A native of Oklahoma City John E. Kirkpatrick married Eleanor Blake in 1932. Following a distinguished military career, Mr. Kirkpatrick became a successful businessman through investments in oil, gas, and banking. Although the Kirkpatrick family is best known for their success within the business arena, they were also interested in how they could be of service to the community.
In the 1950’s Mr. and Mrs. Kirkpatrick founded the Kirkpatrick Foundation, a private foundation focusing on arts, culture, and civic projects. Mrs. Kirkpatrick’s passion for the arts greatly influenced this contribution of time and resources to the development of Oklahoma’s cultural landscape and the Kirkpatrick Foundation continues to focus on cultural support.
In 1969, Mr. Kirkpatrick and eight fellow businessmen founded the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to encourage broader charitable giving, and provide local donors with easy, reliable, and efficient ways to support nonprofit organizations. They could establish endowments to benefit local charities or establish advised funds, akin to family foundations but using the tax and administrative benefits of the community foundation structure.
In 1989 the Kirkpatrick Family Fund was established through personal gifts by the Kirkpatrick family and the Kirkpatrick Foundation. It has become the largest affiliated fund in the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. With the leadership of Trustee and President, Christian K. Keesee, the grandson of Eleanor and John Kirkpatrick, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund supports organizations and programs that reflect the family’s broad interests and charitable giving in the areas of Social Services, Arts & Humanities, Health, Youth and Family, Community Development, Education, Environment, and Endowment.
Marilyn Myers was appointed executive director of the Kirkpatrick Foundation in 1983. Following the formation of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund in 1989 Mrs. Myers assumed the position of director providing a valuable link between the two philanthropies with her understanding of the family’s charitable values and giving practices. Following her retirement in 2005 Elizabeth Eickman was appointed director of the Fund.
The Kirkpatrick family has and continues to enjoy a position of philanthropic leadership in Oklahoma. In the last 24 years the Kirkpatrick Family Fund has contributed a total of $54,438,825 in grants and endowment support to charitable organizations.
The Kirkpatrick family’s business, civic and philanthropic history is rich and extensive. Learn more when you visit the Kirkpatrick Family Archive.
Picture Top: John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick, 1934
Picture Bottom: John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick