Lives well lived
Each year, TulsaPeople honors Tulsans who passed away in the last year but whose contributions helped better the city. Here, friends, family and colleagues pay tribute to some of these special individuals.
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Broadcast pioneer, legislator, community leader
Dec. 9, 1924-Jan. 6, 2011
Dozens of today’s communications professionals owe a debt to Betty Boyd. As a Tulsa television personality in the 1950s, she helped break ground for women in broadcasting. Four decades later, she continued to champion the needs of women and families as an Oklahoma state legislator — advocating causes ranging from education to breast cancer awareness.
Among her lesser-known roles might have been her work with Tulsa Technology Center (TTC), first as its public information officer and then as a board member, but those, too, fit who Boyd was.
Whatever her role, “Betty Boyd was first an educator in the most accurate sense of the word,” says Kara Gae Neal, TTC superintendent and CEO. “A true educator first loves learning and then loves helping others to learn new, better information to enrich their lives as well as her own. That was Betty in every milestone of an extraordinary life that enriched the lives of all of us and many, many more than we, or Betty, could ever know about.”
Former athletic director, Oral Roberts University
Jan. 20, 1932-April 5, 2011
Bob Brooks served Oral Roberts University as sports information director, athletic director and loyal friend to its founder, says Glenn Smith, ORU’s longtime athletic trainer.
Brooks arrived at ORU as “part of a package deal” in 1969 with basketball coach Ken Trickey and “took athletics to another height,” Smith says. He left in 1983 but returned in 1991. The first time Brooks and Smith met, the latter was applying for a job at ORU.
“Bob was sitting there (in the interview) and introduced me to Oral (Roberts) and Ken Trickey, and Oral hired me on the spot,” Smith says.
He remembers Brooks’ dedication to Oral Roberts. Brooks lived on campus just outside Roberts’ gated home.
“He was at his beck and call, but it was a fun beck and call,” he says, whether it was taking the famous evangelist to play golf, acting as a sounding board or just getting a hamburger.
Brooks “touched a lot of people,” Smith says, because he was dedicated to the university.
Entrepreneur; owner, Garbe’s Lighting and Home Accessories
Feb. 5, 1923-April 9, 2011
“Vern Garbe was a great man who started from nothing and worked his way up,” says Mary Schulze, who runs the store now with her husband, Garbe’s nephew David Schulze. “He was well respected in Tulsa and did a lot for Tulsa.”
While such praise is expected from family, Garbe was indeed remarkable. He developed a specialty light fixture business into a huge home décor store.
“They grew this business and had to diversify when we had oil issues here,” Schulze says. “And he was a great diversifier. He carried everything from lighting fixtures to mirrors to Indian jewelry to neckties and pillows. He was a very savvy businessman.
“He loved people,” she adds, and he knew his customers, inviting them into his office when they walked by. And Garbe accomplished all of this despite losing his sight a number of years after starting the business.
“He could find his way around the 40,000-square-foot building by feeling,” Schulze says. “He knew every inch physically and financially.”
Garbe’s wife, Martha, who handled many behind-the-scenes details of the store, died Nov. 16.