You know his work — now meet George Day

At 83, architect George Day is in the twilight of his career, but his latest projects are some of his most iconic.



George Day

George E. Day Jr. is the man behind some of Tulsa’s most familiar structures, yet most Tulsans have never heard of him.

Talking to the architect and professional engineer, one gets the feeling this is — true to Day’s practice — by design. “I don’t like doing this type of thing,” he says repeatedly, referring to self-promotion.

According to Day, most architects have huge egos. He would know, having spent most of his 58-year career managing them at firms from Enid to Tulsa. Day, who doesn’t even keep a résumé, seems to be the exception.

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You don't know his name, but you've seen his work.

However, when Tulsans attend a luncheon at the downtown DoubleTree Hotel or drive down I-44, past the glass high-rise between South Sheridan Road and South Yale Avenue, they are seeing the fruits of Day’s labor. He and his colleagues designed both buildings and a score of other facilities, including the Union High School football stadium, the first in the state to use artificial turf.

Brookside’s Stonehorse Shopping Center — formerly the Consortium and now part of Center 1 — is one of Day’s favorite design projects. Completed in 1980, the center arguably resurrected the area and guided it to become the retail and dining destination it is today.

75 years of Brookside history

Now 83, Day is still working, though at a slower pace, and still flying largely under the radar. For most of his career, when others might have taken a moment to bask in their success, he was onto the next project. Make that multiple projects — up to 22 at one time.

These days, he takes on just one project at a time. But ask Day how old he feels, and he’ll say 50. The figure has more weight when he pulls out his diagram demonstrating “Day’s Theory”: his idea that, to work at maximum capacity, intellect and education must be supported by a variety of quality experience. “I’ve worked with a lot of intelligent idiots,” he jokes.

On the chart, intellect and education intersect with quality experience around age 50. In other words, Day still considers himself at the top of his game.

Meet another long-time Tulsa architect, Wally Wozencraft.

Heartbreak leads the way to a new career path

Day would not be an architect had he not suffered a college baseball injury that hurt his shoulder and broke his heart. The Oklahoma City native came to Oklahoma A&M — now Oklahoma State University — on a full baseball scholarship and accompanied the Aggies’ to the 1954 College World Series. The team went to the series the following year, too, but by that time an over-pitched arm had forced Day to leave the sport. “I cried for a year,” he says.

Day’s new wife, Shirley, had a job in Oklahoma City, so Day transferred to the University of Oklahoma in Norman. He planned to continue the engineering degree he’d started at A&M, but he also became fascinated with architecture. “I started hanging around the architecture school because I was poor and didn’t have a car,” Day says. “It was love at first sight.”

Influence from Bruce Goff

Contributing to Day’s love affair with design was the then-dean of the OU School of Architecture: the famed architect Bruce Goff, who had himself been a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Day calls Goff “an inspiring instructor … the greatest teacher around.” In a total of seven years, Day earned degrees in both engineering and architecture — a rare and challenging combination that would set him on a path to designing and building (often for the same project) various types of structures all over the state.

Architect Jack Arnold's natural habitat

A stint in the army, and a place at the firm

The Days then moved to Enid, where George completed six months of active duty with the U.S. Army and transferred to the Army National Guard before joining an architecture firm where he soon became a partner. Twelve years later, in 1972, when citizens failed to pass a bond issue for capital improvements that would have improved the city and given his firm work for years to come, Day left Enid for Tulsa.

The Days come to Tulsa

Before joining BSW International, the Tulsa-based design firm specializing in restaurants, retail and lodging, Day spearheaded projects like developing the land that would later house the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. After nine years with BSW, he retired as company president in 1997. Since then, Day’s numerous housing developments have included Saddleback and the Lakes at Indian Springs in Broken Arrow, Crown Pointe at East 96th Street and South Harvard Avenue, and Spunky Creek in Catoosa.

An old-school engineer and architect

In recent years, Day — who still draws designs by hand and hires other architects to transfer his work to the computer — has worked on a few projects for the Tulsa Pipeliners Union 798, such as serving as construction and project manager for its training center at East 51st Street and South Memorial Road. He also was the architect for the renovations to the union’s benefits building.

