Oklahoma Baptist University

Exemplary Leadership

Bailey Business Center

The Paul Dickinson School of Business is named after an exemplary leader. Paul Dickinson was born in Wiley, Texas, in 1895. He began to make his own way at the tender age of 12 when he ended his formal education in the sixth grade. Before joining the U.S, Army Air Corps as an airplane mechanic during World War II, Paul earned money picking cotton and working other odd jobs. In 1919, he borrowed $2.50 to marry his sweetheart, Mattie Ruth Wheeler, daughter of a frontier Texas Baptist preacher. He jokingly said Ruth transformed him from a “hobo” into an “ambitious young man.”

Paul worked with United Motor Service, a division of General Motors that serviced the new electric starters on GM cars. By 1921, he had managed to save $750 to begin his own service center in Ardmore. Always aware of changes in the automobile industry, he later opened an auto parts store, and gradually changed the business from servicing and repairing to selling replacement parts. Through hard work, he built his business into three corporations, which continuing to operate wholesale auto parts stores in six Oklahoma cities.

From 1951-54, Paul’s business grew to include stores in Chickasha, Lawton, Shawnee and Duncan. He had earned an unmatched reputation in the replacement parts industry. He continued to manage his stores until his 70s, and retained an active role in the business while in his 80s.

Although Paul conservatively managed his business investments, he generously helped others. In the 1960s, he established a charitable foundation. He later funded a scholarship program at First Baptist Church, Ardmore, and two academic chairs at OBU – one in religion and one in business. He later endowed OBU’s School of Business in excess of $3.4 million. The school was later named in his honor. OBU awarded Paul an honorary doctor of laws degree in 1988. And, in 1991, Paul went ahead of us to the rewards of heaven.