For the bulk of their professional lives, he went his way, and she went hers. Their careers, both awash in words, began with the single-syllabled “I do’s” exchanged at their Kilgore wedding almost 55 years ago.
Linda Pirtle, a career educator, taught English and spent her final years in administration. Caleb, an award-winning journalism graduate of the University of Texas, has likewise been consumed by the “word business.”
Now, they are “writing off” into the sunset at full gallop, as authors, teachers and editors, as well as tending their literary website. It connects readers with today’s growing population of authors throughout the world.
They enjoy their work greatly, so discussions about retirement are rare. Thus far, sunsets have turned out to be mirages. They plan to pursue their literary passions as long as they have clear minds, ongoing creativity and the ability to find home keys.
Mastery of those home keys has been central in their work. Both would have been “big-eyed” had they known back then of the possibility that together, they would author 100 books, maybe more.
The Pirtles already are “knocking on the door,” and Guinness may have a spot for “most books authored by a couple.”
For about a dozen years, they’ve lived in Lindale, TX, their creative juices flowing like sap in the pine trees that dominate the landscape.
“Grandmotherly things” occupied Linda for a few years, and still do. The couple makes numerous trips to see grandson Jackson, 8, and granddaughter Avery, 6 — children of son Josh and daughter-in-law Taylor — in the Metroplex.
Last year, she started writing mysteries, responding to the intrigue of reviewing others’ work for years.
Both retreat to their computers routinely after daily jump-starts provided by stout coffee and the gentle warbling of songbirds in foliage around their home.
If communication is needed when they are in writing mode, they send emails to each other.
She published her first novel, The Mah Jongg Murders, last year. It was set in the mythical East Texas gated community of Leisure Lake. She recently released her second novel about the games people play. Her Deadly Dominoes, and hubby’s Back Side of a Dark Moon, both won Best of Texas book awards this year.
The soft-spoken Caleb says little about his many honors. He won the William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing at UT, and received numerous Associated Press and Texas Headliners awards while writing for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The first communications director for the Texas Tourist Development Agency, Pirtle later spent a decade as travel editor of Southern Living magazine. Then, he spent 25 years as editorial and production director for a Dallas custom publishing company.
Pirtle isn’t sure how many books he has authored, but admits to “more than 75.” (That’s more than one a year, on average since birth.)
He has traveled many miles, writing about those whose paths he crossed — from homeless folks to celebrities, from country music stars to death row inmates, and from farmers who struck it rich overnight when oil erupted. Stories about that first well are mind-boggling. It started with farmers digging for earthworms needed for a fishing junket. Soon, some of them owned enough “black gold” to build their own lakes!
His latest is “The Man Who Talks to Strangers,” a “memoir, of sorts.” It “oozes excellence,” as only his books can. It’s a great piece of work. Pirtle books are available on Amazon and at calebandlindapirtle.com.
No matter their literary greatness, however, they are even better parents. Their son, Josh, was unsurpassed as a student athlete, twice named Academic All-American. I handed him a diploma a few years back at Howard Payne University. Now a CPA and Senior Vice President of Asset Management for Crescent Properties, he’s as great with numbers as his folks are with words.