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Oklahoma State University

Women for OSU name Peggy Helmerich Philanthropist of the Year

Friday, April 12, 2019

Peggy Helmerich (photo courtesy Oklahoma Magazine/Schuman Publishing)

Women for OSU will honor Tulsa civic leader and benefactress Peggy Helmerich as its 2019 Philanthropist of the Year at its annual symposium on April 25 in Gallagher-Iba Arena. Tickets are available for the event, which is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Helmerich has devoted decades of her life to improving health care, education, arts, libraries and other charitable endeavors in Tulsa and at Oklahoma State University and other colleges throughout the state.

She earned degrees from Gulf Park College and Northwestern University before launching a successful career as an actress, co-starring in eight movies for Universal-International. Helmerich retired from show business and relocated with her husband, Walter H. Helmerich III, to his hometown of Tulsa, where he would run the oil and gas drilling company Helmerich & Payne Inc. for more than 25 years.

Together, Peggy and Walt became influential philanthropists with a deep love for their community. While raising five sons, Peggy Helmerich developed a passion for charity work. She served on the Tulsa City-County Library Commission from 1973-97, was chair of the organization from 1982-84 and was a member of the Tulsa Library Trust from 1981-94, serving as president from 1981-84. The Peggy V. Helmerich Library in south Tulsa was named in her honor.

In the mid 90s, Peggy co-chaired Edmon Low Library's fundraising campaign at OSU, resulting in several million dollars in gifts. The Helmerichs were also leaders in the campaign to renovate the historic basketball and wrestling venue Gallagher-Iba Arena. They’ve given to dozens of causes at OSU, and the couple was jointly awarded OSU's Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Service Award in 2001.

In 2005, the couple and their foundation, pledged $9 million for the Helmerich Research Center at OSU-Tulsa.

“Peggy has been a tireless public servant, giving sacrificially of her time, energy and resources to raise academic and public libraries to a new level of excellence in Stillwater, Tulsa and other areas of the state,” said Sheila Johnson, OSU’s dean of libraries and Clerico Family Chair for Library Excellence. “She has been especially exemplary and inspirational in positively shaping the future of our university through philanthropy and engagement with our library, along with many other academic and athletic facilities and programs on multiple OSU campuses.”

Peggy continues to volunteer with numerous community organizations, including the Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Symphony, Tulsa Garden Center and Friends of the OSU Library.

Sponsorship opportunities and individual tickets, which cost $150, benefit the Women for OSU Endowed Scholarship. To purchase tickets or find additional information about sponsorships, visit OSUgiving.com/women.

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