John Daniel Alvey, 67, died Monday, Dec. 17, in St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, due to complications from a fall on his beloved boat, The Alaskan Adventurer. Dan was with his wife of 45 years and both his children when he passed.
Known for his business acumen, his humor, and his dog, Bud, Alvey was a devoted publisher, husband, father, grandfather, and son. He and his wife, Lee Alvey, built several thriving businesses over the years, including companies in Marble Falls and Corpus Christi.
Fresh out of college and newly married, Alvey moved to the Highland Lakes in 1974 to take a job as ad salesman for The Highlander newspaper. In just two years, he became publisher. He was instrumental in building a small-town weekly into the largest, most respected community weekly in Texas. Due to his vision and hard work, the paper was recognized as Best Community Weekly in the state by The Headliners Club in 1984, just as Alvey was stepping down as publisher to expand the company into the printing and magazine business.
Still working for Bill Bray, then-owner of The Highlander, Alvey started a printing plant, Highland Publishing, and Texas Fish and Game, a monthly fishing and hunting magazine.
“When Dan came to The Highlander, we were in the middle of a lot of serious public policy issues,” Bray said. “There was a lot of backlash against the paper from the business community, but Dan got out there and talked to people and convinced them they could not let their anger cloud their judgment about what was good for their business.”
When Alvey came on board The Highlander, the paper was ranked around 450th out of 520 weeklies in the nation in terms of circulation, Bray said. Within about five years of Alvey’s tenure, the paper’s circulation was double that of the second largest in the state. It also became — at the time — the second largest weekly in the nation. The year Alvey took Texas Fish and Game’s circulation statewide, it was recognized as the fastest-growing consumer publication in the nation.
“What I always liked about Dan is how he approached everything with a real entrepreneurial spirit, even when he was working for someone else,” said Griff Morris, former manager of Highland Publishing. “One of his great gifts was selling whoever was on the other end of a project that it was a good idea and would work. He’s why I gave up a perfectly good job in Austin and moved to Marble Falls. He is the reason I’ve had a good, successful life. He said, ‘Take a chance on me,’ and I did.”
A former Marble Falls mayor, Morris is not the only person who has Alvey to thank for a boost in life, including other boosters: the students and parents involved in the Marble Falls Mustangs Athletic Booster Club. Contractor Mike Pilley was a close friend and fellow booster club member. Pilley’s wife, Terry, was the first person Dan ever met in Marble Falls.
“He worked with my wife, Terry, and I to change the booster club from an all football club to a multi-sport athletic club,” Pilley said. “As a member of the community, he always gave. He had a unique way of looking at things and doing business.”
For Alvey, business was always more than making money. He connected what he did with his community and his faith, said the Rev. Jackie English, another close friend of many years.
“He was such a huge community booster,” English said. “He was always doing things to promote Marble Falls and the local economy. He had a super-big heart.”
Alvey founded his companies, Victory Media, Texas Publishing, and Picayune Digital Press, on two verses from Galatians. Paul tells the Galatians in verse 5:6, that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. In Galatians 6:10, Paul says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people …”
“He believed your faith should always be reflected in what you did and in how you loved people,” English said. “That was his foundation.”
That solid underpinning of community support and giving spirit is what drives the success of The Picayune newspaper, a one-of-a-kind publication that unites the community and highlights what is best about the people and events of the Highland Lakes. His daughter, Amber Weems, took over Victory Media as president several years ago. The company also produces 101 Fun Things to Do in the Highland Lakes magazine, The Picayune Area-Wide Phone Book, DailyTrib.com, 101HighlandLakes.com, and KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune.
Dan and Lee started Texas Publishing, a Corpus Christi-based company, in 1999. Lee served as the company’s first president. The Corpus Christi Area-Wide Phone Book is now the Corpus Christi Business Directory. Its stream-lined, easy-to-use print edition is backed by a vibrant, interactive website that consumers can easily access on smartphones. Alvey’s concept was to put the phone book in everyone’s purse and back pocket.
Alvey spent the last five years of his life building a business plan to save the phone book industry by bringing it into the digital age. Over that time, he also created the Corpus Christi Business News, Corpus Christi Living magazine, 101CorpusChristi.com, and CCBizNews.com as well as multiple special-issue magazines published throughout the year. Corpus Christi also has a 101 Fun Things to Do publication.
In a news story published two years ago, Alvey was asked about his vision for Corpus Christi Business News, which publishes features on local small businesses each month.
“We want to let our readers know who their neighbors are and why they are doing business,” he said. “It’s all geared to promoting local business owners — the people who are committed to this community and are working to help it grow and prosper.”
