James 'Jim' Watie Mayo

Nov 1, 2019

Funeral services for James “Jim” Watie Mayo, 77, of Sallisaw, were held October 11, 2019 at the First Presbyterian Church in Sallisaw, Oklahoma.

Mayo was born on July 17, 1942, in Fort Smith, Arkansas, to Richard Wheeler and Florence Marie (Baker) Mayo. He died on Thursday, October 3, 2019, at home in Sallisaw.

He was a retired community newspaper publisher for Your TIMES and was of the Presbyterian faith.

Mayo started his journalism career at age 8, selling newspapers on the street for the Sequoyah (Oklahoma) 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.

Mayo 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 backshop.

He married Rebecca “Becky” Ann Boen of Muskogee on July 17, 1965. They were married 54 years.

After college, he attended Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He left active duty in the United States Navy as a lieutenant (junior grade) in 1967.

In December 1967, Mayo and Becky moved from California back to Sallisaw, and he went to work at Your TIMES as managing editor. He later became associate publisher and general manager. Mayo was publisher of Your TIMES from 1986 to 2016 before retiring to become president of Cookson Hills Publishers Inc., the family company that owns Your TIMES.

Mayo was named to the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 1993 and was 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 was named to the Half Century Club in 2004 for 50 years of service to Oklahoma newspapers.

Mayo 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, Oklahoma, from 1987 to 1999.

He served on the board of directors (1978-87) and was president of the Oklahoma Press Association in 1987.

Mayo 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 of Indian Nations Council Boy Scouts of America (1987-1990) and assistant scoutmaster, Troop 742 Boy Scouts of America, Sallisaw (1983-1990).

Mayo also served as president of the Sallisaw Lions Club, Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce and Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation.

Mayo’s hobbies included black–and–white photography, hiking, hunting, gardening, camping, politics and correcting grammar.

The family thanks Sallisaw doctors Phil 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.

Survivors include his wife, Rebecca “Becky” Ann (Boen); two sons, John Robert “Jack” Mayo and his wife, Jennifer, of Duvall, Washington, and Jeffrey William Mayo and his wife, Beth, of Sallisaw; one sister, Andrea Mayo Quigley and her husband, John, of Beaumont, Texas; six grandchildren: Gretchen Kate Mayo, Jacob Wheeler Mayo, Zachary John Mayo, Harrison Walker Carmel Mayo, Madolyn Rose Mayo and Maddox William Mayo of Sallisaw; brother-in-law Bob Boen and his wife, Kathie Hillier, of San Carlos, California; 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 to 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.