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Dinner in Honor of Ben and Martha Barnes (1963)

Gordon Wilkison

Sound | 1963

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  •  Telephone address by Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr, who could not attend the event in person because he had been called to Washington D.C. to meet with the presidential commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy. 
  •  Lt. Governor Preston Smith 
  •  Governor John Connally, delivering his first public speech since sustaining multiple wounds at the assassination of President Kennedy.  Because of the severity of his injuries, he telephoned into the dinner from his bed in the Governor's Mansion. 
  •  Byron Tunnell, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives 
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On Decmeber 17, 1963, State Representative Ben Barnes and his wife Martha were honored at an appreciation dinner given by the consituents of his home district. The dinner, held at the newly completed Brownwood Coliseum, was attended by over 900 of Barnes' colleagues and supporters. Tributes to Barnes were given by Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr, Lieutenant Governor Preston Smith, Governor John Connally, and House Speaker Byron Tunnell. Not shown on this reel, the tribute also included a telegram by President Lyndon B. Johnson which was read by Tunnell.

Born in 1938 in Gorman, Ben Barnes won a seat to the Texas House of Representatives while still a student at University of Texas Austin. By 1963 he was chairman of the influential Rules Committee and in 1965, at the age of 26, Barnes was elected the youngest House speaker in state history. During his time as speaker, he prioritized the financial needs of the state's colleges and universities, helped pass legislation enforcing a minimum wage for farm laborers, and played a significant role in the passage of clean air and water legislation.

Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation.  At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents. 
A particularly notable moment in his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas. 
Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.    
Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.