Edith Kinney Gaylord
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Edith Kinney Gaylord, also referred to as Edith Gaylord Harper, was born March 5, 1916 in Oklahoma City to parents Inez and E. K. Gaylord. Her father was editor and publisher of The Oklahoman and The Oklahoma City Times. Edith attended Colorado College in Colorado Springs before graduating from Wells College in Aurora, New York in spring of 1939 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Edith began her journalistic career reporting for her father’s newspaper and radio station in Oklahoma City. In the summer of 1942, she was hired by the Associated Press in New York and was transferred five months later to their Washington, D.C. bureau. She was the first female employee on the general news staff.
She filed stories from New York, Hollywood, San Francisco and Chicago while following Madam Chiang Kai-shek on her tour of America. When first lady Eleanor Roosevelt insisted the AP send a female reporter to cover her news conferences, Edith was assigned to the task.
In 1944, Edith was elected president of the National Women’s Press Club, and served as secretary of Mrs. Roosevelt’s press conference committee and media liaison between her and the press. She also covered other notable events, including the death of Franklin Roosevelt, the new first lady Bess Truman and the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London.
Edith returned to Oklahoma City and rejoined the family business in 1963, serving as a member of the board of directors and corporate secretary for The Oklahoma Publishing Company.
Edith quietly began her philanthropy efforts in the 1960s, often donating anonymously to those in need. In 1982 she founded both Inasmuch Foundation and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation to carry out her giving. Robert J. Ross is the current President and CEO of the foundations. Edith became a charter trustee at Colorado College in Colorado Springs and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the college in 1992. The University of Oklahoma also presented Edith with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1997 for her contributions
Edith Kinney Gaylord died January 28, 2001, at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Oklahoma City, the same hospital where she had been born 84 years earlier.
Universities in several states have honored the memory of Edith by naming new academic centers or professorships for her.
- University of Oklahoma, Gaylord College: Edith Kinney Gaylord Library
- Oklahoma City University, Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management: Edith Kinney Gaylord Center
- Arizona State University, Cronkite School of Journalism: Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professorship in Journalism Ethics
- University of Maryland, College Park, Knight Hall for Journalism: Edith Kinney Gaylord Library and Resource Center
- Colorado College: Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center and Edith Gaylord House