The Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Service Award


Peggy V. and W.H. Helmerich III
Tulsa Philanthropists and Civic Leaders

Peggy V. and W.H. Helmerich

Peggy V. and W.H. Helmerich III

The Helmerich family has a long tradition of devotion to education, healthcare, and cultural activities - a devotion that has enhanced the quality of life for others in their home community and throughout the State and Nation. Peggy and Walter Helmerich are lifetime partners with a shared appreciation for humanitarian concerns.

Walter received an MBA from Harvard University and joined the diversified, energy-oriented company, Helmerich & Payne, Inc. of Tulsa, in 1950. Peggy was known as Peggy Dow, an actress in Hollywood, before she and Walter married in 1951. Together, with their five sons, Peggy and Walter have demonstrated a strong commitment to family and exemplified the true meaning of community spirit. As Walter advanced to President of Helmerich & Payne in 1960, Chairman and CEO in 1987, and Chairman of the Board in 1989, their leadership in charitable activities also escalated, including the creation of The Helmerich Foundation in 1965. They established the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, which annually recognizes nationally known authors and brings distinguished speakers to the State.

While Walter's other business affiliations include serving as Director of Atwood Oceanics, Inc., Director Emeritus of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, and association with Bank One, Oklahoma, NA; Caterpillar Inc.; Whitman Corporation; and combustion Engineering, Inc., he is also actively involved in numerous civic organizations. He serves as trustee of the Philbrook Museum of Art, the Salvation Army, the Hillcrest Medical Center, and the Retina Research Foundation and Chairman of the Tulsa Park and Recreation Board. He was a leader in the campaign to renovate Oklahoma State University's historic Gallagher-Iba Arena, and has demonstrated a strong commitment to quality programs in academics and athletics.

Peggy is known as a guiding star for many community organizations such as the Junior League of Tulsa, Tulsa Garden Center, Gilcrease Museum, Philbrook Museum of Art, Oklahoma State Arts Council, Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, Goodwill Industries, OSU Centennial Commission, and the Oklahoma Film Advisory Commission. She has received the Tulsa Press Club's Headliner Award, the Medici Award presented by the Tulsa Ballet Theater, and the Junior League's Outstanding volunteer Award. She has been recognized by the National Society of Fund Raising Executives as the Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year; the American Library Association has honored her with its Trustee Citation; and the Oklahoma Library Association has given her the Citizen's Recognition Award. She has made a significant impact on the Tulsa City-County Library system through her 25 years of service on their Commission, and is now the only Trustee Emeritus.

Peggy has been actively involved in many organizations throughout Oklahoma that support community libraries and has participated for many years in the Summer Reading Program for children. She has been a member of the Friends of Oklahoma State University's Edmon Low Library since 1991, serving on its Executive Committee and as co-chair of the Library's participation in the University's "Bringing Dreams to Life" campaign.

Through their many accomplishments and lifelong dedication to society, Peggy and Walter Helmerich have brought great honor and distinction to themselves, their family, their community, and their State and Nation.

Year of Award: 2001