Back in January of 1988, I was walking north on Knoblock street in Stillwater, Oklahoma to the Seretean Center for my first class of the spring semester. It was very cold that day and with ice on the ground and a north wind at my back the 30-minute walk from my lowly apartment past Lewis field and across campus seemed like it was taking forever.
This was my first day of class at Oklahoma State University. I followed my then-girlfriend to Payne County to further develop my relationship all the while increasing my student loan debt, as many of us guys do. As I approached Lewis field that Monday morning, I took just a minute to look through the chained gate and to peer onto the football field that I had never seen. I looked around at how bad the stadium seemed to be rusting away and how empty and quiet it was that cold day of the new year. I adjusted my backpack and kept on walking.
I often saw head football coach Pat Jones on his daily jog throughout the campus. He was just part of the woodwork and it was quite obvious he was working on reducing his stress level and to prolong his life. I guess he never thought much about anyone doing anything to fix the football stadium he was asked to win in.
Life has continued on and here we are 30 years later. A couple of weekends ago, I spent Dad’s day with my daughter Alyssa and her Phi Mu sorority friends from OSU. One of the shirts she got for me reads, “The best fathers raise Phi Mu daughters.” The other shirt reads, “PHI MU Dad.”
I very proudly wore that shirt to the football game against McNeese State that September 7, Saturday night at BOONE PICKENS STADIUM. I looked around that evening at my daughter having fun with her friends, all my fellow OSU Phi Mu parents and the other sea of Orange fans that packed that beautiful facility.
On Thursday evening, Boone Pickens’ family released Boone’s final words that are available online if you get a chance to read them. I spent about 20 minutes reading what he had written to everyone as he said goodbye. I thought very carefully about many of the other things he has said during the past 20 years of his philanthropy.
Boone once said he wanted OSU to have a beautiful facility now and wanted to see it now. He said he wanted to have as much input about that stadium as possible and he wanted to see his donation help produce a winning football team that regularly plays for the BIG XII championship.
As I thought about what Boone wrote and all that he has done for OSU, I realized how thankful I am for him and appreciative of him for helping provide such a great college experience for my daughter. These OSU kids take so much pride in the campus, the football stadium and the honor it is to chant Orange Power during the games. Fans really weren’t that passionate 30 years ago.
I reflected upon how much it means to me to be fortunate enough to provide a way for my daughter to get this unique college experience and how valuable it will be to her in the future. I am so thankful that Boone Pickens envisioned what the future could be like and for his generosity to make it happen.
Boone died a few days later. I would like to think that I was in the stadium with him during the last game he ever saw at the stadium that bears his name. I looked up at his suite several times during the game. I started to go say thanks to him since the press box is just a few feet away. I believe at 91-years-old he knew how much people cared about him and appreciated the leadership he provided and the standard he set.
If I have anything to say about it, my money, my children and my grandchildren will go to OSU because of the greatness, generosity and Oklahoma standard that Boone showed us all. My memory of that cold day in January of 1988 will always be there to remind me of where we came from. My memory of that last OSU football game of Boone’s life on September 7 and getting to spend it in HIS stadium with one of my children, will be with me until the day I die.
Boone will be laid to rest in Dallas, Texas. Ironically the Cowboys will play the University of Texas Longhorns later that night in Austin, Texas. I think Boone will be looking down at his football team and his football team will be playing for him.
Thank you, Mr. Pickens, for all you have done for me and my family. You will forever be remembered.
Thanks so much for reading. I will see you next Saturday. Would you like a Progress?