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When Tom McDaniel joined Kerr- McGee in the early 1980s, he never thought he would one day receive an award named for one of the energy company’s founders. But nearly three decades later, he is the recipient of the prestigious Dean A. McGee Award.
“It’s a capstone honor for people who have been supportive of Downtown for years and decades,” says Dave Lopez, McGee award co-chair and former recipient.
Downtown OKC Inc. also announced the Stanley Draper Award will be presented to James Meade, and the Neal Horton Award will be presented to St. Anthony Hospital. The ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. May 19 at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel.
The McGee award was first presented to Dean A. McGee in 1986. The Draper award, named for the civic leader and managing director of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, first was presented to City Manager James Couch in 2002. This award is given for community excellence by an outstanding staff member or volunteer of a nonprofit group, or a non-elected government official who has made lasting changes Downtown.
The Horton award, named for the Bricktown pioneer, was created in 2002 and that year honored Scott Rodgers and Steve Utley. It is given for a visionary approach to the Downtown renaissance.
St. Anthony is not the first institution to be recognized. In 2009, the Oklahoma Heritage Association received the Horton award, and in 1991, Fred Jones Hall received the McGee award.
McDaniel joined Kerr-McGee at a time when McGee was winding down his role in the company, retiring in 1983. But while McDaniel served as associate general council for litigation under McGee’s successor, Frank McPherson, he still had dealings with and a great respect for the man whose name graced the company letterhead.
“I did get to know him personally, and had some business dealings with him while I was there,” McDaniel says. “I viewed Mr. McGee as a very visionary man. His focus was on promoting Downtown Oklahoma City.”
McDaniel left Kerr-McGee in 2000.
At the time of his departure, he was vice chairman and member of the board. Not long after, he took the post of president at Oklahoma City University, from where he retired last year, yet remains the university’s chancellor. While serving as president, he kept Downtown in his sights and oversaw a boathouse built on the Oklahoma River for the university’s rowing team.
With a bit more free time on his hands, McDaniel became chairman of the MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board. In that role, he works with city officials and citizens on the implementation of eight municipal projects funded by city taxpayers.
“He has done so much that traces back to several different eras of Downtown — from his work at Kerr-McGee to Oklahoma City University’s new boathouse,” Lopez says. “Now he is taking a critical role in the implementation of MAPS 3.”
Meade is being honored for his dedication to the arts by helping combine two museums into the collection that became the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
St. Anthony is receiving the honor for sticking it out when times were tough Downtown, and reinvesting in its facilities and the community.