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Oklahoma Business Leaders

Hear and learn from the oral histories of Oklahoma's most influential business leaders, executives and entrepreneurs on how they built their success.

Learn From These Influential Oklahomans

Bill Lobeck

Bill Lobeck

Businessman, Daily Rental Car Industry

William E. Lobeck Jr. began his career in the 1960s at Norfolk Pontiac and Chevrolet dealerships, Norfolk, Virginia, cultivating daily rental car companies as his largest customers. He created the …

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Blue Cross Blue Shield

Blue Cross Blue Shield

Insurance Company

The Oklahoma plan for Group Hospital Services of Oklahoma opened its doors in the Tulsa Loan building at 4th and Main, March 15, 1940. The plan would soon adopt the …

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Bob Anthony

Bob Anthony

Anthony's Department Store

Charles Ross Anthony born in 1885 was an orphan of Tennessee farmers. C.R. Anthony learned the retail trade while working for J. C. Penney. In 1918 Mr. Anthony partnered with …

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Burt B. Holmes

Burt B. Holmes

Businessman, QuikTrip

Equipped with a degree from The University of Tulsa and the experience of working with his father, Dan P. Holmes, in his insurance business, Holmes and Chester Cadieux co-founded QuikTrip …

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Carl Willis

Carl Willis

Allied Stamp Corporation

S&H Green Stamps were trading stamps popular in the United States from the 1930s until the late 1980s. They were distributed as part of a rewards program operated by the …

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Chester Cadieux

Chester Cadieux

Founder of QuikTrip

Chester Cadieux was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After graduating from Tulsa’s Central High School, Chester earned a degree in Business Administration from the University of Oklahoma and then …

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Clifton Taulbert

Clifton Taulbert

Businessman & Author

Clifton Taulbert was born in 1945 in Glen Allan, Mississippi, a small town in the Mississippi Delta. He graduated valedictorian from O’Bannon High School in Greenville, Mississippi, in 1963. He …

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David Green

David Green

Founder, Hobby Lobby

In 1972, David Green founded a small retail store to sell the picture frames he was manufacturing. With just a $600.00 loan and his retail experience, the store began to …

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Dick Carson

Dick Carson

Carson Attractions

Carson Attractions in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was the foremost ticket facility for events at the Maxwell Convention Center (now Cox Business Center) for over forty years. The story begins with the …

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Don E. Pray

Don E. Pray

Attorney

Donald E. Pray reached many goals by graduating from Tulsa’s Central High School in 1950, graduating from the University of Tulsa in 1955 with a degree in petroleum engineering, and …

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Ed Malzahn

Ed Malzahn

Founder, Ditch Witch

It all started in a blacksmith shop in Perry, Oklahoma. It was in the late ’40s when Ed Malzahn observed workmen digging trenches by hand. He noticed equipment used for …

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Ed Taylor

Ed Taylor

Communications Pioneer

Ed Taylor grew up in Camden, N.J., the son of an RCA executive making the Taylor Family the first on the block to have television. After Taylor graduated from high …

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Frank Robson

Frank Robson

Property Investor

As a champion for Public Education, Frank C. Robson founded the Claremore Public Schools Foundation and has encouraged the formation and growth of school foundations statewide. A longtime supporter of …

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Gene Rainbolt

Gene Rainbolt

Banker & Philanthropist

H.E. (Gene) Rainbolt acquired his first bank, the First American Bank in Purcell in 1962. In 1965 he acquired Federal National Bank in Shawnee, and two years later he and …

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Harry A. Clarke Jr.

Harry A. Clarke Jr.

Clarke’s Good Clothes

Clarke’s Good Clothes, founded in 1929 in Tulsa by Harry Clarke Sr., developed into a clothing store for men, women and children. From its downtown location, the store expanded to Utica …

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Henry R. Kravis

Henry R. Kravis

Investor & Philanthropist

Tulsa native Henry R. Kravis co-founded the global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and is the Co-Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer. The firm pioneered the development of the management buyout. …

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Henry Zarrow

Henry Zarrow

Businessman & Philanthropist

Henry Zarrow, Mr. Henry, as he is affectionately known to most, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin February 12, 1916. He was the first son of Sam and Rose Zarrow, immigrant …

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Herman Meinders

Herman Meinders

American Floral Services

Originally from Pipestone, Minnesota, Herman Meinders came to Oklahoma to attend Oklahoma City University. In 1970, he Founded American Floral Services, Inc. an international flowers-by-wire service based in Oklahoma City. …

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James L. Gallogly

James L. Gallogly

President of OU

Jim Gallogly is the fourteenth president of the University of Oklahoma. He is a 1977 alumnus of the OU College of Law, and is the first CEO from a Fortune …

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Jenny Brouse

Jenny Brouse

Business Owner / Community Leader

Brouse’s Shoe Store in Utica Square was a prominent business for many years in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jenny Brouse was partner, buyer, and secretary/treasurer for the family-owned business from 1975 until …

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Jim Economou

Jim Economou

The Coney Island Story

Ask anyone in the Coney business what’s the most important part of making a great coney, and the answer is always the same—it’s the chili. In the 1920’s, when the …

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Joe Moore

Joe Moore

Moore Funeral Homes

Joe Moore was born in Claremore, Oklahoma on July 31, 1919, the youngest of nine children. His father was J. Herbert Moore and his mother was Cora (Musgrove) Moore who …

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John F. Hausam

John F. Hausam

John Hausam Realtors

Then he stepped off the path. In his oral history, John F. Hausam talks about his military service in the Korean conflict and how he unwittingly avoided death by stepping …

