Philanthropist, Tulsa Hall of Famer Margery Mayo Bird dies at 95
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Thursday, September 06, 2012
9/06/12 at 4:19 AM
Not unlike those crystal chandeliers in the ballroom, Margery Mayo Bird's eyes always seemed to sparkle when she reminisced about her father's hotel.
Co-founded in the 1920s by Tulsa businessman John D. Mayo, the luxurious Mayo Hotel was the place where all of the city's grand soirees were held and where movie stars and other celebrities stayed while in town.
It also served, as Bird once told the Tulsa World, as a getaway for local business and civic leaders and their families, especially to cool down during the hot summers.
Some would check into the hotel for days or even weeks, she said, laughing at memories of one female lodger who used to ring the downstairs buzzer and ask the elevator girl to "please come and zip my dress."
In 2003, after the Mayo had sat vacant for years, Bird was on hand as an honorary event chairwoman when the new owner held a reopening gala.
Also a benefit for Tulsa Opera, it was double the pleasure for Bird, as the gala brought together two of her favorite things - her family's legacy and the local arts scene.
A member of one of the city's pioneering families who became an icon in her own right, earning a place in the Tulsa Hall of Fame as an arts patron and philanthropist, Margery Mayo Feagin Bird died Aug. 29. She was 95.
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at First Presbyterian Church under the direction of Stanleys Funeral Home.
A Tulsa native and 1933 graduate of Holland Hall, Bird went on to study drama at and graduate from the Erskine School in Boston.
In Tulsa, she had long commitments to the Arts and Humanities Council, Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa Opera and Tulsa Ballet.
She also served on the boards of the Junior League of Tulsa, the Tulsa Garden Center, the Center for the Physically Limited and the Tulsa Historical Society.
For many years she was active with Tulsa Little Theatre, including as a performer, and was a past president of Tulsa Town Hall.
The University of Tulsa was also special to her and was a frequent object of her benevolence.
Among her contributions, she established three arts-related endowments at TU: a scholarship for students majoring in music or theater and two endowed professorships.
Bird, who also donated toward construction of the Mayo Village student apartments, visited the campus as recently as two weeks ago, officials said.
Jan Zink, TU's vice president for planning and outreach, said Bird's "financial generosity has worked wonders here at TU ... But it was her generosity of spirit that truly set her apart.
Margery epitomized personal grace, and the warmth with which she embraced life will live on with everyone who was fortunate enough to know her."
Bird's sense of style and etiquette was well-remarked, but it didn't stop her from letting her hair down.
Later in life, the fun-loving Bird took flight, trying out parasailing, ziplining, hot-air ballooning and other age-defying activities.
Bird was inducted into the Tulsa Hall of Fame in 2002. Among her many honors and recognitions, she was also presented a Governor's Arts Award in 2006 for her contributions to the arts in Oklahoma, and in 1999, she received TU's Distinguished Service Award.
She was also a trustee emeritus and longtime donor to Holland Hall.
Bird's cousin Marcia Mayo said Bird was the "senior stateswoman of the Mayo family, ... my link to not only our past but an example for me of a savvy, modern woman whose keen intelligence, savoir-faire and adaptability enabled her to flourish in all circumstances and across the generations.
"As I told her just days before her death, she has set the standard for my sister, Cathy Mayo Moore, and I to follow as businesswomen and civically engaged philanthropists."
Bird was preceded in death by her first husband, Don Feagin; their son, John Donald Feagin; her second husband, Jim Bird; and her brother, Burch Mayo.
Original Print Headline: Legacy spurred philanthropist
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
Margery Mayo Bird: Her cousin Marcia Mayo said Bird was the "senior stateswoman of the Mayo family, ... my link to not only our past but an example for me of a savvy, modern woman whose keen intelligence, savoir-faire and adaptability enabled her to flourish in all circumstances and across the generations."