Funeral services for George Edgar Gurley are at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Ada under the direction of Criswell Funeral Home. Burial will be at Rosedale Cemetery in Ada.
Mr. Gurley, editor of The Ada Evening News for almost 30 years, died Thursday in Ada. He was 94.
Born Jan. 18, 1925, in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, to Fletcher and Lorena Gurley, George was reared by his mother after his father passed away when he was a child. His mother moved to Ardmore, where Gurley attended school, graduating from Ardmore High School in 1942.
Gurley attended the University of Oklahoma for 1 1/2 years before joining the U.S. Air Force, where he trained and served as a bombardier. After World War II, Gurley graduated from OU with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1948.
An accomplished musician, after college he pursued this passion in San Francisco, where he played clarinet in a number of jazz bands for three years. He continued his musical interests throughout his life, performing with jazz groups well into his 80s.
Gurley married Mary Elizabeth Little on Sept. 27, 1951, in the Ada home of W.D. Little Sr., the owner of The Evening News, and Mary’s father. While the Gurleys traveled extensively, they lived their entire married life in Ada. They had a daughter, Elizabeth Gurley Williams.
Gurley is survived by his wife, Mary, of the home; his daughter, Liz, Oklahoma City; a granddaughter, Hunter Taylor Brown and husband, Todd, of Oklahoma City; and three great-grandchildren, Matthew Cole, Ella Elizabeth and Jack Fletcher Brown.
Gurley became editor of The Evening News in 1952. For three decades under his leadership, the newspaper won hundreds of individual and staff awards for reporting, editorial excellence, design and photography. During his tenure, The Evening News was widely regarded as one of the preeminent small-town daily newspapers in the state and the nation.
He was a newspaperman’s newspaperman and an unapologetic taskmaster. Failure to get details correct or to think of relevant story angles — regardless how small or seemingly insignificant — was met with “suggestions” from his red grease pencil and corresponding critical commentary, almost always at a high decibel.
His own writing style was succinct. A master of the one-word sentence, Gurley abhorred verbosity in print and people.
His style was acerbic but his judgment ultimately fair, his high standards matched by generous praise for excellence.
For a serious man with a quick temper, Gurley had a strange and (sometimes) wonderful sense of humor. On many occasions, out of nowhere, he would interrupt a whirring newsroom with a cacophony of animal noises.
A teacher, mentor and even father figure for many, he led an oftentimes unruly and brilliant band of editors, reporters and photographers gifted to work at 10th and North Broadway. Under his tutelage, dozens of newsroom alums went on to critical acclaim in journalism. He helped many former employees launch successful careers in the media, education, public policy and business.
Gurley enjoyed the outdoors. He played competitive tennis for decades. He enjoyed fishing and spending time at Wilmar Farm on Jack Fork Creek.