Day acknowledges a “prideful feeling” when he drives by a structure he designed or built. But how does he measure success? Client satisfaction.

Back at the ranch, George Day built a family — and a personal zoo?

While Day was at the drafting table, making deals and visiting construction sites, Shirley cared for the couple’s three children. Their daughter is now an attorney on the East Coast, and their youngest son owns a wealth management firm in Tulsa. Their eldest son died from cancer in 2004.

Over their 63-year marriage, the Days have raised not only children, but also a menagerie of exotic and native animals on their rural property in Wagoner County. Called Sand Hill Wildlife Foundation, the sanctuary was, in its heyday, home to 200 animals of 15 species.

The couple was loaned a pair of Banteng — wild cattle from the tropical rainforests of southeast Asia — and Shirley says their herd of zebras, which grazed openly in a fenced pasture, astounded the staff of the Tulsa Zoo because they would come into the barn on cold days.

For several years, they bred ostriches and emus, selling their last birds just before the “emu crash” of the mid-’90s. At one point, “We could get $3,500 for a 6-week-old chick,” Shirley says. That was back when optimistic investors thought demand for ostrich and emu meat would eat into the chicken and beef market. When the exotic bird bubble burst, Day says farmers who could once get $20,000 per adult bird couldn’t get $5 for one.

Though he enjoyed the sanctuary days, George says, “I did the animals for Shirley,” a lifelong animal lover who once carried a baby wallaby to a black-tie event. Eventually the animals became too much work and were sold or given to other sanctuaries.

Now the Days “only” have six dogs, two cats and a large group of white-tailed deer that they feed from the yard of their home, which George Day, naturally, designed and built himself.

oyner, George Day and Rusty Patton stand outside Joyner’s home. Patton’s residence, “The Brooksider,” can be seen in the background. Day designed and built both homes.

Trust and risk: The Gallery House and The Brooksider

Day’s most recent project, completed this past fall, is the home of retired federal judge Sam Joyner. Day designed and built the stunning contemporary home, which is a stone’s throw from Center 1. Its crowning feature is an interior ramp from the first to second floors. Reminiscent of the Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City, the ramp surrounds the open floor plan and is a progressive gallery space for Joyner’s award-winning black-and-white photography. Fittingly, Day named the home “Gallery House.”

“Gallery House” was built to showcase owner Sam Joyner’s photography and art.

Directly behind Joyner’s home is its inspiration, a residence known as “The Brooksider.” Its owner, Rusty Patton, has been Day’s attorney since 1976. In the ’90s, Patton had the foresight to buy up several empty lots just east of Stonehorse Shopping Center, which he felt was improving the area.

Around 2012, Patton hired Day to design and build his dream home on one of the lots, which was by then prime real estate. Completed in 2015, it is a modern three-story masterpiece that showcases Day’s precision and intentionality. “I told George what I wanted functionally, and he interpreted it,” Patton says. “There were only a handful of things I questioned, and then we made a decision together.”

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A single piece of 8-inch-thick, unfinished concrete vertically anchors the home from ground to third floor. Wrapping around the pre-cast concrete behemoth, the staircase begins with a thick slice of glossy pecan from a tree on the property that was lost to the 2007 ice storm. Day finished the wood himself. “Floating” glass treads and a glass landing make stair-steppers feel they are walking on air.

Patton walks from room to room, pointing out what he calls “Georgeisms”: consistent details Day carried throughout the entire house, from the window layout to paint colors to the rounded corners of walls.

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“Architecture is worth the risk.”

After Patton’s home was completed, Joyner purchased the lot behind The Brooksider. Impressed by the home, Joyner asked Day to design and build his home, too. “Instead of interviewing George, he interviewed me,” Joyner says of that first meeting with Day. “He explained that we were about to embark on a creative journey together.”

Though the homes share a back fence and have many similar details, “They are totally based on the needs of their owners,” Day explains. “The two houses are like brothers, not twins.”

