Growing up in Holdenville, T. Boone Pickens would sit on a stool in his grandmother's kitchen and listen to her advice.
“Grandmother lived next door,” Pickens said of Nellie Molonson. “She said, ‘Don't ever forget where you came from.'”
Pickens never did, as evidenced by the hundreds of millions of dollars he's donated not just to Oklahoma State University, but throughout the state. And Thursday, his home state honored him with the unveiling of a portrait to be hung at the Oklahoma state Capitol.
“Big day for a boy from Holdenville,” said Pickens, the Texas oil baron. “Wish that Grandmother was here. Wish Mother and Dad (Thomas and Grace Pickens) were here. My aunt (Ethel Reed) who was my schoolteacher in Holdenville. That would be a real perfect day. But it is a perfect day anyway. Great day.”
Pickens was feted by Sen. James Halligan, R-Stillwater; Gov. Mary Fallin; Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb; OSU president Burns Hargis; and former state Sen. Charles Ford, who in 1998 initiated the Capitol art program. Former OSU President Halligan was one of the sponsors of Pickens' portrait.
“Today's not just an OSU day, it's a state of Oklahoma day,” Lamb said. “You've done so much for OSU, for Hughes County, for Holdenville, for the great state of Oklahoma.”
Fallin, a fellow OSU graduate, apologized for wearing red but explained it was Valentine's Day. Then she called Pickens “one of Oklahoma's true sweethearts, who has done so much for our state. This is something long past due and well deserved.”
The 49th portrait out of 135 paintings commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund was produced by Norman artist Mike Wimmer, who grew up in Muskogee.
Growing up Oklahoman was a theme of the day.
“I didn't ever forget,” Pickens said. “I know where I'm from. I know I'm from Oklahoma. And I'm proud to say so. Big day for me.”