Remembering a Community Leader and Distinguished Philanthropist

Thomas Boone Pickens Jr., an involved Board of Trustees member and significant contributor to Southwestern Medical Foundation, passed away on September 11, 2019, at the age of 91.

T. Boone Pickens inspired decades of medical progress through his generous gifts, ambassadorship, and community involvement, leaving an enduring impact on the advancement of health care for our community and beyond.


Pickens started his college career at Texas A&M University on a basketball scholarship. He later transferred to Oklahoma State University.

Planting the Seed for Generations of Medical Progress

Born and raised in a small Oklahoma town, Pickens’ entrepreneurial spirit was evident even in the early years of his life. Growing up, he delivered papers and mowed lawns to make money. Afterwards, he made Texas his home, where he would eventually leave a lasting impact as a distinguished community member and well-known entrepreneur in the oil and gas industry.

In 2006, he established the T. Boone Pickens Foundation, spurring what was but the beginning of a long-standing history of giving generously to Southwestern Medical Foundation and UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“I firmly believe one of the reasons I was put on this earth was to make money and be generous with it, and that’s what I’ve continually tried to do.”

T. Boone Pickens

Read more about T. Boone Pickens’ background in Perspectives: 75 Years of Vision, Part III: 2000 to 2015.


Pickens generously supported his alma mater, Oklahoma State University, making gifts to their academic and athletic programs that will benefit the school for generations.

Leading with a Generous Heart

The generosity of T. Boone Pickens is visible far and wide. During the span of his career, his philanthropic endeavors have totaled more than $1 billion across health and medical research, treatment and services, entrepreneurship, kids at risk, education and athletics, corporate health and fitness, and conservation and wildlife management.

In 2006, he announced a transformational gift of $50 million to the Foundation in support of UT Southwestern. This gift came with a unique agreement that the fund must grow to $500 million within 25 years from earnings on the principal or from new donations received from other organizations and individuals. Today, this challenge to grow the fund to $500 millions has been met, representing tremendous progress.

In recognition of Pickens’ generosity, the 800,000-square-foot, “new Biomedical Research Tower” was officially named the T. Boone Pickens Biomedical Building.

T. Boone Pickens Biomedical Building at UT Southwestern Medical Center

“It is my desire to build a major legacy that will help ensure the excellence of UT Southwestern in the decades to come.”

T. Boone Pickens

For years, Mr. Pickens has served as philanthropic supporter and active member of the Foundation, contributing to noble causes and playing an active role in advocacy.

In 2004, he created the T. Boone Pickens Fund for Cancer Research and Treatment in honor of Eugene Frenkel, M.D., which benefits programs at UT Southwestern.

In 2006, he established the T. Boone Pickens Scholarship Endowment Fund, which provides permanent annual support for Phoenix House, a substance abuse treatment facility for teenagers in Dallas. Every year, the Fund provides hope and funding for six to eight local teenagers to receive residential treatment at Phoenix House. The impact is in the outcome – in 2018, Phoenix House Texas achieved a completion rate of 75% and an abandoning treatment rate less than 10%, compared to the national average of 25%.

Pickens joined the Southwestern Medical Foundation Board of Trustees in 2010. He also served as an Honorary Trustee, continuing to advocate for medical progress and represent the Foundation through his acts of service.

Read more about T. Boone Pickens’ philanthropic impact in Perspectives: 75 Years of Vision, Part III: 2000 to 2015


Support for Innovations in Medicine

The success of the Innovations in Medicine capital campaign was made possible by the gifts of over 700 donors who pledged an unprecedented $772 million in donations.

The campaign, announced in 2002, received a total of 312 contributions of $1 million or more and 24 gifts of $5 million or greater – with four donors giving more than $50 million. The T. Boone Pickens Foundation gave more than $53 million, helping ensure the campaign’s success of the capital and support years of medical progress at UT Southwestern.

Learn more about the tremendous generosity shown during the Innovations in Medicine campaign, which was the most successful philanthropic fundraising effort in Dallas history. Perspectives: 75 Years of Vision, Part III: 2000 to 2015.


A Worthy Recognition

In 2007, for his enduring gifts and visionary acts of philanthropy, the Foundation presented Boone with their most prestigious award, the Charles Cameron Sprague Community Service Award (now known as The Sprague Award).

“The award is very important … particularly because I knew Dr. Sprague from way back and we had worked on several things together. He was a wonderful man, and I wish he was here for me to shake his hand and tell him how much we appreciate receiving it.”

T. Boone Pickens


An Icon of Enduring Progress

Pickens gave generously with an ambitious vision for the future of our community, a vision that will continue to shape the lives of those he influenced and benefit the health and well-being of all.

Today, Pickens is survived by his five children, Deborah Pickens Stovall, Pam Pickens Grace, Michael Pickens, Tom Pickens, and Liz Pickens Cordia.

While we mourn the loss of such a cherished and valued leader, we celebrate the life he led; one that was lived fully in the pursuit of others’ wellbeing and will forever leave its mark on the history of medical progress. We thank Pickens for paving the way towards a brighter future, shaped by his generosity, leadership, and ambition.


Read T. Boone Pickens’ full obituary here.