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‘Mr. Oilfield’ leaves more than $1 million to OCU

The late oilman Thomas E. Barnett of Oklahoma City has donated more than $1million through his estate to Oklahoma City University’s Meinders School of Business.

The unrestricted gift from the OCU alumnus will allow the business school to move in new and exciting directions, business school Interim Dean Russell Evans said.

“This unrestricted gift is a huge deal,” Evans said. “Our vision is to offer students a distinctly Oklahoma City business experience in the heart of the business district. We’re exploring ways we can integrate the business community into innovative classroom collaborations and onsite experiences that provide substantive job and industry exposure.”

Barnett was born April 28, 1935, and died Nov. 22, 2020, in Oklahoma City. A Shawnee native, he played piano and drums in numerous performances with several jazz groups in St. Louis, Oklahoma City and Decatur, Illinois, including sessions with the legendary saxophone great “Boots” Randolph.

Barnett served in the Marines in the 1960s, returned to Oklahoma and worked at Oilfield Specialty Distributors while attending business school at Oklahoma City University at night. Barnett graduated in 1972 and rose through the ranks to become owner and CEO of the distribution company. He was affectionately known as “Mr. Oilfield” and appreciated for his kindness, honesty and humor.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Carlice Irions Barnett, and is survived by his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and others.

“Because of Thomas Barnett’s donation, our students will graduate feeling a deeper connection to their community,” Evans said, “and they will graduate with a unique set of experiences not only to be professionally successful but to give back and meaningfully serve their community.”

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