Day has built hundreds of homes in his career, but his own home, Gallery House and The Brooksider are the only three he also has designed. He says residential design can be extremely challenging for architects because it is so personal to the homeowners. It’s a process that requires great trust.

“Most people retreat for safety,” Day says. “Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of everything built is ugly because it is safe. It’s because people don’t have confidence and the patience to take a risk like Rusty and Sam did.”

That Patton and Joyner would trust Day at his age is not lost on him. But the homeowners say they would do it all again.

On the wall in Joyner’s entryway is a plaque with a George Day quote: “Architecture is worth the risk.”

It’s another theory Day has tested and proven.

 

More images of Gallery House:

The library at Gallery House

The iconic ramps and the library at Gallery House.

Reminiscent of the Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City, the ramp surrounds the open floor plan and is a progressive gallery space for Joyner’s award-winning black-and-white photography. Fittingly, Day named the home “Gallery House.”

Rounded corners and sleek modernism are hallmarks of Day's most recent projects.

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October 2018

The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

FlyingTee is fun for the whole family and on Sundays, kids eat free! *Limit one free meal from the kids’ menu with each purchase of an adult entrée. Not valid on brunches or holidays.

Cost: Free with purchase

Where:
FlyingTee
600 Riverwalk Terrace
Jenks, OK  74037
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Telephone: 918-528-7717
Website »

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Wiener dogs are already funny to look at. Now try watching over 100 of them zig, zag, jump, and generally get confused in a test of speed and intelligence! Ok, we’re being dramatic. The pups...

Cost: $10

Where:
Tulsa Oktoberfest
2100 S. Jackson Ave
Tulsa, OK  74107
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Riverparks Authority
Telephone: 918-596-2008
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
Website »

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Are you staying in town for Fall Break? The Melting Pot is offering an extended weekend-long family special with kid-friendly fondue for the whole family.

Cost: $29.95 per adult | $19.95 per child

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

Willkommen to four days of Oompah (or Bavaria or Oktoberfest) in Oklahoma with nationally-known German bands, authentic European foods, arts and crafters MarktHaus, full carnival and fun...

Cost: $10

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74107
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Sponsor: Linde
Telephone: 918-596-2007
Contact Name: Tonja Carrigg
Website »

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  Prepare to be delighted and entertained at Magical Family Evenings. Treat your family to a kid-friendly meal with mystifying magic from 6-9 p.m. at your tableside. Choose from the regular...

Cost: $29.95 per adult | $19.95 per child

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

The Fear Factory is Tulsa's newest haunted attraction.

Cost: $20

Where:
Tulsa, OK  74115


Sponsor: 75 Productions
Telephone: 918-947-9544
Website »

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Show More...
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The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

Think you can't do something, like sculpt, build a robot, or make a stamp? Think again! Come enjoy our 45-minute workshops held every Monday at noon at the McKeon Center for Creativity....

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: McKeon Center for Creativity
Website »

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

Join the Red Shoe Society benefitting the Tulsa Ronald McDonald House in enjoying some yummy food at Red Lobster at 51st and Yale Avenue and support the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tulsa,...

Cost: Purchase of appetizer, entree, dessert or drink

Where:
Red Lobster 51st and Yale
4525 E 51st St
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Red Shoe Society
Telephone: 580-399-7264
Contact Name: Bayli Hobson
Website »

More information

Our series concludes with roundtable discussions about specific issues in end-of-life care planning and decision-making. Resources, Toolkits for Healthcare and information consultations will be...

Cost: free

Where:
Clarehouse
7617 S. Mingo Rd.
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Sponsor: Clarehouse
Telephone: 918-893-6150
Contact Name: Britni Smith
Website »

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It's time to get spooky! Join us for Halloween fun in the garden. We'll watch Mel Brooks' comedy "Young Frankenstein" while we decorate pumpkins. We'll supply the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Central Library
400 civic center
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa City-County Library
Contact Name: Rebecca H

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

The United Nations Association of Eastern Oklahoma (UNAEO) will host His Excellency Ambassador Kai Sauer, the Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, as guest speaker for the...

