Waite Phillips and The Spirit of Generosity

Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back. With the recent discovery of archaeological artifacts which were found last week during the remodeling of the Philtower in Tulsa along with the ongoing restoration of several buildings in downtown Bartlesville which are related to the Phillips brothers I thought a little history might be in order this week.

The year was 1932 and Waite Phillips had put together a 300,000 acre ranch just outside of the rough and tumble town of Cimarron, New Mexico.  Edward Buehler Delk, a soon to be famous Kansas City architect, had already started the process of designing and building what would become known as Villa Philamonte for Waite and when he was done Will Rogers, Wiley Post and many other celebrities of the era became regular guests.

The magical place that Waite and his family called home in New Mexico was also a working ranch and ran 3,000 head of registered Hereford cows and 9,000 head of Corredale sheep. The horses he raised were known throughout the west and there was a farming operation providing feed that made the ranch self sufficient. Waite’s original brand had been WP but after he found out that another ranch was already using that brand, he came up with the idea of cutting the “W” in half to make a “UU” placing a bar beneath it and so the UU  brand was created.

Waite believed that the place he had created and called Philmont was meant to be shared, not only with family and friends but also with kids. He had watched his son Chope and his friends grow up on the ranch, gaining the character and values he  felt were essential for young people and so in 1938  he deeded 35, 857 acres on the northern part of the ranch to the Boy Scouts of America. That same year he and his wife also donated their Tulsa home, Philbrook, to the Southwest Art Association to become a museum.

Three years later, after watching several groups of kids go through the scouting program at the ranch and being impressed with what he saw, Waite decided to donate the ranch headquarters, Villa Philamonte and an additional 91,538 acres on the mountainous western side of the property  to the Boy Scouts. He also gave them the Philtower, his 23 story office building in downtown Tulsa, as an endowment for the ranch.

This generosity is in keeping with one of Waite’s favorite epigrams: “The only things we keep permanently are those we give away.”

Today although the Philtower has changed ownership, the scouts still own Philmont and over 100,000 acres of land around it. Waite’s beloved UU Bar Ranch  butts up to Philmont and had been part of the original historic Lucien Maxwell land grant in New Mexico. The UU Bar was saved from development in 1996 by Oklahoman Bob Funk who to this day allows the boy scouts to have 24-7 access to the high point on the ranch that Waite Phillips wanted them to experience just as his son Chope and he had.

I’ll leave you with another of Waite’s favorite sayings: “ Real philanthropy consists of helping others outside our own family circle when no thanks is expected or required.” And with that I’ll see ya down the road….







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