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John T. Nickel

John T. Nickel

Owner, Greenleaf Nursery

The John T. Nickel story is that of a work ethic which led to success far beyond anything he could have ever imagined. While in his early twenties, along with …

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John Williams

John Williams

Williams Companies

John H. Williams comes from a family with a long entrepreneurial history–a tradition he continued when he founded the Williams Companies in 1949 with his brother Charles and cousin David, …

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Joseph H. Williams

Joseph H. Williams

Businessman, Nature Conservationist

While Joe Williams is primarily known in Tulsa as an oilman, his friends and family speak of him as a bird hunter and conservationist, and then an astute businessman and …

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King Kirchner

King Kirchner

Oilman, Unit Corporation

King Kirchner was co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Tulsa-based Unit Corporation from 1963-2001. Following retirement, he continued to serve as a director of Unit Corporation, the fourth largest …

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L. Francis Rooney III

L. Francis Rooney III

Manhattan Construction and U.S. Ambassador

L. Francis Rooney III is the fourth generation of his family to own Manhattan Construction Company.  Manhattan was founded by Laurence H. Rooney in Chandler, Oklahoma Territory, in 1896. As …

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Lilah Marshall

Lilah Marshall

Pioneer Behind Bama Pies

Cornelia’s Ala “Bama” Marshall’s homemade pies were so mouthwatering and so well known. that people lined up on the sidewalk outside Woolworths soda fountain door, waiting for a single slice …

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Maxine Kelamis

Maxine Kelamis

Savoy Restaurant

Nick Kelamis is where the story of the Savoy Restaurant begins. In 1910, he left Greece with a dream to build a better life for his family in America. A …

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Paul Thornbrugh

Paul Thornbrugh

Politician and Businessman

Paul Thornbrugh was a patriot, public servant, politician, and businessman. Paul served during World War II as a sailor in the U.S. Coast Guard. As a public servant he served …

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Randy Foutch

Randy Foutch

Entrepreneurial Oilman

Randy A. Foutch fits the bill as an entrepreneurial oilman. Born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Geology at the University of Texas …

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Ray Ackerman

Ray Ackerman

Philanthropist

Since he arrived in Oklahoma City from Pennsylvania in 1947, Ray Ackerman has given of his time and talent to one project after another and one organization after another. His …

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Red Stevenson

Red Stevenson

Businessman and Pilot

Red Stevenson was born in southern Oklahoma where he spent his first few years in an orphanage during the great depression. Eventually he was adopted and moved to Bixby, Oklahoma. …

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Robert E. Thomas

Robert E. Thomas

Businessman

Mapco was founded by Robert E. Thomas, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance in the 1930s with a degree in accounting and corporate finance. Thomas …

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Robin Siegfried

Robin Siegfried

Businessman, NORDAM

NORDAM is a Tulsa-based aerospace company that employs 2,500 “stakeholders” worldwide. But, before there was a NORDAM, there was a sixteen-year-old boy who left Pennsylvania in 1911 because his parents …

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Roger Wheeler

Roger Wheeler

Businessman

Businessman, Roger Wheeler, the former chairman of Telex Corp. and former owner of World Jai Alai was murdered May 27, 1981, at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, while …

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Sid Patterson

Sid Patterson

Up With Trees

In the 1950s, Sid Patterson worked for Patterson Steel, the family business, as a civil engineer. The company is responsible for constructing many of Tulsa’s long stand buildings. Sid was …

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Stan Clark

Stan Clark

Eskimo Joe’s Owner

The fortieth anniversary of Eskimo Joe’s in 2015 recalls the story of two graduates of Oklahoma State University, Stan Clark and Steve File, and their dream of opening a bar …

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Steve Stephenson

Steve Stephenson

Business Owner

Francis W. “Steve” Stephenson was the founder of Steve’s Sundry Books and Magazines in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which he opened in November of 1947 at 12th and Harvard. Steve shared part …

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Tom Clark

Tom Clark

President & CEO, Tulsair

Oklahoma University Regent Tom Clark was appointed by Governor Frank Keating in March 2001 for a seven-year term and was reappointed by Governor Brad Henry in March 2008. Clark graduated …

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Wayne Creasy

Wayne Creasy

Businessman, Insurance

If you want to know the story of the Wayne Creasy Insurance Agency, you must listen to Wayne tell you about selling vacuum sweepers. While waiting to go back to …

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William Ross

William Ross

Businessman

William J. Ross, a lifetime resident of Oklahoma City, attended Classen High School. He received his BBA and LLB from the University of Oklahoma. Upon graduation, he became an Assistant …

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William Vandever

William Vandever

Vandevers Department Store

In the 50’s all things big and small could be found at the store with everything. Vandevers was the go-to department store located at 16 E. 5th Street in Tulsa. …

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William S. Atherton

William S. Atherton

Businessman, Pizza Hut

Listen to the oral history of William S. Atherton, a legendary Oklahoma businessman, prolific Pizza Hut franchisee and Chairman of Atherton Restuarant Systems.

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John Hughes

John Hughes

Rancher and Cattleman

John Hughes, the 16th member of the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame, grew the legendary Hughes cattle ranch from 1800 acres to 12000 over a 30-year career.

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Joe Cappy

Joe Cappy

President of American Motors, CEO of Dollar Thrifty Car Rental

Joe Cappy was the President of the American Motors Corporation and was a part of some of the most dynamic times in the American auto manufacturing industry.

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