Bill & Martha King

Bill & Martha King

For the majority of their lives, Bill and Martha King dedicated themselves to serving others. Their charitable giving reflects their desire to help those less fortunate and it will continue to do so for many years to come.

Bill’s service for others began when he was drafted into the U.S. Army after earning a petroleum engineering degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1950. His military service ended in 1954 and he returned to his hometown of Wolco, Oklahoma, to help his father run the family-owned King Grocery stores. In 1965, Bill decided to attend a seminary in Massachusetts and was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1969. He left the priesthood in 1971 and began working for an engineering consulting firm before eventually serving as the director of the energy division of the Oklahoma Office of Public Affairs.

A Tulsa native, Martha earned her master's degree before entering the Benedictine convent in Guthrie, Oklahoma, in 1954. She began teaching English and journalism, first at Monte Casino Catholic High School in Tulsa, then for eight years at Oklahoma City's Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School.

A civil rights advocate, Martha challenged her students to participate in interracial discussion groups. To help her students understand how those less fortunate live, she created a three-year mentoring program in Oklahoma City's community camp. Upon leaving the religious order in 1968, Martha co-founded Neighbor for Neighbor, a nonprofit organization whose mission was to assist people who had emergency needs related to housing, food, utilities, transportation and prescriptions. In 1985, she was hired as the U.S. volunteer director for World Neighbors and was responsible for coordinating volunteers and arranging their travel visits to program sites abroad.

The couple married in 1972, becoming a power couple in the world of volunteerism. After retiring in 1985, Bill volunteered his time alongside his wife. Martha retired in 1992 only to broaden her volunteer efforts.

Following the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the couple began volunteering at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Martha became an integral player in helping to organize the response following the bombing. In addition to helping process assistance to survivors each week, she served as a trustee for the Disaster Relief Fund for 20 years and for 17 years as a volunteer on our Trustee Scholarship Initiative committee.

In 1998, the couple began a fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to support their charitable interests. They expanded their giving in 2007 when they established the Rev. Kenneth King Memorial Scholarship to support awards to students graduating from rural high schools. Martha died in 2017, but her legacy continues through the Martha King Scholarship Fund established by Trustees in her honor.

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