DICK ELAM has been a reporter, a TV station manager, a sailboat racing skipper, a cruising skipper, a Naval Reservist, an oilfield pilot, a political consultant, a university professor, and acrylic artist. Now this octogenarian author lives in his native Texas where he’s busy writing thrillers. Anne Bonny’s Wake is the first in his “Maggie and Hersh” fiction romance thriller series.
The literary pull became apparent at an early age when Elam served as a proofreader at his hometown Abilene Reporter-News at the age of 14. Multitasking as a sportswriter, he earned his first byline in the daily publication reporting on the city golf tournament champion, Billy Maxwell, who would go on to play on the PGA Tour. In high school, he was editor of the school newspaper and worked weekends for the Reporter-News. Upon graduation, Elam headed to Austin, and for four years worked on the University of Texas student newspaper, the Daily Texan. He was elected editor of the newspaper in 1949 and inducted in the inaugural Daily Texan Hall of Fame in 2013, along with such dignitaries as Walter Cronkite, Ladybird Johnson and Liz Carpenter.
Elam earned his degree from the University of Texas in 1950 and returned to Abilene to work for the Reporter-News. He left the newspaper to work in the oilfield and report oilfield news on a live television show for two years. When he left the oilfield service business, he took a majority ownership and managed KPAR-TV (Abilene-Sweetwater). He then sold his interest in the television station and moved to Austin to coordinate Senator John Tower’s successful re-election campaign.
Elam earned a master’s degree in journalism (1969) from UT and served as assistant professor, teaching political campaign communications and editorial writing. He later earned his Ph.D. in journalism from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1972. He returned to Austin and the University of Texas as associate dean in the communications school. In 1977, Elam was named chairman of Radio/TV/ Film at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he served until his retirement in 1999 as professor emeritus.
Along the way, Elam partnered with his father, A.R. “Red” Elam, to drill and complete natural gas wells in Coleman County, Texas, and owned half interest with a college roommate, Fred Barbee, as publisher of three Wharton County, Texas, weekly newspapers and a radio station.
Before he started cruising in a 30-footer named Anne Bonny, Elam raced one-design sailboat dinghies, such as the Snipe, Flying Dutchman, Thistle, Tempest, Cal 20 and Flying Scot. Sailing was a family sport. His son, Kelson, was an All-American sailor while at the University of Texas.
Dick Elam currently enjoys his view of tranquil sunsets and gentle currents from his home on Lake Ray Hubbard in Heath, Texas.