Seven-Figure Support Johnsons Honored with Million-dollar Gift

By Wes McKinzie (98)

Jill and Cary Brown of Midland, Texas, gave Oklahoma Christian $1 million to fund student scholarships and renovate OC’s historic Benson Hall.

The renovation will include the Terry (64) and Marty (Mitchell 71) Johnson Administrative Suite. It will be named in honor of Jill’s parents, Terry and Marty Johnson, who served as Oklahoma Christian’s president and first lady from 1974 to 1996. Benson Hall, named for former Oklahoma Christian chancellor George Benson, was one of the four original academic facilities built when the college relocated to Oklahoma City from Bartlesville in 1958.

  • Terry and Marty Johnson with their daughter, Jill, and her husband, Cary Brown
Terry and Marty Johnson with their daughter, Jill, and her husband, Cary Brown

“We wanted to honor my parents and we were thrilled that the university decided to move the administration to Benson Hall, where my father served during his presidency,” Jill Brown said. “The gift for scholarships came from where our heart is. We want to help students pursue their education here. We love hearing stories about students getting to come to OC, developing and growing in their relationship to Christ.”

Cary Brown is president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board for Legacy Reserves, LP.

The Browns are members at Golf Course Road Church of Christ in Midland, where they are actively involved in missions and other ministries. They have four children: Mitchell, Emily, Ashley and Joshua.

“Terry and Marty have been such big influences in my life,” Cary Brown said. “Honoring them and partnering with them in their mission to help students grow and work out their faith … that is Terry’s and Marty’s passion, and that’s the joy we get out of this gift.”

Johnson’s presidency included more than $100 million raised for construction, endowment and operations, the construction of the Bible building (now known as the Williams-Branch Center for Biblical Studies), the Garvey Center, the Thelma Gaylord Forum and Enterprise Square USA.

It also included the expansion of the Mabee Learning Center and the Payne Athletic Center, the establishment of the engineering program and Prince Engineering Center, the start of the Vienna Studies program and the master’s degree in ministry, and OC’s move to university status in 1990.

Campus visits by iconic figures and leaders like Bob Hope and Sam Walton, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush also highlighted Johnson’s tenure. The elder Bush was the President of the United States when he came to OC’s campus in 1992. Marty, an accomplished teacher and businesswoman, is a legendary hostess and conversationalist. She welcomed countless world, civic and church leaders into the Johnson home as the consummate first lady.

“The legacy of Terry’s and Marty’s leadership continues to make a profound impact on OC today. They made people from all over the world feel at home here, and their service helped Oklahoma Christian grow by leaps and bounds,” President John deSteiguer said. “They are committed to Christian education, they love OC, and we are grateful that Cary and Jill share that love and commitment.”

Fall 2012

View more stories from the Fall 2012 issue of Vision magazine.