The 2015 Icons for Oklahoma State University in Tulsa have made a huge impact on the lives of people in Oklahoma and across the nation. Through their generosity and selfless devotion to helping others, these honorees have helped create a brighter future for our state. The 2015 Icons for OSU in Tulsa will be honored at A Stately Affair in Tulsa on May 18. Proceeds from the black-tie event will support student scholarships at OSU-Tulsa and OSU Center for Health Sciences.
Bryan Boyd Close has long been a champion of OSU and the university’s efforts in Tulsa. He was born in Kearney, Neb., during World War II and traveled around the country due to his father’s military service. He moved to his mother’s hometown of Tulsa and fell in love with the vibrant community. He graduated from Tulsa’s Edison High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from OSU. In 1974, his father founded the welding fitting company, CloseBend, Inc., and hired Close to do accounting. He eventually joined the company full time and has remained with the family business for more than 40 years. Close is a well-known community volunteer, currently serving on many local advisory boards, the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees and the OSU College of Human Sciences Partners Association, and is a member of the OSU President’s Fellows. He was also co-chair for the wildly successful 2013 A Stately Affair in Tulsa.
Peggy Helmerich has devoted countless hours to improving health care, education, arts, libraries and other charitable endeavors. She earned degrees from Gulf Park College and Northwestern University before launching a successful career as an actress, co-starring in eight movies for Universal-International. After only three years, Helmerich retired from show business and relocated with her husband, Walter H. Helmerich, III, to his hometown of Tulsa. While raising five sons, Helmerich developed a passion for charity work. She served on the Tulsa City- County Library Commission from 1973-1997, was chair of the organization from 1982-1984 and was a member of the Tulsa Library Trust from 1981-1994, serving as president from 1981-1984. The Peggy V. Helmerich Library in south Tulsa was named in her honor, and the Helmerich Research Center at OSU-Tulsa was named after Peggy and Walt. She continues to volunteer with numerous community organizations, including the Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Symphony, Tulsa Garden Center and Friends of the OSU Library.
The legacy of Bob Jones continues to impact students at the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and D.O.s in Oklahoma nearly 15 years after his passing. As executive director of the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association from 1969-1999, Jones was known as a stabilizing influence, counselor and friend to all osteopathic physicians. Jones played a major role in the establishment of the Oklahoma College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, the nation’s first freestanding state-supported college of osteopathic medicine, and was a driving force that led to the college becoming part of OSU in 1988. During his tenure at OOA, the number of osteopathic physicians in Oklahoma increased from 300 to 1,200, with more than half serving in rural communities. He provided counseling to students and helped found the Oklahoma Educational Foundation for Osteopathic Medicine, which provides scholarships to students of osteopathic medicine. He authored The Difference a D.O. Makes, which is provided to osteopathic medicine students across the country.
A champion of the underserved, Bishop Edward James Slattery has helped thousands of Oklahomans receive food, shelter and health care as the result of his leadership of Catholic Charities of Tulsa. A Chicago native, Slattery was the second of seven children born to William Edward Slattery and Winifred Margaret Brennan. He then attended St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, where he received a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Divinity and also obtained a master’s degree from Loyola University. He was ordained a priest on April 26, 1966 for the Archdiocese of Chicago and served as associate pastor of St. Jude the Apostle Parish from 1966 to 1971. He began his service with the Catholic Church Extension Society in 1971, working as vice president through 1976 and president until 1994. While working at Extension, Slattery was appointed associate pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish and later served as pastor. On Jan. 6, 1994, Pope John Paul II ordained Slattery as the third bishop of the Diocese of Tulsa.