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December 9, 2012

So long to a friend and coworker

NORMAN — We were just about to lock the front door and head east to print our weekly newspaper late one Tuesday morning. A farm couple pulled up to our Noble office and proceeded to come in. They had on their Sunday best, albeit they had seen better Sundays. Her hair was high and tight, the work of a professional, no doubt.

Saturday was their 50th wedding anniversary and they wanted friends and neighbors to know about the party. The newspaper story and photo of them was their only invitation. Without it, they would be celebrating alone.

We were already past deadline. My nerves were shot. Just as I began to deliver my “why didn’t you bring your own photo and write-up and you’re too late for this week speech,” my business partner emerged from our back shop with his camera, posed the couple on our couch and began shooting their official anniversary portrait.

“Go get your notebook and start writing. Don’t stand there like a cod fish,” Jerry Laizure told me. “I’ll take the photo like we always do and you can write their story like you always do.”

Indeed, that couple’s milestone was far more important than meeting any press deadline that day. That’s unselfish Jerry. Always thinking of others. Always keeping me grounded in a way only Jerry could do.

n n n

The talented, quirky, techno-savvy Laizure died this past week at age 59. We had been coworkers, business partners and fellow journalists in some capacity at four newspapers over a 38-year friendship.

His health had been deteriorating in recent years. Perhaps you had seen him at sporting events, wildfires, press conferences, ice storms, tornadoes, school parties and civic club meetings. The long, gray hair and beard, Hawaiian shirts, Santa hat and candy cane on his truck gave him standing. His walk had slowed in the last year, but his mind was still sharp.

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