|The overwhelmed old professor's dazed look.|
I used some of those comments in my brief speech last Saturday night, somewhat stunned by the respect of a standing ovation, the comments of OPA President Robby Trammell, and the well-wishes of many friends.
|Wth OPA Prez Robby Trammell.|
I wanted to write about it, without sounding too narcissistic, and if it does, just excuse me for thanking so many people. I also wanted a digital record of this event on my blog, which is sort of a diary, a history.
There's a humbling sense of satisfaction in having touched, and been touched, by so many wonderful people.
|With friend Ray Lokey|
Following is what my long time friend and fellow journalist Steve Booher wrote, which was adapted for Trammell's introduction. Steve is kind, and embellishes the facts a little like every great storyteller, so he actually makes me sound good. I'm thankful.
|Two older newspaper friends|
"My first encounter with the younger Mr. Clark came when I took a job with the Duncan Banner in the summer of 1974. I'd spent about five years honing my craft at a Kansas daily and an Oklahoma weekly, and was grateful for an opportunity to work for Harrington Wimberly, his son-in-law Al Hruby, and legendary editor Callaway Buckley at the Banner. What I didn't know was that I was replacing a young man who couldn't be replaced. Terry spent his time at the Banner developing contacts throughout southern Oklahoma; contacts that eventually led to his partnership with Donald Morrison in owning and operating the little country weekly a few miles south of Duncan, the Waurika News-Democrat.
"It didn't take me long to realize that I couldn't clone myself into a thinner and more personable Terry Clark. But luckily, I was smart enough to stop by Waurika and get to know the guy who had endeared himself to Banner readers north-south from Rush Springs to the Red River, and east-west from tiny Loco, Okla. to Lawton. He welcomed me, not only giving me advice on who I needed to know in order to service readers in an unfamiliar territory, but also much-needed information on how to keep his former bosses at the Banner – now my employers – placated. He didn't have to do that, but those of you who have met Terry, either personally or through his column in The Publisher, know that practically nothing is off limits when it comes to his sharing of insight into the newspaper industry. Although the Banner's circulation dwarfed that at Waurika, Terry was secure in knowing that the new kid on the block stood no chance of stealing away readers from the News-Democrat.
|Steve is a consummate storyteller|
"Today, when greeting each other at OPA functions, we still bring up the days we spent covering high school football. At some point, we'll have to discuss and correct each other about which southern Oklahoma teams – Marlow, Comanche, Rush Springs or Waurika – were playing each other the night that the temperature was near zero, the wind was howling at 30 miles per hour, 55-gallon drums of burning wood were placed along the sidelines to warm players, and one school chose to drive its bus onto the center of the frozen field and unload players just in time for the kickoff… hoping to gain an advantage.
"Newspapers – particularly rural Oklahoma newspapers – have a friend watching over them as they struggle from day-to-day and week-to-week to produce a quality product. Thank goodness his advice is always free. He would tell you that's about what it's worth. Not true, Terry, and by the way, I think it was Comanche vs. Marlow that cold November night in 1974."
|Susan and I celebrating with H. Milt Phillips|
"An ancient journalist got the greatest scoop--the one on one interview of all time.
"The old journalist was Moses, who interviewed God. He wrote a beautiful 10-word lead, and he turned it into a little book you've probably all heard of-- 'Genesis'.
"In that little book he writes, 'There were giants in the earth in those days.' King James Version translation is 'people of renown, power, influence.'
"When I look at all the people who have been honored with the Milt Phillips awards, I know there are still giants in the earth.
I never dreamed. I'm humbled and dumbfounded to be included with this giants--I'm proud to have known and to know about 25 of them, and you, and count you as friends.
I'm especially aware that only two other non-active newspaper people have been selected. Ben Blackstock, and the only other professor, Dr. Harry Heath, my friend and last mentor. They forgot more about journalism than I know. Wow. Giants.
"Mark Thomas told me yesterday that I still didn't have the award. I guess I was the "presumptive" award winner. Who thought up that word? "Assumptive" would better fit our anatomy.
"It's a long way from the Waurika News-Democrat grad school of journalism, interning by walking the sidelines in rain with huge battery back and plastic over the flash along with Steve Booher. Then I'd go back in the darkroom pushing Tri-x film for a grainy image.
"My wife Susan jokes that I refer to you as "my people. " It occurs to me that I first attended an OPA convention 40 years ago, when we won our first Sweepstakes award. I'm still proud to be a newspaper man, most at home here and with students. I have a great job, working with newspapers, but not having to make deadline, and working with students.
"No honor is awarded to a single individual. There are too many to thank, but I have to mention Waurika partner Don Morrison. I thank OPA, each of you, about 3000 students, my families, my children and wife for putting up with me.
"You made me what I am…it's your fault, as another doctor once wrote, by the name of Seuss:
'Look what we found in the park in the dark. We will take him, home. We will call him Clark.'
"A father in law once quipped, 'Don't park in the dark with Clark.' Too late.
"Thank you so much. This is a treasure."