Boone Pickens was born an entrepreneur. As a teenager in Holdenville, Oklahoma, he slowly and methodically expanded his paper route by acquiring adjacent routes one at a time. After earning his degree in geology and working for Phillips Petroleum for only three years, Pickens struck out on his own and began Mesa Petroleum with $2,500, birthing what would become an international powerhouse. BP Capital, his energy-based investment firm, became one of our Nation’s most successful hedge funds.
No matter where life took him, Boone remained loyal and true to his Oklahoma roots. He never stopped investing in his home state and its people. It is through the Oklahoma Hall of Fame that I had the privilege of getting to know and working with this legendary native son.
The organization had been gifted the historic Mid-Continent Life Insurance Building in Midtown Oklahoma City as its new home by the late Edward L. Gaylord. Next came the major undertaking of renovation to allow the expansion of programming and outreach of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Boone immediately saw the promise of the newly acquired facility and never hesitated in making the sizable donation needed to launch the renovation of the historic structure and challenged others to invest as well. He routinely visited the site during its development and construction, watching a dream he had for his fellow Oklahomans come to fruition.
On May 10, 2007 the Oklahoma Hall of Fame officially introduced the Gaylord-Pickens Museum to the State of Oklahoma. Boone arrived early that day and spent time with each exhibit. With a mission of telling Oklahoma’s story through its people, he genuinely appreciated the uniqueness in the delivery and celebration of that message. Since the opening he has spoken to our members and sponsors and has mentored the next generation of Oklahoma leaders through numerous opportunities at the Museum.
I am grateful for his unwavering commitment and dedication to the people of Oklahoma and for his compassion, good humor and resiliency. But most of all, I am grateful for the friendship formed.