Alvey’s philosophy and commitment to community was writ large in Marble Falls, where he lived most of his life. He is remembered by some for the work he did at First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls, contributing to the youth group and cooking meals for the Body and Soul Cafe each Wednesday night for two years.
He is remembered by many Boys Scouts in the community as the assistant Scoutmaster who hiked them through the woods with a cigar in one hand and a walking stick in the other.
He is remembered by members of St. Frederick Baptist Church in Marble Falls as a lay minister who came to preach a yearly sermon and gather together in fellowship. He was close friends with the late Pastor Ed Hayes.
Children at First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls remember Dan and Lee for their support, both spiritually and financially. They often “adopted” kids to mentor and take on vacation and shopping trips.
He is remembered by his granddaughters, Morgan and Natalie, as “Poppy,” who bragged about them constantly, showing everyone he met pictures of them on his phone. His face never failed to light up into a brilliant smile when he saw them. Those granddaughters brought him great happiness, even more so than his constant companion, Bud, an 8-year-old black Labrador he raised from a puppy.
Other friends cherished his sense of humor and his habit of ending every phone call with a laugh. He had to come up with a funny story or quip before he could say goodbye.
“You know why I do that?” he would ask. “Because it’s funny!”
Alvey is remembered by fellow business owners whom he helped with marketing, ideas, and friendship over the years.
Pilley recalled an entrepreneurial spirit constantly at work, even when Alvey was at play. After buying one of his boats, Dan got a shrimping permit and took Pilley out in the Gulf of Mexico to cast nets for dinner.
When he bought the land he calls Picayune, Texas, he and Lee built several houses on the property, including their log home. They have, at times, had sheep, chickens, and donkeys on the place, always looking for adventure and a way to make assets pay off.
His creativity in marketing and business spilled over to others, which is what made him such a successful publisher. He truly understood the power of advertising.
“Dan and Lee were starting The Picayune when Diane and I were just starting the restaurant,” said John Russo of Russo’s Restaurant in Marble Falls. “They were extremely helpful to us when we were getting started. He had a unique way of doing things. He was fun to watch over the years. He was very successful.”
Russo remembers the fun side of Dan as well as the business side. He and Dan both loved shooting guns on the Alveys’ land. Dan enjoyed dining, traveling, entertaining, and boats — especially boats. He owned several vessels of different sizes, suited for a variety of waters from fresh to salt.
“Dan and I were friends for 48 years and four months,” said Marvin Smith of Austin. “Because of him, I got into houseboats.”
Smith and Alvey were the best of friends from their years at North Texas State, where Alvey also met Lee.
Cora Pimpleton remembers Dan for his kindness, his faith, and his ability to motivate people.
Pimpleton got to know the Alveys when she asked them to visit St. Frederick’s church. They not only visited her church, they became friends, taking Cora to dinner or out on a boat they kept in Horseshoe Bay. They gave generously to the church and helped others in the community when they needed assistance for things such as funerals or tuition.
“They never wanted recognition for anything,” Pimpleton said.
She has especially fond memories of evenings on the boat with the Alveys.
“We would go out there and hang out and eat,” she said. “It was so beautiful.”
Alvey’s love of boats and fishing was closely related to his late father, Jay. Dan bought The Alaskan Adventurer so he could take his dad deep sea fishing in his father’s later years. After Jay passed in 1998, Dan kept The Adventurer for his son, Nick. In the last few years, they turned it into a charter business in Alaska, which Alvey was moving to a new mooring in Tacoma when he had his accident.
A man of deep faith, Alvey was known to give Bibles to friends, which he would inscribe with a note and Philippians 4: 6-7. Since he almost always gave the New Living Translation Life Application Study Bible, the passage read:
6 Don’t worry about anything: instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. 7 If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Jesus Christ.
Alvey was born June 17, 1951, in Lubbock, Texas. He graduated from Permian High School in Odessa and earned a Bachelor of Science in journalism from North Texas State University in Denton. He married Merri Lee Keith on Dec. 29, 1973.
Alvey is survived by his mother, Charlene Alvey of Marble Falls; wife, Lee Alvey of Marble Falls; daughter, Amber Weems (Jon) of Marble Falls; son, Nick Alvey of Seattle; brother, Patrick Alvey (Linda) of Tyler; granddaughters, Morgan Weems and Natalie Weems of Marble Falls; niece, Allison Coates (Clayton) of Camarillo, California; and nephew, Wade Caldwell (Missi) of Bullard. He also has five great-nieces and one great-nephew.
He was preceded in death by his father, John Wesley “Jay” Alvey.
A funeral service is 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, at First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls, 1101 Bluebonnet Drive.
In lieu of flowers, please send remembrances to St. Frederick’s Mission Outreach, P.O. Box 812, Marble Falls, TX 78654.