Jim Standard spent 35 years working at The Oklahoman. After retiring, he went into the ministry and pastored at churches in Italy, Texas and Oklahoma.
Jim Standard, former top editor of The Oklahoman, died Tuesday at Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City. He was 70 years old and had been treated for cancer.
Standard spent 35 years at The Oklahoman, and its onetime afternoon paper, the Oklahoma City Times, starting at the bottom when he was barely out of his teens. Along the way he earned a reputation as a pugnacious reporter, then later an editor who influenced a generation of young journalists who worked in The Oklahoman's newsroom in the 1970s and 1980s. He also presided over the newsroom's conversion to the computer age, as The Oklahoman'seditors and reporters were among the first in the industry to write and edit stories, as well as design news pages, on computer systems.
Funeral services are pending.
James Noel Standard grew up in Little Rock, Ark., where he started his newspaper career as a copyboy at the Arkansas Gazette while in high school. He attended the University of Arkansas but left before graduation, eager to work full time at a place far from home: Borger, Texas. He was there only a year before he was hired in 1960 as an obituary writer, at the age of 20, at The Oklahoman and Times.
He rose rapidly through the newspapers' hierarchy over the next quarter century. He covered all aspects of the criminal justice system — police and the courts — and the state Capitol, specializing in investigative reporting. He was sent to Dallas in November 1963, after President John F. Kennedy was slain, and stood only a few feet from Jack Ruby when Ruby killed suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
He was selected as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1969, and spent a year with his family in Cambridge, Mass. By 1972 he began the first of key editing jobs at The Oklahoman and Times, before being named managing editor in 1975. He became executive editor, the newsroom's top position at the time, in March 1984, after the Oklahoma City Times merged with The Oklahoman. In 1990 he became editorial page editor and wrote a weekly column, "Jim Standard's Oklahoma."
When he retired in 1995, Standard reflected on his 35-year career and his time working for the Gaylord family. "Journalists view their job as sort of a priesthood," he wrote in his final column, "and the good ones tend to gravitate to places that allow them to pursue their careers with honesty and integrity."
Ed Kelley, The Oklahoman's editor, said Standard was the bridge between journalists who began their careers at the newspaper in the Great Depression, and those who came years later and remain on the job in the 21st century. "He was a master at dealing with people of all ages, of all levels of experience," said Kelley, who was hired by Standard as a summer intern. "And he had news judgment that was impeccable."
Standard was a former Oklahoma Newsman of the Year, was active in journalistic and civic organizations, and was a frequent public speaker and lecturer during his career.
After he retired from the newspaper, Standard began a career in the ministry. He pastored at congregations in Florence, Italy; Lampasas, Texas; and at the time of his death, the Atwood Baptist Church in Atwood, in southeastern Oklahoma.
Survivors include his wife, Jodie; sons Matt Standard and Mitch Standard, both of Oklahoma City; and Kirby Standard, of Orlando, Fla.; three stepchildren, Suzanne Rust, of Anchorage, Alaska; Frederick Sloan, of Lampasas, Texas; and Christine Meinders, of Los Angeles; and three grandchildren.
"There are a lot of us across the country who are better journalists because we learned from Jim's example," said Mike Shannon, The Oklahoman's managing editor who worked with Standard longer than anyone.
"The work we do is serious business, but he did it with a great sense of fairness and good humor. Oklahoma is a better place because of the newspaper and pastoral work Jim did during his life."
March 26, 1964, President's Commission, TESTIMONY OF DETECTIVE B. H. COMBEST,
Mr. COMBEST. Yes, sir; in my letter there to Chief Curry I recall there was a girl that worked at the police information desk, which is in the basement, by the records bureau, had went out into the basement, at least on one occasion to summon officers that were wanted on the telephone. On the next time that I noticed her start to go into there, she was stopped by Sergeant Putnam, as I recall it. He advised her that she would not go into the basement if she had messages to officers that were in the basement, and she was not to leave he assignment behind the information desk until the transfer was over. Also, to a civilian employee that worked in the jail booking office proper. He had came out into the parking basement, appeared to have a look around to see what was going on. He was told to get back behind the desk in the jail booking office and remain there until after the transfer was over. Also, one other incident, I think I have also put in my letter there and regarding a reporter for the Oklahoma City News, I believe his name is Jim Standard. He did not have a press card. He was stopped and questioned, but he did have proper identification to prove that he did work for the Oklahoma City newspaper. He had a hospitalization card made out to a group policy of this newspaper in Oklahoma City. Had some letters and correspondence to him, addressed to him at that location, and after convincing myself and Beaty, he convinced Captain Talbert that he was a legitimate member of the press and he was admitted. Two or 3 days after the incident I was in Oklahoma City and I saw the article he had written showing this incident in Dallas and his picture was also in the Oklahoma City paper, and I remembered him. I recognized him. And he wrote a pretty good article on the security in the basement.
2057 FBI report dated December 11, 1963, of interview of James N. Standard at Oklahoma City, Okla. (CD 85, p. 521).
Letter to Harold Weisberg:
Now, I must ask you one other question which perhaps you can put to rest for me. Early in '64 I was told by one of two men (reporters) that Ochus V. Campbell had seen Lee just minutes before the shots were fired ON THE FIRST FLOOR in a small storage closet in the area.
At the time I did not put too much significance into the story because Truly's statements had also been revealed in regard to his confrontation with Lee directly after the assassination in the second floor lunchroom. I told myself at that point perhaps the two stories had somehow been confused in the reporter's mind (although I asked him about this and he insisted these were two separate stories). I waited, of course, for the Warren Report (and the 26 volumes). As you know, Campbell was not called before the Commission. There has been no further mention of the Oswald-Campbell confrontation so far as I know. I have been told that it is almost as hard to talk to Campbell now about the assassination as it is to talk to Wesley Frazier about it.
This story came to me from one of two reporters. It was either Don Janson of the NY Times or Jim Standard of the Daily Oklahoman. Should it be pursued, or do you think it is a waste of time? At any rate. the story has re-intrigued me based on Mrs. Arnold's deposition end Jarman's obviously rigged (changed) story.
Billy H. Combest
Commission Exhibit No. 2874, James Standard, reporter, Oklahoma City Times, diigo,