Cost: 100

Where:
Greenwood Cultural Center
322 N Greenwood Ave
Tulsa , OK  74120
View map »

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

Tulsa Metro Sound invites you to visit our weekly rehearsals - to be introduced to the women's All American craft of a cappella singing. We meet every Thursday evening at Christ Church Episcopal,...

Cost: 0

Where:
Christ Church Episcopal
10901 S Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace
Website »

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

Bring your little ghouls to our annual Not So Spooky Halloween Bash! This is a costume party (only non-scary costumes please). It gives you a chance to see our gym, play a little, win door...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Little Gym of SE Tulsa
6556 East 91st Street
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »

More information

The Fear Factory is Tulsa's newest haunted attraction.

Cost: $20

Where:
Tulsa, OK  74115


Sponsor: 75 Productions
Telephone: 918-947-9544
Website »

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

Its painting party time! Grab your friends and favorite bottle of wine and join us in painting this lovely painting of two kitties gazing at the moon

Cost: 40

Where:
DECOPOLIS
502 S. Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: DECOPOLIS
Telephone: 918-382-7388
Contact Name: Kathleen
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Arabian Horse Association is headed back to Tulsa, Okla. for the 2018 U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show from October 19-27. Join us for exciting new events,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Expo Square
4145 East 21st Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-696-4500
Contact Name: Kelsey Bergland
Website »

More information

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

Come celebrate the arrival of fall!  With hayrides, games, trunk or treating, train ides, emergency vehicles, a petting zoo, and more,  Asbury is bringing in the Autumn season!  This...

Cost: Free, except food items for purchase from Food Trucks

Where:
Asbury UMC
6767 S. Mingo Rd
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Sponsor: Asbury UMC
Telephone: 918-392-1165
Contact Name: Kim Broadhurst
Website »

More information

BaseCamp Spook-tacular: A camping, music, Halloween festival. Be prepared for a kid-friendly spooky night filled with friendly ghost, tent-o-treating, a mini-spook glow hike, and tons of great live...

Cost: Free Entry, $55 Camping Permit, $70 Early Entry Camping Permit

Where:
Turkey Mountain
6850 S. Elwood Ave
Tulsa, OK  74132
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Riverparks Authority
Telephone: 918-596-2008
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
Website »

More information

Once a year, the Oklahoma Aquarium opens its doors to trick-or-treaters of all ages to enjoy a safe, fun, indoor alternative to traditional Halloween activities. HallowMarine 2018 will feature our...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Drive
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Aquarium
Telephone: 918-528-1507
Contact Name: Liz Medrano
Website »

More information

America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
View map »


Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
Website »

More information

The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
View map »


Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
Website »

More information

The Fear Factory is Tulsa's newest haunted attraction.

Cost: $20

Where:
Tulsa, OK  74115


Sponsor: 75 Productions
Telephone: 918-947-9544
Website »

More information

TU Theatre presents Man of La Mancha on October 18-20 and October 25-27 at 8pm. October 21 at 2pm,

Cost: 10.00

Where:
Kendall Hall
3102 E 4th Place
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »

More information

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TULtalk


QUIZ: Which Oktoberfest Beer Are You?

Take our quiz to discover which of the many seasonal brews on tap at Oktoberfest, Oct. 18-21, best captures your personality!

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Episode 6: Vanessa Hall-Harper, District 1 City Councilor

City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper gives us a debrief of why civilian oversight might be the next step to mend relations between community and police.

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From the editor: Only in downtown

I’ve had so many “only in downtown Tulsa” moments.

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An Insider's Guide To Downtown Tulsa

Experience downtown with these tips and tricks for navigating the districts — where to eat, get a drink, and find entertainment.

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Charitable Events: October 2018

Our social calendar is jam-packed for the month of October! Which of these worthy causes will you support?

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MoreMorgan Phillips

This company bakes biscotti right under our noses

Nonni’s Foods Tulsa facility bakes 24 hours a day, five to seven days per week, turning out 40,000 cookies per hour — nearly 1 million cookies per day.

Breast cancer survivor is a Portrait of Hope

American Cancer Society will honor Denise Johnson at its Tulsa Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk on Oct. 13. 2018.