Residents of Center, Texas, are remembering their beloved town historian who fondly called her hometown "the Center of the universe." Mattie Dellinger, 101, died Tuesday. The newspaper columnist and radio talk show host filed her last report in the Shelby County Today on Sunday. Even in failing health, she continued to write a weekly column.
Dellinger reported for at least a six news organizations during her long writing career. She was the popular host of a radio call-in show, "Mattie’s Party Line." It aired for more than 15 years, according to a 1999 profile of her in the Baltimore Sun.
Former East Texas newspaper publisher and Red River Radio commentator Gary Boarders recalls how Dellinger once wrote to Willie Nelson snubbing his music.
“The redheaded stranger wrote back and said he was going to come to Center to change her mind,” Borders said in a tribute commentary last year. “Willie kept his word, and they’ve been friends since. Willie even put on a concert in Center for her. If you go to his website, you’ll find a page devoted to Mattie.”
Funeral services for Dellinger will be held at First Baptist Church in Center on Saturday at 10 a.m. It’s slated to be televised live on Center’s local broadcasting station.