Oklahomans of the Year

Oklahoma is not only a beautiful, diverse land, with rolling plains and hills, and miles of lakes and rivers, but a place full of beautiful, diverse people.

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A Legacy of Philanthropy

Mary Blankenship Pointer’s energetic charitable work springs from grandparents and parents who led by example.

Long-time philanthropist Mary Blankenship Pointer works tirelessly for those in need for two reasons.

“God just charged me with lots of energy,” she says. “And giving is my family’s legacy.”

Pointer began her personal philanthropy in earnest in 2004, when she hosted former First Lady Barbara Bush for an event that “had 880 attendees, and funds raised were to support education in Oklahoma,” she says.

Photo by Brent Fuchs

Since then, Pointer says she has been honored to work on numerous events over the years. Recent events she has chaired include 2017’s YWCA Purple Sash Gala, the Oklahoma Creativity Ambassadors Gala, and the Pioneer Library System Foundation Guac and Roll with Rick Bayless.

The Oklahoma City resident has been recognized in numerous ways for her generosity, most recently with the Global Humanitarian Award from the World Experiences Foundation.

“I remember when I was 4 or 5 and I heard John F. Kennedy’s speech – the one when he said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,’” she says. “And I remember saying to my parents, ‘This is how we should live.’ Of course, my parents and my grandparents were already living that way. They were just quiet about it. I guess I’m just a little louder.”

Both of Pointer’s grandmothers raised gardens “a city-block wide, and just gave the food away,” she says.

And her maternal grandfather offered her a life lesson about giving without any expectation in return.

“During the Depression, he would give people money and, to help them keep their dignity, he always made them sign an IOU,” Pointer says.

As a youngster, Pointer found a trunk full of those IOUs and said to her grandmother, “Oh, look how rich we could be.”

“And my grandmother said, ‘That’s not how we do it,’” Pointer says. “My grandfather never collected a penny, and never intended to.”

Her mother and father were constant volunteers, serving others throughout their lives, Pointer says. Her mother volunteered anywhere she could, and her father used the carpentry skills he learned in the Navy to build things to help others.

Any way she looks at it, Pointer doesn’t see herself and the countless hours she has spent helping others – she sees how her family always gave their money and their time selflessly.

“They never spoke of it. They just did it,” she says. “I’m just carrying on their legacy.”