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April 7, 2000

Jane Schneider was probably wearing a broad smile at the moment of her birth and her good-natured wit just continued to evolve from that point. Still today she always seems to be enjoying life even in times when you know inward struggles are weighing her down. Jane's sense of humor is the kind that makes her conversation sparkle and her written word a pleasure to read. Her winsome smile is one of the first things you notice upon meeting her. She is what Oklahomans call lanky, a lean and trim looking figure. In the early 1940s in Perry, she was an editor and columnist at The Perry Daily Journal, and she helped me to confirm that my early ambition to be a journalist was worth the best effort I had to give.

As a columnist for The Journal, she went by the name "Jane of The Journal," and she quickly attracted a large contingent of loyal readers. She commented on such community matters as the grace and beauty of Lois (Magee) Severe, who then adorned the ticket window at the local movie palace. She also kept readers up to date on Perry homes where badminton courts sprouted once the arrival of spring made that possible. Her material was always enlivened by that unmistakable touch of whimsy that seemed to come so naturally.

She came to Perry in 1941 with a brand new degree in journalism from Oklahoma. A.&M. College and joined the news staff at The Perry Daily Journal. The "staff” consisted essentially of Francis Thetford, a former West Point cadet and also a J-school graduate; and me, a wide-eyed, innocent and recent graduate of Perry high school. In no time, Jane, Francis and I had bonded and soon found how much fun it can be when you're working at a craft you love with congenial folks at your side. Those were happy times, just months before the disastrous Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor that propelled this country into World War II.

Jane was not the only newsperson in her family. An older brother, Sam Schneider, was the long-time farm editor for Tulsa's popular radio station, KVOO. She had several siblings and seemed to be close to each of them.

Because of the war, personnel changes came at a fast clip at The Journal office, as they did elsewhere. Francis left for a better paying job with the Ponca City News, I joined the Army, and Jane departed for the Associated Press bureau in Oklahoma City. Staff restructuring was necessary, everywhere. Francis later returned to The Journal for a brief stint before becoming a columnist for the Daily Oklahoman and I came home after the war, but Jane moved onward and upward -- from Oklahoma City to the AP's bureau in Kansas City, Mo., and later to San Francisco, where she still maintains an active life even in retirement. We don't correspond frequently, but there are occasional phone calls and an exchange of letters now and then, so we stay in touch.

My mail the other day included an envelope containing a fold-over card with the photo of a tiny baby girl on the cover with this caption: "1920 Hackberry Flat, Oklahoma." Inside is a more recent photo of a sailing Jane Schneider Morrison, made a few years ago by her late husband, Jack Morrison. It was an announcement of a birthday luncheon to be held April 8 at a restaurant off the Embarcadero in San Francisco, celebrating Jane's 80th birthday. I can't tell you how pleased I am to be invited, or how sad I am that I can't join in the festivities. Jane will understand, though. I'm going to send her my regards along with those of everyone else in this part of Oklahoma who still remembers, fondly, Jane of The Journal. Happy birthday!