NORMAN — Jerry Laizure, an award-winning news and sports photojournalist whose work was published in The Transcript as well as in newspapers and magazines and on Websites worldwide, died Monday after a brief illness.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Goodrich Memorial United Methodist Church, 201 Hayes Street in Norman with Primrose Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
“He may have been short in stature but he was an absolute giant among the state’s working press,” said Andy Rieger, executive editor of The Transcript and a friend and co-worker since 1975. “He was an amazing man, a first-rate journalist and a great friend but I think he was a better husband, father and grandfather.”
Laizure, 59, had worked for Oklahoma newspapers since age 14 when he fibbed about his age and began working in Bartlesville. He worked at the Pawhuska newspaper before moving to Norman to study journalism at the University of Oklahoma.
He began working in the production shop at The Oklahoma Daily while at OU. He left the university to work at PennWell in Tulsa, briefly working on the team that produced the Oil and Gas Journal. He returned to the newspaper business after four months.
“He missed the newspaper business,” his wife, Peggy, said. “He just loved the excitement of it all.”
The couple married in 1972 and have three children and seven grandchildren.
Laizure was a recognizable figure to coaches, athletes, police and firefighters. He was often first on the scene of fires and accidents. At sporting events, he often wore a Christmas hat when the season warranted and Hawaiian shirts year-round. His truck had a candy cane antennae, which he jokingly told police helped identify him as a member of the press.
Always on the cutting edge of technology, Laizure helped install many of the computers at The Transcript. He also often set up press rooms for writers and photographers and helped out-of-town photographers with logistics of covering sporting events here.
Laizure left the university in 1984 to be co-founder and co-publisher of the Cleveland County Record, a weekly newspaper in Noble. At Noble, the newspaper was one of the first in the state to be produced totally on personal computers.
The Transcript purchased the newspaper in 1989 and retained Laizure as the newspaper’s editor.
He was The Transcript’s senior photographer at the time of his death. His photos have been honored with awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists and Oklahoma Press Association. The family was active in organizing and making Christmas and Easter gifts for homeless children living at East Main Place and at the Salvation Army.
In addition to his wife, daughter Jennifer and sons Phillip and Jackson, Laizure is survived by three brothers and a sister. He was preceded in death by his parents, Cecil and Mary Laizure and brothers Robert, Cecil, and Michael.