Carol Maxine Boone Gwin, who successfully spearheaded a 15-year crusade to raise private funds to put a dome on Oklahoma's state Capitol, died New Year's Day in her Oklahoma City apartment. She was 98.
“Oklahomans should be thankful for the commitment and tireless hard work of Carol Gwin,” said Gov. Mary Fallin. “Her grassroots effort helped Oklahomans realize the importance and significance of adding a dome to complete our beautiful Capitol building. Her passion ultimately led more than 10 years later to the project that built the dome on the Capitol. My prayers and deepest sympathies go out to her family and friends during this time of loss.”
Original plans for Oklahoma's Capitol building called for it to be crowned with a dome, but it opened without one in 1917 after the construction project ran into funding problems.
For 85 years, it was the only state Capitol designed for a dome that didn't have one.
Gwin devoted a good portion of 15 years of her life to making sure that was corrected.
“Carol was absolutely the most gracious lady you could ever know,” said Capitol Preservation Commissioner Paul Meyer, who served as the Capitol architect for 25 years. “She was also the most tenacious woman I have ever known and she was always a gracious lady as she did it.”
Meyer said he was the state Capitol architect in the mid-1980s when Gwin first approached him about raising funds to put a dome on the building.
“She had just come back from a trip to Russia and she was real impressed with all their domes,” he said.
Oklahoma was experiencing an economic recession and Gwin also believed that putting a dome on the Capitol was a project that could boost the spirit and pride of Oklahomans, he said.
In 1990, Gwin helped organize a nonprofit group called Capitol DOMERS (Dedicated Oklahomans Marshaling Excellence and Rallying Spirit) that relentlessly raised money for a Capitol dome, even as the fundraising stretched on for years.
Through the tenacity of Gwin and many others, the $21 million dome project eventually was completed and dedicated on Nov. 16, 2002.
The American Institute of Architects awarded her an honorary membership in 1990 for her work on the Capitol dome and plaza project. She received the Governor's Arts Award at the 2002 dedication of the dome and received citations from the governor, lieutenant governor and both houses of the Legislature in November 2011 at a special awards ceremony hosted by Friends of the Capitol.
Memorial services are set
A memorial service for Gwin will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at Crown Heights Christian Church. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Hahn Cook/Street & Draper of Oklahoma City.