School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Overby Center remembers life and career of Larry Speakes

Posted on: January 29th, 2014 by alysia
Larry Speakes with former president Ronald Reagan.

Larry Speakes with former president Ronald Reagan.

Larry Speakes (left) with Stan Dearman, editor of the Ole Miss student paper (which was The Mississippian at that time, before it became a daily).

Larry Speakes (left) with Stan Dearman, editor of
the Ole Miss student paper (which was The Mississippian
at that time, before it became a daily).

From his childhood in Merigold, Mississippi, and his college days at Ole Miss, to his role as spokesman for President Ronald Reagan at the White House, Larry Speakes’ life had the trajectory of a Horatio Alger tale.

He rose from a job as a small-town Delta newsman to become press secretary for Sen. James O. Eastland before becoming a player in national politics.

After an assassination attempt in 1981 that wounded President Reagan and left his press secretary, Jim Brady, disabled, Speakes became the voice of the Reagan Administration and had a role in some of the most memorable events of the Reagan years.

Speakes, who died earlier this month, was remembered last month at a program to start the Overby Center’s spring schedule with a panel of guests who knew him or worked with him – including his close friend Ed Meek.  Charles Overby served as moderator. Watch the full program on YouTube.

Rory Reardon and Harriet Riley with Larry Speakes in his White House office during 1982.  Speakes always was willing to meet with Ole Miss journalism students at the White House.

Rory Reardon and Harriet Riley with Larry Speakes in his White House office during 1982. Speakes always was willing to meet with Ole Miss journalism students at the White House.