It can be argued that the best way to change the future is through education. And while Bill Blair, a noted philanthropist, dedicated gardener and savvy investor, was passionate about many things, he was perhaps most fervent about supporting education and creating opportunities for those less fortunate than he.
TPF supported Blair and partnered with him to manage his investments as he established multiple scholarship programs in Arkansas and Oklahoma and the Bill G. Blair Chair in Business Administration to benefit the University of Tulsa. Together, Blair and TPF leveraged our investment expertise and low management costs to maximize the benefit of his gifts with solid income and great returns.
World War II and the GI Bill ignited his passion for education and the University of Tulsa. Shortly after returning home from his service in the Army, the 20-year-old applied to the University of Tulsa, as it was near his home and had a “pretty good” football team. Upon his graduation, he took a job with The Ohio Oil Company (now Marathon Oil), where he spent the next 35 years working as a landman and eventually retired at 59 as the area land supervisor.
Blair was the primary caregiver to both his mother and sister before their deaths, but his job required long hours and significant travel and he never took the time to start a family of his own. In absence of this family, Blair maintained a close relationship with the University of Tulsa, to which he remained grateful for all of the advantages the university afforded him over the years.
After his retirement, Blair initially donated to the university occasionally, and only when solicited. This pattern changed after a fateful meeting with Jan Zink, who was then an administrator of the university he loved.
They discussed the benefits of charitable annuities, including the guaranteed monthly income and direct benefits to the university. At this time, Blair began his partnership with Texas Presbyterian Foundation. Over the last 14 years of his life, he opened 23 gift annuities with TPF with an initial value of $2.4 million to benefit the University of Tulsa. And even though they produced an annual income of 7 percent to 9 percent of their value, Blair was able to leave the university a final gift of approximately $2.3 million.
While Bill G. Blair will be remembered by some for his wry sense of humor, dedication to horticulture (besides being an active member of the Garden Club, he was the President of the Tulsa Dahlia Society for five years and the Treasurer of the Tulsa Iris Society for six years), and investing acumen, his legacy will continue through the generations of students to whom he has given perhaps the greatest gift — education.