Honoring the Life and Work of Jerry Dickman

OpEd by Marnie Taylor, President and CEO

Oklahoma lost a true philanthropic titan this week. I was so saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend and champion of the Oklahoma nonprofit sector, J. Jerry Dickman. Jerry was a long-time trustee of the Chapman Foundations based in Tulsa and a true believer in the power of nonprofits.

I will certainly miss his warm smile, his wisdom and his support of charity throughout the state. Three words really define Jerry and his leadership in Oklahoma: excellence, transformation and generosity.

He believed that nonprofits should be excellent. More than 12 years ago, Jerry brought an idea to the table that would honor that excellence in Oklahoma. Using a concept from the state of Colorado, Jerry approached the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and helped create the Oklahoma Nonprofit Excellence (ONE) Awards. Each year, those awards honored the work of two dozen nonprofits from every corner of the state. He valued innovation and impact, and along with 11 other men and women, led a commission to determine the best of the best in Oklahoma.

While Jerry stepped down as the ONE Awards Commission Chair a few years ago, he always remained an active leader.

Jerry also transformed. Not only did he help transform the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, the ONE Awards have given more than $1.7 million in grants to nearly 300 organizations in Oklahoma. Through the philanthropy of the Chapman Foundations, the city of Tulsa has been transformed with monumental programmatic, operational and capital gifts. Jerry believed that philanthropy could change lives, and he will leave an indelible mark on Oklahoma.

Jerry was generous. And it wasn’t just through his leadership at the Foundations. Jerry was always generous in time, talent and spirit. Unafraid to step up to leadership, to offer advice, give congratulations. This unique and precious generosity inspired others to give.

I will miss Jerry as a friend and as a mentor. I offer my deepest condolences and prayers for his family – his wife, Jeannie, his children and grandchildren. May his spirit of generosity, transformation and excellence live on in all of us. He leaves Oklahoma an incredible legacy that can inspire us to make Oklahoma a better place.

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