The INTEGRIS Foundation presented its highest honor, the INTEGRIS Philanthropist of the Year award, to philanthropists Gene and Jo Downing during its signature fundraising gala on April 12.
Celebrating transformational philanthropy within the INTEGRIS system, the award is bestowed upon passionate advocates whose service offers charitable goodwill to the community with vision and leadership.
“Gene and Jo’s ongoing demonstration of what it means to be committed sets an example for so many to follow,” said James Moore, president of INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center. “Their financial contributions will undoubtedly have a lasting effect. Moreover, the contributions of servant-leadership, volunteerism, integrity and optimism will have the greatest legacy potential throughout INTEGRIS Health.”
Although the Downings have already left a significant philanthropic legacy within their community, Jo believes it is God’s blessing to allow them to do so. “Giving to others is a blessing God has given us. We would rather do for others, than receive.”
Gene has served on the INTEGRIS Southwest board since 2001, Jo on the INTEGRIS Foundation board since 2009. Their voices have impacted various levels of improvement at INTEGRIS during the past several years, and they credit a passionate desire to serve others as their reason for joining INTEGRIS’ efforts to impact the community.
“I’ve learned [giving back] is about being a really good listener … finding out where the community’s needs are and doing our best to help them,” said Gene. “I hope my legacy will demonstrate that I have earned the right to put four words on my tombstone, ‘You made a difference.’ You want to leave a legacy that inspires others to step up to the plate.’”
As Kansas natives, Gene and Jo were transferred to Oklahoma early in their careers. The high school sweethearts are also business partners and founders of Oklahoma City-based Downing Wellhead Equipment Inc., formed in 1980.
“The Downings are truly visionaries who do not simply stop at personal giving when supporting philanthropy that’s closest to their heart,” said Brad Walker, INTEGRIS Foundation executive director. “They serve entirely through giving of their time, talent and connections to ensure their community and their hospital succeed in every way possible. We are very excited to honor Gene and Jo with our signature award at our signature event.”
Along with their INTEGRIS involvement, Gene and Jo hold many positions within the community including Sunday School director and secretary at Southern Hills Baptist Church, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Gideon’s OKC South Camp, Oil Patch Chaplains, Angel Flight Oklahoma, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Boys Ranch Town and Style Show.
Married 48 years ago, the Downings have three daughters, Shelley, Gina and Stacey. They have nine grandchildren, Channing, Savannah Jo, Madison, Bailey, Christopher, Kaleigh, Dylan, Nicholas and Mckenzie Belle.
The Downings will formally received the Philanthropist of the Year award among more than 600 guests during the annual INTEGRIS Gala on April 12, at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Proceeds from the 15th annual event will provide critical funding for education and resources needed to prevent, rapidly recognize and treat patients suffering from acute ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke at the James R. Daniel Stroke Centers at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center and INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center.
Posted on Mon, April 15, 2013
by Becky Endicott filed under