Luccocks' $1 million estate gift honors lifelong connection to OU Libraries

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Thomas and Catherine Luccock made a $1 million estate gift to OU Libraries that will provide classic books and annual awards for outstanding staff and students in perpetuity.

Thomas and Catherine Luccock made a $1 million estate gift to OU Libraries that will provide classic books and annual awards for outstanding staff and students in perpetuity.

Classic books will forever remain in the hands of University of Oklahoma students and OU Libraries staff members will be honored in perpetuity due to a $1 million estate gift from Tom and Cathy Luccock of Tulsa.

The longtime supporters’ most recent contribution to the OU Foundation will bolster the Thomas and Catherine Luccock Endowed Library Fund, which the couple established in 1997.
Proceeds underwrite the $3,000 Award of Excellence – the annual prize for outstanding OU Libraries staff members – and four $500 awards for student employees. Another portion of the gift is used to purchase contemporary and traditional classic books in literature, art, music and philosophy.

“Tom and Cathy understand that, by investing here, they lift the entire university,” said Interim Dean of OU Libraries Carl Grant, adding that the Luccocks have been members of the OU Libraries Board since 1999 and Cathy Luccock serves on the board of Tulsa’s Peggy Helmerich Library. The couple previously funded a group collaboration room in Bizzell Memorial Library and a display case for OU Special Collections.

“We are so grateful for their exceptional contributions and their continued leadership and generosity. They are just tremendous supporters. You couldn’t ask for better people,” Grant commented.

Tom Luccock, a 1970 OU Phi Beta Kappa graduate in mathematics, is a Norman native and cannot remember a time when his family wasn’t connected to OU or its libraries.

“I frequently studied in Bizzell, even in high school. The then-director of OU Libraries, Arthur McAnally, vacationed with our family, and my aunt, Mary Lou Livermore, donated the one millionth volume to the library in 1964.

“I grew up with OU being a big part of my life,” he said. “At one time it seemed we had about 15 family members with OU degrees.” Among them was Luccock’s mother, Jewel Nelson Luccock. His father, Randolph Luccock, was a petroleum engineer who taught at OU in the 1940s.

After becoming a CPA and establishing a successful, 23-year career at Occidental Petroleum, Tom memorialized his parents with endowed funds at the OU Foundation for scholarships in piano and petroleum engineering. Tom launched a second career in 2000 as director of internal auditing and senior adviser to the president at Michigan State University, retiring in 2015. He was named an honorary alumnus last year. Throughout his career at MSU, Tom maintained close ties to OU as a member of the Steed School of Accounting Board of Visitors and a mentor to accounting students. The Luccocks also set up an endowed fund at the OU Foundation for accounting students to study abroad.

While Tom commuted between Michigan and Oklahoma, Cathy continued her 37-year career teaching Advanced Placement English, poetry and composition. She retired in 2013 as chair of the Department of English at Tulsa’s Cascia Hall Preparatory School, a position she held for two decades.

“We feel that librarians are very much the unsung heroes of college campuses. The library should be the heart and soul of the campus. We were just hoping that we could recognize some of the good work that is transpiring at OU,” said Cathy.

In addition, Tom and Cathy once parted with a rare first edition of Thoreau’s “Walden” as a gift to OU Libraries.

“As Thoreau said, ‘A written word is the work of art nearest to life itself … most intimate and most universal.’ Cathy quoted.