The Spirit of Waite Phillips

Welcome back. In his book of epigrams the great Waite Phillips wrote many things one of which was “the only things we keep permanently are those we give away” and Waite gave a lot away. Of course there was land, I’ve written about the Philmont Scout Ranch often. Money, yes, he gave away millions of dollars and even more importantly, by his actions he inspired thousands of others to follow in his footsteps.

This phrase “the only things we keep permanently are those we give away” can apply to small acts of generosity as well as big ones. I learned this two weeks ago when one of G.B. Williams’ heirs brought me a very old photograph of what is now the Rogers State University Building when it was under construction. Some of you may remember that G.B. was one of the leading builders in the area for many years. When the photo was taken only the steel framework of the building had been completed and a large crowd had gathered to watch the building going up. Of course at the time there was no Phillips building or Arvest drive-thru bank. No Weeze’s Café or even paved streets. The photo had been sitting in G.B.’s office for years until his death and then it was stored in a box until it was given to me.

In search of a permanent home for the photo, my first thought was the Bartlesville History Museum although I thought they might already have similar photos in their collection. However when I contacted them they were very excited so I called G.B.’s daughter about the donation and she was all for it. Two days after dropping the photo off at the museum, a letter arrived thanking me profusely as this turned out to be the only photo in existence of an important part of Bartlesville’s history. The photo is not on display yet but if you tell the staff you want to see the item that was recently donated by the G.B. Williams family, they will show it to you. Yes, this is just a small example of putting Waite’s beliefs into action and now the photo is available for all to see. You may also have something laying around in your house that does not mean much to you but would be as good as gold to the History Museum, Woolaroc or the Dewey Hotel.

This epigram of Waite’s was not the only one he believed in and his son Chope remembered he carried a type written list of them in his pocket every day of his life. For fifty years he never went anywhere without that list in his pocket and as Chope said, it must have been important to him. Here are just a few words from a man who led a very successful and useful life and whom I admire and look up to:

“The man who never makes mistakes never makes much of anything.” Waite Phillips

“Greediness, in all its various forms, is one of man’s worst enemies and also the source of many others.” Waite Phillips

“A man only learns in two ways-one is by reading and the other is by association with smarter people.” Will Rogers

“We do our best and most constructive thinking when alone for its only in silence that God speaks to us.” Waite Phillips.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road….

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