John Gambill and Barry Giles with Giles’ mother on vacation.

West Texas newspaper editor decided to edit out an LGBT loved one

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer

When Barry Giles’ mother, Brenda Light, died on Feb. 14, the funeral home in Olton, Texas submitted the obituary to the Olton Enterprise, the town’s weekly newspaper. But while Ramage Funeral Directors sent the newspaper the full obituary, the newspaper’s editor redacted it.

The original obituary read, “Those left to cherish her memories include her son, Barry Giles, and his husband, John Gambill, of Dallas.” But the newspaper’s editor removed Gambill from the obit, which was printed at no charge, saying only that Light was survived by her son.

Giles and Gambill have been together 31 years. Gambill said when his mother-in-law’s husband died in 2010, she moved from Olton to Dallas and lived in Oak Cliff, about a mile from her son and son-in-law. Olton is about 50 miles northwest of Lubbock.

Gambill said he and his husband and mother-in-law traveled to Australia and New Zealand and sailed the Mediterranean together. In recent years, he said, his mother-in-law couldn’t bend down very well, so he’d run over to her house and scoop the litter box and plant flowers in the yard for her.

“We spent holidays together,” Gambill said. “We did what a family would do.”

Gambill is a funeral director and said one way to get fired quickly is to leave a loved one off of an obituary.

“That’s a big no-no,” he said.

So he called Phillip Hamilton, owner and editor of the Olton Enterprise, and asked if he had received the full obituary. Hamilton said yes.

“Why was my name cut out,” Gambill said he asked. Hamilton replied, “Because I wanted to cut it out.”

An article about Hamilton in the Southern Baptist Texan said he was raised at First Baptist Church in Dallas and, in addition to owning the newspaper, he is the preacher at Bethel Baptist Church in Plainview, about 25 miles east of Olton.