Leaving their legacy
Tulsa Historical Society & Museum inducts its newest members to the Tulsa Hall of Fame.
The list includes a trailblazing educator, an attorney, a philanthropist, a former university president and an emeritus minister. These five people come from diverse backgrounds, career paths and community affiliations. However, a common thread unites them — their love and dedication to the city of Tulsa.
On Oct. 5, these five individuals will be inducted into the Tulsa Hall of Fame. Presented by the Tulsa Historical Society & Museum, the event recognizes a small number of outstanding Tulsans of the past and present.
“The induction ceremony is a once-in-a-lifetime event for the inductees,” says Maggie Jewell, the historical society’s development director. “It’s also an opportunity for us to recognize their leadership that has had such a profound impact on Tulsa.”
Serving as the historical society’s largest fundraiser, the Hall of Fame has honored 166 individuals since its inception 29 years ago.
Each year, an anonymous committee meets to select the recipients in early spring then extends personal invitations to those selected. The committee changes every year.
The 2015 honorees were announced at a reception earlier this spring. The honorees include: the late Dorothy DeWitty, Frederic Dorwart, Mary Ann Hille, Dr. Gary Trennepohl and the Rev. Dr. John Wolf.
Dorothy DeWitty had a remarkable 30-year career with Tulsa Public Schools and was the first black female elementary school principal in Tulsa. Not only was she a trailblazing educator, she also had a passion for Tulsa and was active in local politics. She was elected to the original Tulsa City Council in 1990 and was the first black female to serve on the nine-member body. In addition to her numerous academic and civic accomplishments, DeWitty also authored a book, “Tale of Two Cities,” about race relations in Tulsa.
Delbert DeWitty, the eldest of her three sons, is thrilled his late mother is receiving this honor.
“Words cannot express how proud I am to have had her as my mother,” he says. “She has been a role model for so many and helped pave the way for women in leadership roles.”
Three of Dorothy DeWitty’s grandchildren will attend the ceremony and accept the award on her behalf.
Frederic Dorwart may not be a household name, but his work is widely known by Tulsans and will be for generations to come. The George Kaiser Family Foundation, Tulsa Community Foundation and ONEOK Field are just a few of the many transformational organizations and projects with which he has been heavily involved.
Born in Muskogee, Dorwart earned a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1959. He then received his law degree cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1966. Dorwart returned to Oklahoma, where he began practicing law. In 1994, he founded his current firm, Frederic Dorwart, Lawyers.
He was instrumental in establishing both the GKFF and the TCF, the largest foundation of its kind in the country.
“This honor means absolutely everything to me,” Dorwart says. “I love Tulsa and am a huge booster for our city.”
Mary Ann Hille
Mary Ann Hille’s introduction to charity work was a colorful one. As a member of her church’s mission committee, she had to interview Neighbor for Neighbor’s executive director at that time, Dan Allen.
“Let me just say, if anyone knows of Dan, then you know I got an earful,” Hille laughs. “He chain smoked, cussed a blue streak and referred constantly to the poster behind him, which read, ‘Give a Damn!’ Who could resist?”
Hille volunteered in the Neighbor for Neighbor medical clinic for about 10 years. In 1997, her volunteer work led her (along with her late husband Jo Bob) to establish the Hille Foundation. The foundation helps meet the needs of the underserved in the greater Tulsa area. Over the years she has served on numerous boards and community services agencies, and she has never forgotten the lesson she learned during her time at Neighbor for Neighbor.
“‘Treat everyone who comes through our door with the utmost dignity,’” Hille says. “That, I was told, is how to manage a charity. It has been the most valuable lesson I have ever learned.”
Dr. Gary Trennepohl
Mention Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, and most people immediately think of Dr. Gary Trennepohl. As OSU-Tulsa’s first president, Trennepohl is largely credited with establishing the university as a legitimate higher education institution for the city.
During his early academic career, he taught classes at the undergraduate, master’s and doctorate levels. He also co-authored two college-level finance textbooks and wrote more than 30 articles for professional journals. After teaching and administrative appointments at four major universities, Trennepohl came to Tulsa from OSU-Stillwater in 1999.
“This was a challenging time politically,” Trennepohl says, “because the State legislation creating OSU-Tulsa provided a three year window to dismantle the four-school (University Center at Tulsa) consortium and identify the campus as OSU-Tulsa. But we persevered, and I am proud of the outstanding university that OSU-Tulsa has become.”
Trennepohl retired in 2014 after a 38-year academic career.
“Everyone wants to feel like they have somehow made a difference,” he says. “To me, this recognition is validation that I have helped make Tulsa a better place.”
The Rev. Dr. John B. Wolf
For over five decades, the Rev. Dr. John B. Wolf has been a fixture in the Tulsa religious community. As the minister of All Souls Unitarian Church from 1960-95, Wolf was integral in the fight for equality and justice for all.
After serving in the Navy during World War II, he became a chaplain for the U.S. Naval Reserve and earned his Bachelor of Divinity degree from the Federated Theological Faculty of the University of Chicago in 1952. Later, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School in 1976. He served two pastorates before coming to Tulsa.
“My wife and I weren’t sure what to expect when we were offered the job at All Souls in Tulsa,” Wolf says. “But we quickly found Tulsa is a magnificent place, and we’ve been here ever since.”
Wolf and his congregation were actively involved in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and he credits the Tulsa clergy for the great strides that were made.
“All the major pulpits in Tulsa were screaming,” Wolf says. “Not a one of us was quiet, and it made a difference. Tulsa should be very proud of our efforts (as a city) during the civil rights movement.”
Wolf also was an inaugural member of the Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, a group of clergy that represents all religions and ministries.
“I’m the last one alive of that original gang,” Wolf says. “I feel like I’m accepting this award on behalf of all the clergy who helped pave the way for religious tolerance and understanding.”
Oct. 5 — 29th annual Tulsa Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony
5:30 p.m., reception; 6:30 p.m., dinner; 8 p.m., program. Southern Hills Country Club, 2636 E. 61st St. $250, tickets; sponsorships available. Benefits Tulsa Historical Society & Museum. For ticket information and patron opportunities, contact Maggie Jewell at email@example.com
or visit www.tulsahistory.org
Photos courtesy Tulsa Historical Society