth of the share of profits if oil was found on leased family land, instead of the customary one-eighth royalty share.[2]

Whittenberg died at his residence at the age of sixty-seven. He and his wife are interred at Dreamland Cemetery in Canyon in Randall County. He and his wife were Presbyterians.[3]


  1. Congressional Quarterly Press's Guide to U.S. Elections, Vol. 2, 6th edition (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2010), p. 1465
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Skip Hollandsworth (March 1996). Big Feud at Cadillac Ranch. Texas Monthly. Retrieved on September 3, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Grace Evelyn McKee Whittenburg obituary. Retrieved on October 4, 2010.
  4. History of the Newspaper. Borger Hews-Herald (May 16, 2006). Retrieved on October 4, 2010.
  5. Who's Who in America, 1958–1959 (Vol. 30), Chicago, Illinois, 1958, p. 2974.