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The John T. Oxley Family

The high risk and pressure of the petroleum industry executive, the love of the game of polo and the horses and men that play it, and the quiet, peaceful, natural surroundings of a nature center which in days past was only a park, is an unlikely trinity at best. Yet, these are three facets of John Thurman Oxley's life, and his generosity has made the Mary K. Oxley not the dream of a few, but a reality for every citizen of Tulsa. It is without question appropriate that the support for this center come from an oilman, as much of what makes Tulsa the unique city it is has been the philanthropic character of the oilmen who made their fortunes here.

A note from Dick Sherry about 
John & Mary Oxley:

"I do know why Mohawk Park was so special to them. John Oxley worked a second job as a young man in the photography studio owned by Mary's father. They started dating and would often rent horses at Mohawk and ride the old Roosevelt Bridle Trail that wound through the park. They later lived on a property at 36th Street North and Memorial (which was just west of the north end of the main runway at Tulsa International), and had several barns and corrals for their many horses. John became quite a polo enthusiast and player, and was responsible for the polo fields within Mohawk Park being established. My father had known John Oxley for many years, and was the main contact person to talk with them about the proposed nature center. In September of 1976, my father and I met with the Oxleys and talked about a lot of different subjects including what a nature center could mean to Tulsa. At one point, John asked "What can you do with $300,000?" I nearly fell out of my chair! I told him we could do everything called for in the master plan except the building. He said that he and Mary wanted to make that contribution, and that was the springboard that really launched the nature center."

Mr. Oxley was a native Oklahoman born in Bromide, Oklahoma in 1909. He married Mary K. Yetter in 1935 and they had two sons and a daughter. He attended East Central College, Tulsa Business College, and The University of Tulsa Law School. His business activities were varied within the petroleum industry and included jobs with Amerada Petroleum Corporation and Warren Petroleum Corporation. He started Texas Natural Gasoline Corporation and had a part interest in Oxley Petroleum Company. He was Chairman of the Board of Arkansas Valley Industries and Director of Apco Oil Corp. 

The Oxley's also owned Hereford Cattle ranches in Pawhuska, Oklahoma and Colorado. 

His interest in the game of polo was reflected by his own abilities to play the game. He was the playing captain of eight National Winning 12-Goal teams, more than anyone else. He Captained the 1970 Boca Raton team which defeated Prince Philip's team for England's Gold Cup. It was the first time a United States team had ever won that title. 

Thus, Mary K. Oxley Nature Center was launched by a man of varied interests and abilities, and more importantly an obvious desire to leave a legacy not built by man, but rather preserved by his recognition of the world he shared with nature.