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Publisher remembered for philanthropy, devotion to family

By Ron Jenkins Published: April 30, 2003
Edward L. Gaylord, the Oklahoma City publisher who built an entertainment empire, was remembered Wednesday for philanthropy, devotion to family and love of his state.

David Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma, eulogized Gaylord as "almost a mythical figure" who was known for his public generosity, but delighted most in his children and grandchildren.

"I wish everyone could have known the real Ed Gaylord," said Boren, a former governor and U.S. senator. "No one has ever cared more about Oklahoma than he did."

Gaylord died Sunday at age 83. He was publisher of The Daily Oklahoman, succeeding his father, Edward K. Gaylord, who died in 1974 at age 101.

He led diversification of The Oklahoma Publishing Co. in the 1970s from owning other media outlets such as television and radio stations to production of television shows, acquisition of the Opryland complex in Nashville and many other enterprises.

He was in business with President George W. Bush in the Texas Rangers baseball franchise. Bush called Gaylord "a shining example of generosity, patriotism and dedication to helping others."

About 1,600 people attended the memorial service at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Dignitaries included former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, a longtime friend of Gaylord's; current U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, Gov. Brad Henry, Bob Stoops, University of Oklahoma football coach, and Barry Switzer, former Sooner coach.

J. Terry Johnson, former president of Oklahoma Christian University, said Gaylord, in his professional life, was "a go-to guy, one who could get the big jobs done."

In private, Johnson said, Gaylord was a quiet, shy family man "who loved to garden and share his produce with his friends."

Boren said Gaylord was "a person of great intellectual depth" who knew how important it was for the state's institutions to prosper.

He recalled Gaylord's numerous gifts to universities, hospitals and museums, including a $22 million donation to upgrade to college status the journalism school at OU.

Boren said Gaylord, known for his conservative politics, had only one request for the new Gaylord Hall at the OU journalism college: "to build the right wing just a little bigger than the left wing, and we did."

As a publisher, Boren said Gaylord thought it important for his paper to cover all of Oklahoma's 77 counties, so "we would have a statewide bulletin board."

The service ended with a recessional during which a Dixie Land band played "When the Saints Go Marching In," a request of Gaylord before he died.

Earlier, the band played such standards as "Amazing Grace," "Rock of Ages" and "Just a Closer Walk With Thee," and the Oklahoma City University Choir sang such hymns as "God of Our Fathers" and "The Battle Hymn of The Republic."

Gaylord was born May 28, 1919, and graduated from Stanford University in 1941.

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