Every year, Oklahoma State University alumnus and benefactor T. Boone Pickens has had an annual address prior to the Cowboy football season.
This season is no different as Pickens, now 91, penned his address on his website http://boonepickens.com. With Pickens saying the finish line is now in sight for him, he wants to reflect on the heights OSU has ascended to over the past decade and how he wants to tie up all loose ends while he can.
"Back in 2007, prior to the University of Georgia game with Oklahoma State in Athens, I sat with the media and gave my perspective on all things OSU football," Pickens wrote. "I’ve carried that tradition forward annually, putting my thoughts in a letter in recent years as health issues have gotten the better of me. It’s a tradition I hope to continue as long as I can.
“'As long as I can …' That’s a sobering notion, more, I suspect, for me than for you. I’m a lifelong geologist, and, as a whole, we’re a pretty optimistic bunch. I love to tell the story – over and over – about the geologist who fell off a 10-story building and, whizzing past the fifth floor, hollered, “I’m not dead yet.” At 91, I’m grateful for every added day, week, month and year.
"However, I’m realistic about being close to the finish line. And I’m working diligently to complete projects as quickly as I can and tie up any loose ends."
Pickens talks about relocating his childhood home from Mesa Vista Ranch in Texas to Karsten Creek recently and how he is moving a lot of memorabilia from his life to the university so posterity can learn his life and use his story for inspiration.
"I have a lot of work left to do and not a lot of time to get it done," Pickens wrote. "That’s not a morbid notion, it’s reality. And accepting reality at my age invariably leads to reflection.
"Last year, at 90 years of age, I vowed to make every Oklahoma State football home game. I made half of them, but watched all of them. That’s likely to be the case again this year and each trip to Stillwater will be all the more meaningful for me. Five years ago, as grand marshal of OSU’s homecoming, I knocked out pushups on the ROTC’s pushup board. Now walking 50 yards to my suite is a challenge. And when I do it, I feel just as triumphant.
"Spoiler alert: When you hit your 90s, two things happen. First, your memory isn’t as good as it once was. Second, the memories you do have you tend to cherish more. One of my greatest memories came 10 years ago, on September 5, 2009, when Oklahoma State University officially dedicated the fully renovated stadium now named in my honor."
In the 10 years since the dedication and that victorious game against Georgia, the Cowboys have ascended to new heights, which Pickens lays in detail on his website, including the amount of benchmark moments not thought possible 20 years ago.
In closing, Pickens mentions his goal for the year while also looking back on the financial gifts he has given over the years, having no regrets on any of his donations.
"My first goal for 2019 is to win a Big 12 football championship … again," Pickens wrote. "Then to make the final four playoffs. Fingers crossed Mike Gundy can make that happen this year. The window is closing for me.
"I’m heavily invested in Oklahoma State. Sometimes I forget what all I’ve given over the years. In the spirit of tying up loose ends, and setting the record straight, I called OSU the other day to get a total giving number. The total now stands at $652 million, a number boosted by a series of unpublicized gifts over the past 10 years. I have a unique approach to giving. While many others of my status endow foundations that spin out millions of dollars over the course of generations, I want to see the good that’s done with my money today, while I’m alive, and not wonder what is done with it long after I’m gone. OSU’s athletic director, Mike Holder, has been a good steward of my funds on the athletic side of the ledger, as has OSU President Burns Hargis been on the academic side.
"Unquestionably, $652 million is a lot, and there are no doubt critics out there who would champion it going for broader, societal issues. I’m satisfied with my giving. I don’t want a bigger suite or a better parking spot. Or yet another honorary degree. I want championships across the board. I hope you understand why, and I hope we get them while I can still savor the victories."