Buford Family Foundation - Chapman Legacy Society
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Gifts Established:

  • Martha Canterbury Buford Endowed Fund for Presbyterian Students | Est. 2001
  • R.C. Buford Endowed Fund for Men’s Basketball | Est. 2001
  • Martha Canterbury Buford Presidential Scholarship Fund | Est. 2001
brick engraved with name Buford Family Foundation

Buford Family Foundation

The Buford Family Foundation was founded by Mr. C. Robert “Bob” Buford and his wife, Martha Canterbury Buford, who was the granddaughter of Robert and Josephine Sharp, the namesake founders of Sharp Memorial Chapel on TU’s campus. The Buford Family Foundation has been a generous supporter of The University of Tulsa, establishing three important endowments – The Martha Canterbury Buford Presidential Scholarship Fund, The Martha Canterbury Buford Endowed Fund for Presbyterian Students, and The R.C. Buford Endowed Fund for Men’s Basketball.

Martha Buford (BS ’56) graduated from The University of Tulsa with a degree in political science. As a student, she was active in social activities on campus, participating as a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and being named Basketball Queen in 1956.

Martha passed away in 2020, leaving a remarkable legacy of helping others, both through her service and philanthropy. At the time of her death, she and Bob had been married for 61 years, spending most of their married life in Wichita, Kansas, where they had lovingly raised their three children, Anne, R.C. and Jo.

Bob Buford was born in Bowlegs, Oklahoma, and grew up in oilfield camps in Oklahoma and Texas. He served for seven years in the U.S. Army Reserves and married Martha in 1958. Mr. Buford founded Zenith Drilling Corporation, followed by his co-founding of Barrett Energy Company. Mr. Buford was inducted into the Wichita, Kansas, Business Hall of Fame and the OSU Spears School of Business Hall of Fame. Bob and Martha Buford have been loyal and longstanding supporters of The University of Tulsa, with membership in the President’s Council, the Circle Society and the Chapman Legacy Society.

Robert and Josephine Sharp

Robert C. Sharp was born in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania on December 28, 1874, the only son of William J. Sharp and Martha Louise Cowden. Sharp attended Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. On September 22, 1903, Mr. Sharp married Miss Josephine Parker, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry J. Parker, also of Pennsylvania.

Sharp, having become interested in oil, gas, and coal production, arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in September 1910, and from that time forward, was active in oil and gas production in the state. In 1917, he was elected to the vice presidency of the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company (ONG). His experiences as an oil and gas pioneer led to his presidencies of ONG, the Southern Natural Gas Company, and the Independent Oil & Gas Company.

Sharp attributed his successful life to the basic fundamentals of his faith in God, being good to his parents, providing the best he could for his family, and having the will to work hard.

As philanthropists, Sharp and his wife, Josephine, contributed generously to a variety of institutions and philanthropic organizations in Tulsa, including the First Presbyterian Church and The University of Tulsa. Sharp was very involved in community organizations in Tulsa and was a director of the Boys’ Home of Tulsa and the Young Men’s Christian Association. Sharp also was an honorary trustee of The University of Tulsa from 1957 until his death in 1969.

Of the couple’s many investments in TU, no gift is more visible than The University of Tulsa’s stunning Sharp Memorial Chapel. This beautiful building, comprised of stone, steel and stained glass, speaks eloquently of the Sharps’ strong faith. Originally completed in November 1959, the chapel was a gift from the Sharps to TU to foster spirituality on campus. During the dedication ceremonies, Mr. Sharp received an honorary doctorate of humanities.

These visionary philanthropists also provided funding to establish a maintenance endowment to preserve, maintain, repair and improve Sharp Memorial Chapel in perpetuity. In 2002, a major renovation was undertaken with the maintenance endowment providing 100% of the necessary funding. This first renovation of Sharp Memorial Chapel included the addition of a new educational wing to the west of the original building with an enlarged reception room, a new kitchen and offices, as well as a welcoming and spacious lobby that is a popular venue for receptions and meetings. During this renovation, modifications were made to the external entryway that included a bell tower and an external staircase leading to the second floor. This renovation also created a beautiful courtyard leading to the south entrance. Included within the building are the Sanctuary; a Meditation Chapel; the Chaplain’s Office; the Robert C. Sharp Westminster Student Center; the Josephine P. Sharp Reception Suite; the Buford Atrium; and the Martha S. Canterbury Suite.

In recent years, the Sharp Advisory Committee, a standing committee of the TU Board of Trustees, has elected to direct a portion of the unused endowment income toward the establishment of scholarship endowments that directly benefit TU’s students.

Thanks to the generosity of the Sharp and Buford families, Sharp Memorial Chapel will enhance the beauty and spirituality of TU’s campus for generations to come, and an endless stream of deserving students will enjoy scholarship opportunities to pursue their goals.