Civic Engagement and The Oil and Gas Industry 

It was great to be on the campus of Oklahoma State University this past Saturday, Oct. 24, to watch Cowboy football. As I was passing by a window in Boone Pickens’ stadium, I saw a building named Sherman E. Smith Training Center.
It reminded me of Sherman, who was a good friend of mine, how he lived a life of civic engagement. He had spent all of his business life in the oil and gas industry. He and I had several conversations on how important life is to give back to society.
Sherman Smith of Tulsa, was 85 years old when he passed away in 2011. He was a quiet, soft spoken leader, who through hard work and determination, built his business called SerDrilco, as well as other businesses he led.
He and Boone Pickens had worked together building wells for many years. Sherman reminded me of where I came from in Western Oklahoma, like my parents, George and Lucy Stansberry, who were always engaged in their community.
Being raised in Western Oklahoma, I saw firsthand the civic engagement of oil and gas industry leaders in my community and region. Civic engagement is best defined as “any individual or group activity addressing issues of public concern. Citizens acting alone or together to protect public values or make a change or difference in the community are types of civic engagement.”
Sherman, who I was first introduced to almost thirty years ago, was a great mentor. One of my books, America Needs America’s Energy, I dedicated to a few of my friends and family, including Sherman E. Smith.
We knew of his involvement in energy advocacy and OSU support. At his memorial service, however, it was announced of his several interests in civic engagements, of which most of us had no idea of the magnitude of his numerous contributions.
Sherman has enriched so many lives, leaving a true legacy. What made Sherman especially joyful, was improving the condition of his fellow man through his contributions. 
There are so many from the oil and gas industry that have truly been engaged civically, too numerous to mention. However, a couple that should be recognized are John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick.
John E. Kirkpatrick was a U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, oilman and philanthropist. John founded the Kirkpatrick Oil Company in 1950, and he and Eleanor became increasingly active in civic endeavors throughout Oklahoma City.
In 1955, the couple established the Kirkpatrick Foundation to serve as a vehicle for their personal philanthropy. Through the Kirkpatrick Foundation, the couple made a number of instrumental gifts that would shape the landscape of the community’s arts and cultural scene.
John and Eleanor established the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. He gave the new community foundation more than just a vision. During those first few years, he contributed generously, encouraged his friends and colleagues to establish funds and offered to match gifts to endowment funds for charities. I had the honor of meeting John and Eleanor in their later life. One occasion was at a book signing in recognition of their life’s accomplishments. 
Sherman E. Smith, John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick and other oil and gas leaders from the past and present have improved our society in so many ways. We are thankful for their contributions through their civic engagement. 
Future generations are depending on us to keep the American dream alive, America needs America’s Energy!
Mark A. Stansberry, chairman of the GTD Group, an Award Winning Author and Energy Advocate.Facebook: National Energy Talk.