Portion of Highway 51 Dedicated to Oklahoma State Philanthropist Boone Pickens
KTUL - November 22, 2022 6:26 am
A portion of Highway 51 is dedicated to Oklahoma State philanthropist Boone Pickens. (Courtesy: Oklahoma State University)
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — A portion of State Highway 51 in Stillwater is now named after the late T. Boone Pickens.
The portion of Hwy 51 beginning at the intersection of Country Club Road in Stillwater and extending west to the intersection of Karsten Creek Road in Payne County was officially dedicated to Pickens.
Mike Holder, OSU director of athletics emeritus, was a longtime friend of Pickens, dating back to Holder’s time as OSU’s men’s golf coach when they met at a fundraiser in 1973.
“When I think of Boone, I think of the ultimate friend, the greatest teammate of all time,” Holder said. “You couldn’t have a better leader, you couldn’t have a better promoter. He promoted Oklahoma State wherever he went. He gave generously. He always said there are two types of people: the givers and takers. There is no question what Boone Pickens was.”
T. Boone Pickens
Pickens passed away on Sept. 11, 2019. He has been recognized as one of the nation’s leading philanthropists with a total giving impact of more than $1 billion.
In 2006, Pickens made history with a $165 million commitment to build Boone Pickens Stadium — the single-largest gift ever made to a collegiate athletic program. According to the university, Boone Pickens Stadium sparked the expansion of OSU’s athletic village with state-of-the-art facilities.
“Boone’s contribution to Oklahoma State was over the top and incredible, and he used to get calls all the time. ‘What do you want in return?’ And Boone would say, ‘Well, I’ve already got the best parking spot, what else can they do for me?’ Well, they went and named the highway after him,” said Jay Rosser, Pickens’ vice president of public affairs and chief of staff.
Mary Elizabeth Cordia, Pickens’ granddaughter, said she’s proud of his legacy and happy to see it continue to flourish.
“It’s just nice to see how everything he’s done here is overflowing into other places,” she said. “So not only has it overflowed into different parts of academics and athletics, but it’s even overflowed into the city.”
Pickens’ grandson, Michael Pickens, said he was struck by the thought of what his grandfather’s hometown of Holdenville, Oklahoma, would have thought in the 1940s if they knew young T. Boone Pickens would go on to have his name on a stretch of state highway.
“That made me think about his humble beginnings coming from a blue-collar family and a little itty-bitty town in Oklahoma,” he said. “Who would have thought?”