Linda Loughridge, Tulsa's 'fun' fundraiser, dies at 72
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Sunday, August 26, 2012
8/26/12 at 2:47 AM
The pulse of the fledgling Heart Ball was beating much stronger by the time Linda Loughridge finished her time at the helm.
As chairwoman in 1974, the ball's fourth year, Loughridge helped set the American Heart Association fundraiser on the road to becoming one of Tulsa's premiere charity benefits.
Besides implementing raffle prizes for the first time and first-order entertainment, she did a total reboot, changing it from a staid black-tie affair to a rollicking country-western shindig.
The result: the ball's first sellout crowd.
"My mother always told me that if you make your event fun, people will come back," said Laurie Wollmershauser, Loughridge's daughter and enthusiastic fellow charity volunteer.
"Making things fun, making people feel good, was something she had a great gift for."
With the Heart Ball, Loughridge was just getting started making things fun on Tulsa's charity scene.
With her husband, Dr. Bill Loughridge, often at her side, she would enjoy an active volunteer life, helping organize events for the Tulsa County Medical Society, St. John Medical Center, the Tulsa Cerebral Palsy Association and many other organizations.
Linda Faye Loughridge died Aug. 16 of complications from cancer. She was 72.
A memorial service was held Aug. 21 at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church. Ninde Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
An Ardmore native, Loughridge moved to Tulsa in 1967 with her husband, who was one of the city's first cardiovascular surgeons.
From the beginning, she pursued a variety of civic and charitable interests.
With her talents, "she could have worked full time and made a lot of money, but volunteering is what she chose to do," her daughter said.
Of all the charity benefits Loughridge was involved in, her favorite was probably Blass & Burgers, a 1983 fundraiser for St. John's that she conceived and also chaired, her daughter said.
Again, the emphasis was on fun.
With Brownie's Hamburgers supplying the food, Loughridge brought in famous fashion designer Bill Blass for a grand fashion show at the hospital.
The event was a hit, raising about $1.5 million for the hospital, which was expanding at the time.
Although Tulsa's art scene - including Tulsa Opera and the Tulsa Symphony - was also a big beneficiary of her time, Loughridge's volunteering frequently was connected to her support for her husband and his medical career.
Linda, a graduate of Ardmore High School and the University of Oklahoma, met Bill Loughridge while working at the post office in Ardmore.
Bill, also an Ardmore native, had just graduated from medical school and was driving to the post office when "I saw Linda walking across the street in front of us," he said.
"I asked my dad 'My God, who is that?' And I told him right there that I was going to marry her."
Bill asked Linda out, and, true to his declaration, they married three months later.
"I was going to Galveston for my internship, and I told her I just couldn't leave without her," he said.
During the last seven months of Linda's illness, Bill never left her side.
"They just absolutely adored each other," Wollmershauser said.
Loughridge's survivors include her husband of 51 years; three daughters, Laurie Wollmershauser, Lisa Olsen and Amy Loughridge; five grandchildren; and a brother, James Harrell.
Original Print Headline: Avid volunteer always put 'fun' in fundraising
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
Linda Loughridge helped organize fundraising events for multiple organizations in Tulsa. Tulsa World file