Even in paradise, Anne Greenwood was not content until she found a way to be helpful.
She and her husband, Michael, spend about a month every year in Maui. She had dreamed since childhood of visiting Hawaii, where her father was posted in the military, so that’s where they were married. Leaving their Stillwater home, they return every July to celebrate their anniversary and go again in February for whale-watching.
A month was too much time to spend in a place without giving back, she decided, so the couple joined a United Methodist church that provides meals for a shelter. On Saturdays, Anne Greenwood helps women from the church make 150 fresh-flower leis presented to Sunday visitors, along with a heartfelt “Aloha.”
Her membership is not without its payback. The open-air church affords a view of the ocean, Tongan choir music and a ukulele-playing pastor.
That’s how life tends to work for Anne Greenwood. She does her best to help the lives of others by endowing scholarships, bestowing building funds and providing snacks and encouragement to students at Oklahoma State University, which she attended for three years. In return, she gets joy from personal interactions, and those exchanges light up a face characterized by a wide smile that, she says, she inherited from her father.
Greenwood grew up in Carnegie, where “everybody looked after everybody.” Her mother taught elementary school and her father farmed, and they made it clear to their five children that higher education was not optional.
Greenwood chose OSU after attending a summer camp there and studied hard to earn scholarships. Her mother’s health began to fail when she was a junior in high school, which meant she was needed even more for domestic duties, farm chores and taking care of younger siblings.
She arrived at OSU at age 18 and “a little uncertain,” she says, “but every single person was kind to me. OSU gave me the platform I needed to dream big, to study and learn, to always push harder.”
For her 50th birthday, Greenwood created a scholarship for students from her native southwestern Oklahoma. She and her husband now fund five scholarships.
She finished her accounting degree at the University of Tulsa and pursued a career in oil and gas and public utilities. Michael, an OSU grad, worked in finance. They positioned themselves for an early retirement in Stillwater, where they built a house.
“We had been here two weeks when he got a job offer in New York,” Greenwood says. “He said he would take the job and give the money away.”
The fruits of that labor include the Anne Morris Greenwood Reading Room in the campus library, the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center and the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music, now under construction. She was recently named Philanthropist of the Year by Women for OSU.
“We try to find things that don’t get as much attention,” says Greenwood, who adopted a habit of buying bottled water and snacks and distributing them to marching band members during their long practices and on game days.
“The more I know, the more I want to give,” she says. “We have professors and students who do so much with so little.”