FOI Foundation honors Robert and Maureen Decherd

G.J. McCarthy/Staff Photographer
Maureen and Robert Decherd accepted the John Henry Faulk Award for Civic Virtue on Friday from Paul Watler of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.
By Christina Rosales
The Dallas Morning News
Originally published March 28, 2014

Robert and Maureen Decherd received the John Henry Faulk Award for Civic Virtue Friday from the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

The former chairman, president and chief executive of The Dallas Morning News’ parent company, A.H. Belo Corporation, was a founder of the foundation that honored him. He served as its first president from 1978 to 1981.

The foundation periodically bestows the award to Texans who show outstanding civic involvement and enlightened philanthropy. It is named after the author and humorist who fought for free speech.

“This is not a fight that goes away,” Decherd said at the foundation’s luncheon Friday. “It frankly becomes more complex by the day. The existence of the FOI Foundation in a state as large and important as Texas is a significant accomplishment for all of you.”

The Decherds have shown their commitment to their community and journalism by contributing to the Belo Garden in downtown Dallas and the Belo Center for New Media at the University of Texas at Austin.

Attorney Paul Watler, a foundation board member, said Robert Decherd’s work to strengthen the nonprofit has helped it become a “permanent beacon of freedom of information.”

“He understood that news reporters, as surrogates for the public, needed to be trained and educated on how to use FOI laws for public interest journalism,” Watler said.

The foundation established an endowment in the Decherds’ name to provide continued support for the nonprofit’s mission to advocate for open government and free speech.

The Robert and Maureen Decherd Endowment is starting with a contribution of $25,000 from the couple. They are donating a $25,000 challenge grant to provide $1 for every $2 in new gifts. By Oct. 31, the group hopes to raise $50,000 in new contributions with a target total of $100,000 or more for the endowment.