Dyers lead with six Hall of Fame members
By Ray Dyer & Andy Rieger, 2010 Inductees
Oklahoma newspaper pioneers simultaneously built their hometowns while collectively lifting their young state.
Families were and are the cornerstone of the state’s weekly and daily publications. They had well-known Oklahoma names, such as Gaylord, Lorton, Jones, Livermore, Mayo, Dyer, Reid, Muchmore, Hruby, Phillips, Pate, Nance, McBride, Engleman, Langdon, Gourley, Hefton, Perry, Stamper, Schnoebelen, Cain, Wade, Walter, Ferguson, Choate, Curtin, Fields, Shepler, Bentley, Lansden, Bellatti, Goodwin, and dozens of others.
Many are in the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.
The Dyer family tops all of them with six members, followed closely by other families with four members or honorees, including the Gaylords, Fergusons, and Goodwins.
Some family newspapers were started by moves to Oklahoma’s largest cities.
Edward King Gaylord stepped off the train in Oklahoma City in 1902 with the intention of investing in a local newspaper. A Chicago publisher had recommended he check out the post-Land Run boomtown that Oklahoma City was becoming. He liked what he saw and bought into The Oklahoman for $5,000, thus beginning a family newspaper dynasty that spanned three generations.
Eugene Lorton moved to Tulsa from Walla Walla, Washington, and bought an interest in the Tulsa World. He was the newspaper’s editor in 1911 and became sole owner and publisher in 1917. Around that time Richard Lloyd Jones, Sr. bought the Tulsa Democrat and renamed it The Tulsa Tribune, an afternoon newspaper that ceased operations in 1992 when the World bought its remaining assets. The Tulsa World would remain in the Lorton family until 2013.
Others were bound to smaller communities.
As a young man during the Great Depression, Ed Livermore, Sr. was sweeping out the front office of the Hobart Democrat-Chief one evening when two men approached him to see the publisher Everett Pate. The men were there to offer Pate $65,000 to sell his newspaper. “That was a day I’ll never forget,” Livermore recalled. “That’s what got me in the newspaper business.” He and his wife, Melba, met at the University of Oklahoma (OU) and eventually owned newspapers throughout the state, including in Claremore, Sapulpa, Edmond, Guthrie, Catoosa, Midwest City, Del City, Oklahoma City, and Mineral Wells, Texas. His son, Ed Livermore, Jr., was publisher of the Edmond Sun until it was sold in 1999.
Others like the Dyers have stood out as being among the families who have remained in Oklahoma. The Dyers are among those who have remained committed to one community—El Reno.
Ray J. Dyer came to Oklahoma from Kansas. He purchased the El Reno Tribune in 1934 from Eugene Pulliam. The Tribune has remained in the Dyer family, operated by the Dyer brothers, Sean and Ray, and their sister, Erin Dyer Thompson. Sisters Shanon Eaton and Tricia Hobson have also worked at the newspaper, along with other family members.
Ray J. Dyer was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979. He was followed by his son John R. “Jack” Dyer, who was inducted in 1982, one year after his death. In 1992, the elder Dyer’s daughter, Mary Kay Dyer, was inducted into the Hall of Fame. In 2010, Jack’s sons, Ray Dyer and Sean Dyer, were inducted, while in 2014 his daughter, Kelly Dyer Fry, was added to the Hall of Fame.
The Dyers have been reporters, editors, publishers, and presidents of various organizations, including four as president of the Oklahoma Press Association Board of Directors.
They all take pride in their family newspaper.
Over the years, many Dyer family members have worked at the El Reno Tribune. From helping to run the press to taking photos, writing stories, keeping the books, and selling advertising, it’s been a family operation. Many employees without the Dyer name have spent more than 20, 30, or even 40 years as part of the Tribune family.
“They’re all hall of famers in our books,” Sean Dyer said.