The Passing of Giants. The Authors Collection
July 13, 2014
OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS, I have written about two literary giant we have lost—first, Spanish literary giant, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, called Gabo, followed by Maya Angelou, an American icon.
There is an old saying that bad news comes in threes.
It is with a saddened heart that today I write about another literary giant passing: Jory Sherman left this life June 28, 2014.
Jory began writing as a kind of therapy after his stint in the armed forces during the Korean conflict. He went on to publish more than 400 books with all the major publishing houses. His first publication was a book of poetry that went through multiple printings. But his greatest contributions came in novels. Loren Estleman, nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes and winner of the National Book Award, called Jory “a national treasure.” Prolific author Janet Dailey said, “Jory paints word pictures with remarkable skill.”
Jory accumulated a plethora of awards, the latest coming just a year before his death. His awards included a Spur Award for his novel Medicine Horn. When The Grass Kingdom was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Literature, his reputation as a distinguished novelist began to grow. He received many other awards along the way and in June of 2013, Jory received the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Contributions to Western Literature, the highest award given by Western Writers of America.
Some think Jory only wrote westerns, but that hardly tells the story. Besides the poetry books, Jory wrote mysteries, suspense books, supernatural tales, literary novels, romance novels, and a few books to help writers. He was once featured on the center spread of Romantic Times, and was a special guest at the Romance Writers of America convention.
I first met Jory just before the turn of the century. He rode up on a motor bike, looking for the person who ran the Northeast Texas Writer’s Organization conferences. We became good friends. Jory and Charlotte had just moved to a place on a lake near Pittsburg, Texas.
Soon, his eyesight began to fade a result of his long battle with diabetes. I remember his leaving our house one day and when he got in the driver’s seat, I asked him how he could see to drive. He showed me his driving glasses. Each lens had what appeared to be a tiny telescope attached to it. I backed up, giving him plenty of room.
Even as his sight deteriorated, Jory pushed forward. He began to paint, taking lessons from a local artist. Several years later, he painted pictures for the covers of two of his books.
About a year ago, he and Charlotte moved back to the Branson area in the Ozarks, one of his favorite spots. Jory’s health was failing and this put them close to their son Mark Sherman. But Jory continued to write daily, finishing several books during the year. Earlene (my wife) and I visited their home there, on Bull Shoals Lake, and I photographed his Wister Award, pictured here.
Just days before he passed away, we visited Jory in a nursing home in Hollister, near Branson. His kidneys were failing, his diabetes was worse, his eyesight almost gone. He could no longer walk.
But he was still Jory. I asked him what he was doing and he said, “I’m writing books in my mind.”
The world has lost another gifted giant of literature.
Please click the book cover image to read more about Jory Sherman and his novels.