A collage of images of John Nova Lomax, including him riding a bicycle, holding a baby, posing with a dog, and sitting in front of a brick wall

Photo courtesy Lomax family

This issue includes our last story by inimitable Houston writer John Nova Lomax, who died in May at age 53. I became acquainted with John’s work when I lived in Houston, and he was writing for Houstonia and the Houston Press. For the latter, he wrote a memorable series, “The Sole of Houston,” from 2006 to 2010, recording his walks on every major Houston street. His first story for Texas Highways, on the small coastal town of San Leon, was published in the June 2020 issue. I was thrilled when he accepted our proposal to become a writer-at-large in 2021. From the beginning, he had a keen sense of the stories our readers wanted to hear. He once told me in an email that Texas Highways was “the magazine I was truly born to write for.” That certainly came across in his stories, and our readers always connected with them.

His most personal story for us was an Open Road essay, which ran in the August 2020 issue, tracing his family’s roots along the coastline of Texas’ Golden Triangle. He worked closely with deputy editor Mike Hoinski and called the essay “the story of maybe the decade for me in terms of personal pride and how much I poured into it.” John’s prolific output, offbeat taste, and stellar reputation instantly made the magazine cooler, Mike recalls. “The essay is the first piece I worked on with him. I think it gets at the heart of the issues that plagued John,” Mike says. “I know he confronted an army of demons to write it.”

Along with his print stories, John wrote often for our website. He was game for anything and enthusiastically chased down obscure leads to find stories. One of his most popular web stories originated from a message board where a poster described fond memories of “enchilada day” at public schools in San Antonio. “I think it would be fun to get at the lore of Enchilada Day in San Antonio and of course run that recipe,” John wrote in his pitch to web editor Sarah Thurmond. “I will take one for the team and make a batch myself, if that’s what it takes.” He proceeded to interview graduates from San Antonio schools, North East ISD’s executive director of school nutrition, and a former superintendent. “And, yes, he made the recipe,” Sarah says. “How can you not appreciate that level of commitment? It became one of our most-viewed stories of all time.”

John’s contributions to an online series on Roadside Oddities inspired this issue’s “What in the World Is That?” For a retrospective of John’s stories, visit texashighways.com/lomax. We’re grateful to have John’s words as part of the legacy of the magazine. His loss is a great one to our staff and to all of Texas letters.

Emily Roberts Stone
Editor in Chief

From the October 2023 issue

Get the Magazine

Save up to 62% off the cover price


Sign Up for Our Newsletters

Sign up for magazine extras, upcoming events, Mercantile specials, subscription offers, and more.