Former Oklahoma attorney general, radio reporter remember assassination of JFK

Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson and radio reporter Jerry Kunkel, an Enid native who was covering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, share their memories of the tragedy on the event's 50th anniversary.
by Adam Kemp Published: November 22, 2013

On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a former Oklahoma attorney general and a radio reporter who was there to cover the tragedy share their memories.

Drew Edmondson

Drew Edmondson never skipped school.

But on the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, Edmondson left class to jump into his 1949 Ford to head home to comfort his mother.

An announcement over the school intercom declared that John F. Kennedy had been shot while riding in his presidential motorcade in Dallas.

Edmondson went to the office to call his mom.

“She couldn't speak, she was just crying,” Edmondson said. “It was a loss for the nation but to an extent, our family not only lost a president, they lost a colleague and a friend.”

The Edmondson family is steeped in political history. Drew served as Oklahoma's attorney general; his uncle, J. Howard Edmondson, was the 16th governor of Oklahoma; and his father Ed Edmondson served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 20 years.

In October of 1961, Kennedy made his only visit to Oklahoma as president to dedicate a highway and visit the Kermac Angus Ranch as a guest of Sen. Robert S. Kerr.

In a photograph that sits in Edmondson's office, Kennedy is shown standing next to Kerr, looking at a black angus bull.

Just five feet to Kennedy's left is Drew Edmondson, watching the president's every move.

“To see all this as a 16-year-old kid, it was special,” Edmondson said. “I had been around him before, but there was always separation. This is something I will remember forever.”

Edmondson has trouble keeping his emotions in check even now when talking about the assassination of the president.

He said he remembers being glued to the television as the events unfolded: the swearing in of Lyndon Johnson, the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, the killing of Oswald by Jack Ruby.

“For days it was just nonstop coverage of the aftermath of the assassination,” he said. “It was the beginning of what turned out to be a monumental decade.”

by Adam Kemp
Enterprise Reporter
Adam Kemp is an enterprise reporter and videographer for the Oklahoman and Kemp grew up in Oklahoma City before attending Oklahoma State University. Kemp has interned for the Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Gazette and covered Oklahoma State...
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