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Obituary -- Edward L. Gaylord

One of the most recognizable figures in Oklahoma over the past several decades, Edward L. Gaylord, 83, died Sunday, April 27 from complications from cancer. A multi-talented businessman, Gaylord loved many things, but his family and state ranked right at the top. A list of Who’s Who in Oklahoma attended his memorial service, which was held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, one of many endeavors he saved during his lifetime.

University of Oklahoma President David Boren eulogized Gaylord with family and dignitaries in attendance. Some of those attending included former University of Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys football coach Barry Switzer, Oklahoma University football coach Bob Stoops, former Governor Henry Bellmon, former Miss America and news anchor Jane Jayroe, Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys and actor Rex Linn.

Born May 28, 1919, the son of a frontier Oklahoma City newspaper publisher, Gaylord went to work for his father at the age of 17. With a lifetime of devotion to The Oklahoman, Gaylord took over as the head of the Oklahoma Publishing Company in 1974 after his father died at the age of 101.

In addition to the Oklahoma Publishing Company, Gaylord was well known for the Gaylord Entertainment Company. In 1983 he purchased the Opryland Complex in Nashville, which included The Nashville Network (TNN), Country Music Television (CMT), the Opryland Hotel, Theme Park and the General Jackson Showboat. Later he included the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs as part of his empire.

Gaylord was dedicated to improving the life of those in the state of Oklahoma and worked tirelessly on many projects which did just that. According to an article in the Oklahoman, “his most visible role, the one he cherished above all others, short of family, was his association with The Oklahoman and its parent company.

“Underscoring his passion for Oklahoma, Mr. Gaylord has left an indelible mark on our state and touched the lives of generations of Oklahomans,” said Lt. Governor Mary Fallin. He leaves his family and all of us a legacy of commitment to community, civic involvement and generosity of spirit.”

Another article stated that “Gaylord’s greatest legacy may not be the buildings he built or the businesses he started, but the four children he and his wife raised to have the same commitment to their community that Gaylord and his father had.”

Gaylord was known in the equine community through his daughter Mary Gaylord McClean. His interest began when his girls started with riding lessons. He followed his daughter’s show ring career and especially loved the gaited horses, Bandstand! and his all-time favorite CH Santana Lass.

“Dad was partial to the excitement of the gaited horses,” said McClean. “He thought walking and that other stuff was pretty boring.”

He was preceded in death by his wife, Thelma, his parents, a sister and a grandson, Jimmy Everest. Gaylord is survived by four children and their spouses: Christy Everest and her husband, Jim; Louise Bennett and her husband, Clayton; E.K. Gaylord II and his wife, Natalie; Mary McClean and her husband, Jeff; as well as nine grandchildren.

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