October 11, 2006 Edition

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Hope Segraves (center) visits with Janice Hibbard and Howard Golden at The TD office. Segraves marked 45 years with the newspaper in September. Hibbard has been with the paper for 42 years, and Golden will mark his 40th anniversary with the company next year.

Segraves marks 45 years with TD

Hope Segraves and Janice Hibbard stand in front of the old TD office located in the building at 110 West Main Street that now houses Regal Treatment. This photo was taken in the early 1970s.

Through the years Hope Segraves has worked for The TD, her husband, Billy, has also worked part-time in one capacity or another.
Gretchen Hunt

Friend, church member, aunt, sister, cousin, mom, grandma, great-grandma ~ many people in Lawrence County have some association with Hope Segraves, but she is probably known best for her years with The Times Dispatch.

September marked 45 years of service for Segraves, who started with the newspaper on Sept. 16, 1961. She was hired as a typist and proofreader, but also fulfilled many other tasks.

"I went around town on foot and collected local news," Segraves said of her early days with The TD. "I also used to run errands for Jim Bland Sr."

When Segraves joined the staff, Jim Bland Jr. was editor and publisher, but the senior Bland had recently returned from working in Little Rock under the Faubus administration and had a desk in the office, as well.

The Times Dispatch was then located in what is now Regal Treatment and moved across the street to its current location in 1978.

Segraves said her husband, Billy, who farmed in the area, has worked part-time in some capacity ever since she started with the paper.

In 1964, Segraves took maternity leave to welcome Bobby Segraves to the family. She and Billy already had two other children, Cheryl and David.

Janice Hibbard was hired while Segraves was on leave, and the two have worked together ever since.

"When I came to work, at the age of 17, she was pregnant with her last child," Hibbard said.

"That was a learning experience for both of us, her with her hormones going crazy, making her cry at the drop of a hat and me trying to learn the ropes and helping her cope with her pregnancy.

"Working together for these many years has made us feel close to one another, besides being distantly related. Her mother, Ruby (Mrs. Claude) Hibbard Waddell and my father, Dailey Hibbard, were cousins."

Other employees who have worked with Segraves for many years incude Howard Golden, who will mark 40 years with the company next year, Billy Combs and John Bland, The TD's current publisher.

Segraves said the Bland family has been very good to her through the years. She has also worked with Virginia Bland, Renee Bland and Beth Bland.

"I have to give praise to the Bland family," she said.

The Blands are quick to give praise to Segraves, as well.

"We've been very fortunate to have Hope these 45 years, and she's been a great asset to our office," Virginia Bland said. "We hope she'll be around for several more."

Others former TD employees who Segraves recalls spending many years with include: Joann Hood, Berniece Baker, Loretta Beakley, Tom Moore, Lex Ward, Tim Turnbow, Leon "Shorty" Woods, Betty Waterson Smith, Tom Manning, Junior Taylor and Vernon "Bud" Baker. Rennard Cooper, who retired after 40 years with The TD in 1998, is working for the paper again on a part-time basis.

She said she also worked with Betty Gale Davis, who trained her, for a short time. Davis was planning to leave The TD to start teaching. After Davis left, Segraves was the only woman on a workforce of men.

Segraves was promoted to office manager under Jim Bland Jr., a position she has held for many years.

There have been many advances in technology in the 45 years Segraves has been with The TD.

When she started the newspaper was still being formatted using linotype machines. Now everything is done on computer. Pagination programs, digital cameras and Internet file transfers are only the latest of technological changes Segraves has seen.

Segraves said a couple of the most memorable news events that have happened during her tenure were when Sheriff Gene Matthews was killed and the flood of 1982.

There is only one time in her 45 years that Segraves can remember not making it to work when she was scheduled to be working. It was during a bad ice storm when she and Billy still lived out in the Fender Community.

"I got a mile from home and then my car didn't want to go anymore," she said. "I turned around at a church and went back to the house. Billy brought me in to work after lunch."

Working at The TD has been very fulfilling, according to Segraves.

"I just loved it all," she said. "I like to work with people."

She said her first job was as a teenager working at an ice cream stand for Kenneth Guthrie. Then, she worked at Dr. Bradley's optometry office and Burrow Hardware and Furniture before starting at The TD.

In addition to the blessings she has received from her work, Segraves has been blessed with seven grandchildren, Kristi Dobbs, Matthew Segraves, Sarah Segraves Callahan, Rebekah Segraves McGinty, Brianna Segraves, Stephanie Dobbs and Jade Segraves; and four great-grandchildren, Grace Callahan, Taylor McGinty, Peyton Callahan and Ethan McGinty.

She and Billy are also active members at First Free Will Baptist Church in Walnut Ridge. They joined the church in 1983, when they moved into town. Prior to that they had attended the New Covenant Free Will Baptist Church.

"Church is a very important part of our lives," Segraves said.

Now, as she begins her 46th year, Segraves has decided to cut back her hours and work part-time.

As she makes that transition, she says picking a favorite thing about working for The TD is impossible.

"I've enjoyed all of it," she said, "meeting the people and working with them."

John Bland said The TD and Hope Segraves are thought of synonymously.

"My Dad always said Hope treated this business like it was her own," he said. "I believe her top concerns have always been the welfare of the business and taking care of customers. She has been a trusted supporter and friend to four generations of my family, and we are grateful to her."

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