Lives well lived
Each year, TulsaPeople remembers some of its most distinctive citizens, special people who gave of themselves to make Tulsa a better place. Here are a few of these remarkable individuals as described by their colleagues, friends and family.
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Lilah Belle Marshall
Former chairwoman of The Bama Companies; March 22, 1916-Oct. 24, 2012
Pie making brought together Lilah Marshall and her husband, Paul, who met at his sister’s pie plant in Oklahoma City. They opened Bama’s Tulsa location in 1937 and turned it into one of the world’s most successful baking companies. After Paul’s death in 1994, Lilah and daughter Paula continued the business together.
“She was the ultimate supermom. She always made sure we had clean clothes, took care of our health and (made sure we) had the best educations she and my dad could afford. In addition, she insisted that my brothers and I had manners, and that we treated each person we met with respect and dignity; then she went to work … Today, The Bama Companies, Beijing Bama and Bama Europa stand as some of Lilah Marshall’s greatest legacies. Her companies are now, and will forever be, successful, global and private, (providing) jobs for thousands of people all over the world.”
— Daughter Paula Marshall, CEO of The Bama Companies
Philanthropist and community volunteer; June 15, 1941-July 20, 2012
After her mastectomy in the 1970s Jean McGill became a lifelong advocate for cancer prevention. She began as a local American Cancer Society volunteer. Over the next decades, she spoke internationally about cancer prevention and became a national ACS board member and treasurer. She received its lifetime achievement award in 2008. A 2012 Tulsa Historical Society Hall of Fame inductee, she was a member of the Tulsa Community Foundation board, and had chaired the Hillcrest HealthCare System and Morningside Foundation boards.
“Jean loved people, and people loved Jean. Always happy and confident, Jean made people feel good about themselves. Jean also deeply loved this community and passionately sought a cure for cancer. The executive boards of Tulsa Community Foundation and American Cancer Society benefited from her leadership and drive. Jean was not known by all, but all will be affected by her good works and genuine happiness.”
— Phil Lakin Jr., CEO, Tulsa Community Foundation
Former street commissioner, civic leader and Up With Trees founder; Jan. 1, 1921-April 27, 2012
Sid Patterson’s name is synonymous with the city. At 28, he became Tulsa’s youngest street commissioner. He chaired the Mayor’s Committee to develop the Civic Center, worked to improve Tulsa’s expressway system, stormwater management and building codes, and to develop the River Parks and the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. During his second term as street commissioner in 1976, he led the founding of Up With Trees.
“He was an incomparable gentleman in the truest sense of the word. Without ever being pushy, he convinced Tulsans from all walks of life — from high school students to bank presidents — to donate money or pick up a shovel to help make Tulsa a more beautiful and healthier place by planting trees. He left an incredible legacy in Tulsa — not just the tens of thousands of trees he is responsible for, but the thousands of people who love and support trees because of him. I have never known someone who was so universally respected and well liked.”
— Anna America, executive director, Up With Trees