Nominations sought for Best of Texoma’s 2020 Starr Community Award

Staff report
Herald Democrat

Nominations are being accepted for the Best of Texoma’s esteemed Starr Community Award, which is presented annually to a local business, leader or innovator who routinely and selflessly supports the community.

The award is named in honor of Lydia Ann Starr McPherson, founder and first publisher of the Sherman Democrat.

Since 2017, the Herald Democrat and Best of Texoma have called upon readers to nominate businesses or individuals who are deserving of the recognition.

“This award is meant to spotlight those who have lent a hand to Texoma and its residents time and again, yet who do not expect any reward in return,” Senior Group Publisher Nate Rodriguez said. “Their selfless, tireless dedication to the community should serve as an example to all.”

Starr, the award’s namesake, was a tremendous supporter of Sherman, evidenced by the coverage that continues to fill the pages of the newspaper she founded.

Born in Ohio, at age 17 she became a teacher in Iowa before wedding David Hunter in 1848 and having five children.

Following her husband’s death, in 1874 Starr moved Caddo, Indian Territory, and began working for the Oklahoma Star as a reporter and editor. That same year, she entered into a short-lived marriage to Granville McPherson, the paper’s owner and publisher.

Starr went on to found the Caddo International News, making her the first female newspaper publisher in the Territory. After moving in 1877 to Whitesboro, Texas, she established the Whitesboro Democrat and became the first woman in the state to found and publish a newspaper.

She moved that publication to Sherman two years later, and the Sherman Daily Democrat was born. One of the first women to join the State Press Association, her work was regularly featured on the pages of well-known magazines including Cosmopolitan and Youth’s Companion.

Starr, who authored a published book of poetry titled “Reullura,” also served as Sherman’s postmaster from 1886-90.

Nominations of local businesses and leaders for the Starr Community Award may be emailed to Herald Democrat Managing Editor Scheane Brown at

The inaugural award was presented to Denison stalwart Nick’s Family Restaurant, which offered holiday meals the members of the Texoma community.

The next year’s recipient, Gail Utter, was recognized for her work raising mental health awareness. As part of the Texoma Behavior Health Leadership Team, she collaborated with local nonprofit organizations, law enforcement agencies and others to focus on jail diversion and improve access to care.

Last year’s honoree was Vanya Griffith-Mayes of Certainty Home Loans and supporter of numerous local charities and non profits.