Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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The parent company of The Oklahoman newspaper (formerly the Daily Oklahoman), Oklahoma Publishing Company is headquartered in Oklahoma City and holds business interests in broadcasting, hotels and resorts, real estate, and other industries. OPUBCO was founded in 1903 after Edward King Gaylord and two newspaper colleagues, Ray M. Dickinson and Roy M. McClintock, paid fifteen thousand dollars to purchase a 45 percent interest in the Daily Oklahoman, then owned by Roy E. Stafford. Gaylord became secretary-treasurer of OPUBCO. Under his leadership the newspaper grew and was profitable. In 1916 OPUBCO purchased the failing Oklahoma Times and operated it as a successful evening paper for sixty-eight years. Company directors proposed in 1918 to reelect OPUBCO officers but elected E. K. Gaylord president rather than Roy Stafford, who owned the controlling interest. The directors knew Gaylord largely had been responsible for the company's financial success. Stafford sold his controlling interest for $300,000, and Gaylord became OPUBCO president.

The success of the Daily Oklahoman and Oklahoma Times, along with OPUBCO's agricultural monthly magazine, the Oklahoma Farmer-Stockman, established in 1911, soon enabled the company to invest in real estate, oil and gas, and other ventures. When the Great Depression of the 1930s occurred, many passenger trains ceased to run in Oklahoma. Consequently, OPUBCO started Mistletoe Express, a truck line, to deliver the newspaper statewide. The firm soon grew into a major service for other Oklahoma businesses. By 1971 Mistletoe Express had terminals in more than fifty Oklahoma cities as well as in cities in four neighboring states.

E L Gaylord of OPUBCO

By the 1930s the company had bought an experimental wireless station and established WKY as the first major radio station in Oklahoma. With the advent of television following World War II, OPUBCO established the first television station in Oklahoma, WKY-TV. E. K. Gaylord's son, Edward L. Gaylord, later expanded OPUBCO's broadcast division to include ten radio and television stations in nine of the nation's major markets. While E. K. Gaylord had ben an accomplished business manager, Edward L. Gaylord surpassed his father as a expert business planner and forecaster, in terms of buying growth properties.

After E. K. Gaylord died in 1974, his son continued to expand OPUBCO's interests. The company purchased the Opryland complex in Nashville, Tennessee. Opryland assets included The Nashville Network (TNN), Country Music Television (CMT) and the CMT European cable networks, the Opryland Hotel and theme park, Ryman Auditorium, Opryland Music Group, and later, the General Jackson showboat. In 1988 OPUBCO purchased the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs and the nearby Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway Company that travels between Manitou Springs and the Pikes Peak summit.

In 1991 Edward L.Gaylord pooled many of OPUBCO's resources to establish Gaylord Entertainment Company, a diversified entertainment and communications firm headquartered in Nashville. He chaired that publicly traded company until spring 1999 when he became chair emeritus and his son, Edward King Gaylord II, became chair. OPUBCO, however, retained The Oklahoman, the Broadmoor Hotel, the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway Company, extensive real estate, and other investments in Oklahoma and other states as well as WKY radio in Oklahoma City.

After Edward L. Gaylord died in April 2003, one of his daughters, Christy Gaylord Everest, was elected president of OPUBCO. Her two sisters, Louise Gaylord Bennett and Mary Gaylord McClean, also became company officers. At OPUBCO's founding in 1903 E. K. Gaylord had set a course that was followed by his son Edward L. Gaylord and his grandson E. K. Gaylord II. After Edward L. Gaylord's death the course that had been followed for a hundred years continued under the leadership of his three daughters as the company entered its second century.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 16 February 2003. David Dary, The Oklahoma Publishing Company's First Century: The Gaylord Family Story (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Publishing Co., 2003).

David Dary

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