James Watie Mayo
James “Jim” Watie Mayo, 77, resident of Sallisaw, passed away Thursday, October 3, at his home. Jim was born July 17, 1942, in Fort Smith, Ark. to Richard Wheeler and Florence Marie (Baker) Mayo.
Jim was a retired community newspaper publisher for the Sequoyah County Times and was of the Presbyterian faith.
Jim started his journalism career at age eight selling newspapers on the street for the Sequoyah County Times in 1950. He did odd jobs, ran errands and continued working through high school with his duties expanding to running a Linotype, composing ads, making up pages, distributing type, stereotyping and other duties in the mechanical department.
Jim was valedictorian of the 1960 Sallisaw High School class. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma in 1964. At OU he worked on the student newspaper selling ads, writing and editing news and composing ads in the back shop.
Jim married Rebecca “Becky” Ann Boen of Muskogee on July 17, 1965. They were married 54 years.
After college Jim attended Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. He left active duty in the United States Navy as a lieutenant (junior grade) in 1967.
In December 1967, he and Becky moved from California back to Sallisaw and Jim went to work at Your TIMES as managing editor. He later became associate publisher and general manager. Jim was publisher of the Sequoyah County Times from 1986 to 2016, before retiring to become president of Cookson Hills Publishers, Inc., the family company that owns the Vian Tenkiller News, Eastern Times-Register, Eufaula Indian Journal, McIntosh County Democrat, Okmulgee Times and Henryetta Free-Lance.
Jim was named to the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 1993, the recipient of the H. Milt Phillips Award for service to newspaper journalism and outstanding citizenship in his community, state and nation in 1999, recipient of the Beachy Musselman award for outstanding contribution to newspaper journalism in 2002, and named to the Half Century Club in 2004 for 50 years of service to Oklahoma newspapers.
Jim is the author of A Pictorial History of Sallisaw, Okla. published in 1993. He served on the First National Bank of Sallisaw Board of directors from 1975 to 1991. He co-owned the Lincoln County News newspaper in Chandler, Okla. from 1987 to 1999.
Jim served on the board of directors (1978-87) and was president of the Oklahoma Press Association in 1987.
Jim was a member of the Sallisaw Lions Club, Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma Press Association, National Newspaper Association, International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, non-lawyer member of the first Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints (1974-77), nominating committee of Grand River Dam Authority (1980), board of directors of Oklahoma Historical Society (1986-88), Oklahoma Higher Education Alumni Council (1993-95), district chairman Indian Nations Council Boy Scouts of America (1987-1990), and assistant scoutmaster, Troop 742 Boy Scouts of America, Sallisaw (1983-1990).
Jim also served as president of the Sallisaw Lions Club, Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce and Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation.
Jim’s hobbies included black and white photography, hiking, hunting, gardening, camping, politics and correcting grammar.
The family thanks Sallisaw doctors Bob Nowlin and Phil Agent, the staff at Northeastern Health Systems – Sequoyah, the doctors and staff at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and all the others who took care of Jim and made 25 years of fighting heart disease and cancer merely a nuisance during a life well-lived.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Richard Wheeler Mayo Jr. and baby brother Dale Baker Mayo.
Jim is survived by his wife, Rebecca “Becky” Ann (Boen); two sons, John Robert (Jack) Mayo and his wife Jennifer, of Duvall, Wash. and Jeffrey William Mayo and his wife Beth, of Sallisaw; one sister, Andrea Mayo Quigley and husband John of Beaumont, Texas; six grandchildren, Gretchen Kate Mayo, Jacob Wheeler Mayo, Zachary John Mayo and Harrison Walker Carmel Mayo, all of Duvall and Madolyn Rose Mayo and Maddox William Mayo of Sallisaw; brother-in-law, Bob Boen and wife Kathie Hillier of San Carlos, Calif.; five nieces and two nephews and the current and former staffs of the Sequoyah County Times.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made the Boy Scout Troop 731, c/o First United Methodist Church, PO Box 887, Sallisaw, OK 74955; First Presbyterian Church, PO Box 417, Sallisaw, OK 74955; or the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation, 3601 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105.
Visitation with family present to greet friends will be from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, at Agent & Mallory-Martin Chapel in Sallisaw.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, at the First Presbyterian Church in Sallisaw. Cremation and memorial service are under the direction of Agent & Mallory-Martin Funeral Home.