Joseph (Joe) Glenn Dempsey, Petroleum Engineer, Foundation Consultant,
civic activist, and beloved husband, father, and grandfather died at age
88 at home on February 19
th, anniversary of the Fifth Division's Iwo Jima landing where he was
wounded – and unwaveringly convinced that "There is no such
thing as a good war." Born in Bartlesville to Oscar and Verna Dempsey,
he was reared in Tulsa where the family had moved in 1928. A high school
senior in 1942, he qualified to begin Oklahoma University studies by early
admission but volunteered for the Marine Corps early in 1943. Honorably
discharged in 1946, he married Ivy (aka Ivanell) Lindsay later that year.
After earning a BS in petroleum science at TU, he worked in oil production
and discovery, pursued post-graduate studies in reservoir engineering
and liberal arts (symphonic music a joy throughout his life). A natural
leader, he held executive positions with Dempsey Pump, Byron Jackson,
and Ivy Petroleum Corporations, and organized the Oklahoma Royalty Exchange.
Always civic-minded, he served as the Tulsa Vista Volunteer Board Chair,
supported the Church of the Advent youth center, serving as a leader in
the establishment of Tulsa Public School's Street School, was active
both in Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries and the Tulsa Interfaith Council,
in de-segregation efforts in Tulsa, and joined Rabbi Abraham Heschel's
Vietnam War Protest in Washington, D.C. A Presbyterian Elder, he continually
served as a teacher and church leader at all levels of that church's
judicatories, including such General Assembly bodies as the Nature of
Ministry Seminar, the Council on Evangelism, and the Advisory Council
on Discipleship and Worship. In recent years he had become a strong supporter
of the local and national interdenominational movement as a means of building
In 1973, he moved to Los Angeles to become the Executive Director of the
Los Angeles Inter-foundation Center (LAIC), which he was able to expand
– with support by Peter Drucker – to become the Southern California
Association for Philanthropy (SCAP) which served much like a community
foundation for southern California bringing over 7,000 foundations together.
He later directed the Keck Foundation philanthropic program in California
before becoming an independent foundation consultant, testifying on request
both for congressional and California committees regarding legislation
A talented athlete (tennis his favorite sport), Joe was always grateful
for the encouragement of Coach William C. Lantz, Tulsa Central High track
coach and Kanakuk Camp Director. Also active intellectually, Joe consistently
read biography, theology, and history (the Civil War a special interest),
and in each of his home cities (Los Angeles, Santa Fe, and Tulsa), organized
symposia of vital civic leaders, and especially treasured these friends.
Joe is survived by the family he tended with constant care: Ivy his wife
of 67 years, his children and their families: Mark, Fina, and Aaron (Orangevale,
CA); Laura Dempsey Polan (Tulsa) and Sasha (Providence, RI); and, Brian,
with Lori Butler (Sacramento, CA), and Lisbeth (Santa Fe, NM).
A memorial service will be at the Phillips Theological Seminary Chapel
in the main building, 901 North Mingo Road, on Tuesday, March 4
th at 3:00 pm, reception following in the Tabbernee Center. In lieu of flowers
the family suggests donations to Phillips Theological Seminary, to Hospice
of Green Country, or to the Tulsa Symphony.