E.K. Gaylord's Death

Oklahoman Published: May 17, 2002
1974: The Oklahoman's political cartoonist Jim Lange drew this in tribute to E.K. Gaylord, who died on May 30.
E.K. Gaylord's Death
News of the 1970s
The 1980s

On May 30, 1974, Edward King Gaylord died shortly before midnight at his Oklahoma City home. He had put in a full day's work at his office. He was 101.

The next afternoon an editorial in the Oklahoma City Times read in part:

"E.K. Gaylord was a man of awesome self-discipline and bubbling curiosity. Coupled with his innate intelligence and a marvelous, carefully husbanded physique, these qualities of mind and spirit spurred him to achievements matching the almost-double lifetime that he lived.

"A public figure in Oklahoma all of the 70-plus years he was in the state, he was the subject of countless legends, myths and misunderstandings. In later years, the total effect of his life had gained at least grudging admiration even from many of those who opposed him and his views.

"To those closer to him, his warmth, humor, and appreciation of life and the people around him were glowing and endearing characteristics....

"He found it difficult to understand deviations from what he considered the clear and abiding moral standards he accepted as basic....

This photo of E.K. Gaylord and his wife, Inez, was taken in their Oklahoma City home.
"His business acumen was of the daring, far-sighted kind, often leading to decisions counter to the fashions of the moment - and eventually fruitful. He delighted in his daily ventures into the stock market, as much for the thrill of 'guessing right' as for the money involved.

"Contrary to much of the public legend, he was neither highly directive in running his business empire nor arbitrarily adamant in decision-making, whether personal or political.

"He believed in, and practiced, delegation of authority to those who worked for his various enterprises, giving gentle direction, finally, only when he thought it absolutely necessary. Defeats of political candidates or issues he backed were taken philosophically, with a silent bow in the direction of 'the majority.'...

"Reserved in the rather courtly manner of an earlier time, he maintained a youthful eagerness for tomorrow. He didn't particularly like being singled out for notice because of his age.

"He never, really, grew old."

Across town the competing Oklahoma Journal, owned by W.P. "Bill" Atkinson, published a brief editorial the day after E.K. Gaylord died. It read:

"No man has left a more indelible imprint on the pages of Oklahoma history. His tracks of solid accomplishments will long serve as guidemarks for those who would call forth the best in their personal lives and make the betterment of their city, state and nation a constant goal.

"Of him it may truly be said, he shoved back the horizon for generations to come."

Four days after his death, services were held in Oklahoma Christian College's Hardeman Auditorium, and he was laid to rest beside the grave of his wife of more than 60 years, Inez K. Gaylord, in Memorial Park Cemetery. She had died about four months before on Jan. 16, 1974.

Edward L.
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