Long-held Frakes Endowment grows beyond donor's wildest imaginings

Winter 2019

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Twenty-seven years ago, Margaret Frakes couldn’t have imagined what one simple sentence in her will would mean to University of Oklahoma students.

Margaret, a 1935 graduate, made OU the sole beneficiary of her estate. When she died in 1994 at age 79, the OU Foundation established the Russel and Margaret Frakes Memorial Scholarship using mineral rights income from the bequest. At that time, the estate was valued at $1.4 million.

By 2014, the fund had grown to $4.3 million. And then came an Oklahoma oil and gas boom. Within the past five years, income from the Frakes’ mineral rights has grown 186 percent. Today, the fund is valued at $12.3 million and has provided educational opportunities for hundreds of students in OU’s Price College of Business, said OU Foundation President and CEO Guy L. Patton.

“The Frakes’ bequest is a classic example of the legacy that estate gifts and endowed funds can have on OU students over decades,” Patton said. “It also demonstrates how meaningful a gift of mineral rights can be to future generations. With the continued evolution of oilfield technology and the Foundation’s long-term retention of these assets, a gift of mineral rights can have an impact that is many times larger than what the donor would ever have imagined.”

While at OU, Margaret was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and Russel was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. After marrying in 1938, the couple moved to Kingfisher, Okla., where Russel worked as a landman. The Frakes had inherited mineral rights from Russel’s late father, El Reno, Okla., banker Russel Frakes Sr., and purchased others until the couple owned rights to 82 separate pieces of property across north-central Oklahoma.

Though the Frakes had no children of their own, they will influence youth for many years to come, said Price College Dean Daniel W. Pullin, who also serves as OU’s Fred E. Brown Chair in Business.

“The students of Price College benefit from the Frakes’ estate gift in many ways,” he said. “The gift has accelerated our progress to recruit the best and brightest students to our flagship MBA program while providing scholarship flexibility for important experiential learning opportunities in our growing study abroad programs.

“The Frakes’ gift is truly one for the ages and their foresight has been an important part of the college’s ability to continue the climb among the nation’s top business schools.”