The Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Service Award

 

William S. Atherton
Business Executive, Prominent Civic Leader, Humanitarian

Mr. William S. "Bill" Atherton, a partner in Atherton & Murphy Investment Company and Chairman of Atherton Restaurant Systems, Inc. of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has achieved honor and distinction as a successful business executive and as a prominent civic leader an humanitarian. This native son of Ponca City, Oklahoma, is a 1956 graduate of Oklahoma State University's College of Engineering, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Throughout his professional career, as well as in his personal life, his leadership and service have been reflective of the highest qualities of outstanding character and impeccable integrity.

Mr. Atherton's business expertise and entrepreneurial spirit have been the impetus for his record of achievement, leadership, and service to others. Early in his career, he became the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of A&M Food Service, Inc., until 1986 when the company merged into PEPSICO, Inc. At the time of the merger, A&M Food Service, Inc. was the largest Pizza Hut franchise in the United States. He was also the founder of Taco Hut, Inc. and served as Chairman and CEO until its sale in 1983. Through his current activities as a partner of Atherton & Murphy Investment Company and as Chairman of Atherton Restaurant Systems, Inc., Mr. Atherton not only continues to personally enjoy the business challenges, but shares his entrepreneurial knowledge and financial expertise with others. He has been instrumental in bringing prominent chefs to Oklahoma State University for week-long educational experiences for the School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration students and in providing various student internship opportunities.

As an outstanding citizen and one who generously share his time and talents for the benefit of others and future generations, Mr. Atherton serves on the Board of Directors of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Wall Street Deli, Inc., and Chimis, Inc. He is a life member of the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America, the American Quarter Horse Association, and the Cowboy Artists of America Museum. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Gilcrease Museum Association and as a member of the Philbrook Museum. Additionally, he is a lifetime member of the OSU Alumni Association, the OSU President's Club, the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Associates, the College of Human Environmental Sciences Associates, the School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration Advisory Board and has served on the OSU Foundation Board of Governors and Trustees. He served as a member of the OSU Centennial Advisory Commission and is a life member of the Henry G. Bennett Society. He is the recipient of the 1995 College of Human Environmental Sciences Honorary Alumnus Award, has been inducted into the School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration Hall of Fame, and has received an OSU Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus Award.

He and his wife, Ann, co-chair the current fundraising campaign for OSU's College of Human Environmental Sciences. They are the parents of three children, Dirk, Tom, and Jessica. Through his many achievements and dedication to educational, social, and humanitarian concerns, Mr. William S. Atherton has brought great prestige and honor to himself, to his family, and to Oklahoma State University.

Year of Award: 1996