Oklahoma journalism icon Joan Gilmore dies at 94
Oklahoma City lost a great friend on Monday.
Joan Gilmore, who arrived in Oklahoma City in 1952 as a young reporter from Waukegan, Illinois, died at age 94, days before her May 14 birthday.
In a career spanning more than half a century, Gilmore was more than just a journalist. She was a true supporter of the Oklahoma City community, arts and culture throughout the state, and especially the people of Oklahoma. She was a journalist and columnist at The Oklahoma Daily for 28 years, then put in 30 more to Log recordingwhere his “Around Town” articles kept readers informed of important daily events and things to expect in the city.
“Joan Gilmore was an institution in Log recording and a strong advocate for the people of Oklahoma,” said Journal Record editor Joe Dowd. “Her voice was as authoritative as it was sympathetic, and she was a trusted source of information for thousands of readers for decades.”
Helen Sanger Wallace, a friend and colleague, said Gilmore was good at her job because she loved him so much.
“Joan has written about every event in Oklahoma City at one point or another. She covered fashion and parties, and interviewed movie stars and politicians with such ease and loved being part of the social scene,” Wallace said. “We lost a good one today, Joan Gilmore, my first editor at Oklahoma and my mentor over the years.
Gilmore helped found Leadership Oklahoma City and was deeply involved in community organizations ranging from the Oklahoma City Ballet to the Children’s Hospital Foundation. As she was being considered for induction into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame, another friend, Marion Paden, described her as a ‘rock star’ who made it her mission to challenge the status quo. .
“Joan and I had been friends and neighbors for over 25 years. From the start, I was inspired by her drive and determination, her commitment to her community, and her tireless efforts to advance and support women. There isn’t a single significant event or organization in our community that she hasn’t helped create, promote or support,” Paden said. “If I was asked to help write a book about her life, I would add a sentence or two about how she beat esophageal cancer, how quickly she sent a thank you note and about how she loved her husband Al and so many of us so dearly. I was so lucky and so grateful to be her friend.
According to an article published around the time Gilmore won a Journal Record Lifetime Award, she covered everything from backyard barbecues to a boxing match in New York’s Madison Square Garden to a fashion show in Europe. She has written over 1,500 news stories, covered over 10,000 weddings, and written over a million words to benefit the Oklahoma City community.
“I came to Oklahoma City as a ‘Damned Yankee’ but it didn’t take too long to become a real Okie,” Gilmore wrote in his final column for the Journal Record in August 2020. “Reporters benefit sometimes special treatment. I remember petting a cheetah, feeding a rhino, riding a camel in Morocco, chatting with Tom Selleck in our own Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, and riding in the sub- sailor from Oklahoma.
“God was good when he led me to Oklahoma City in 1952 and led me toOklahomathen to the smart business newspaper,Log recording. My career has been so much more exciting and satisfying than I could have imagined and all myLog recordreaders. I hope you will miss me too.