Former AP reporter Shaw dies; broke Nixon resignation news
Don Grantham Funeral Home in Duncan, Oklahoma, said Wednesday that Shaw died Sunday at his home. A cause of death was not released.
While working in the AP’s White House bureau, Shaw covered the fall of one president and the rise of another, President Gerald Ford, who later pardoned Nixon.
“Gaylord and I worked that story together, and then he worked the bulletin that went on the wire, and that was a pretty major one,” Walter Mears, former bureau chief for the AP’s Washington bureau and a longtime friend and colleague of Shaw’s, recalled from his home in North Carolina. “It was great that the AP had a guy you could rely on to deliver everything there was to deliver on a story like that.”
Shaw later worked for the Los Angeles Times, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 1978, and for Newsday, where he shared a Pulitzer for spot reporting in 1997. He returned to his native Oklahoma after his retirement.
Lou Boccardi, a former AP president, said Shaw had “a slow smile that got wider as he spun out details of a good story he was working on. He lived his work.”
Boccardi called Shaw “a straight arrow in the sense of keeping his eye on the center of a story.”
Shaw was born in El Reno, Oklahoma, and began his newspaper career as a 13-year-old sports reporter for the El Reno American. He later worked for the Lawton Constitution before joining AP’s Oklahoma City bureau at age 20.
“For most of his life in journalism, Gaylord was the youngest guy to do whatever he was doing. He was just that talented and precocious,” recalled Michael Sniffen, who joined the AP’s Washington staff in June 1973, as the Watergate story exploded.
Jay Perkins, who covered Congress for the news cooperative in the 1970s, recalled Shaw’s work on an investigative team.
“He was a bulldog; he just wouldn’t stop. He kept doing the research,” said Perkins, a retired journalism professor from LSU.
Shaw retired in 2002 and settled in Duncan, the hometown of his wife, Judy. He continued to report occasionally for The Duncan Banner, including the 2005 murder trial of Ricky Ray Malone, who was convicted and sentenced to death for killing Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Nikky Green after Green tried to arrest Malone for operating a mobile methamphetamine lab.
He won the 1978 Pulitzer for a series of stories about unsafe conditions at hundreds of dams across the United States and was among Newsday reporters who shared the Pulitzer in 1997 for coverage of the explosion of a TWA jet over Long Island.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children, a brother, six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at First Christian Church in Duncan with burial in Duncan City Cemetery.