Cecil O’Brate was born and raised on a farm in Enid, Oklahoma during the Great Depression. It was there that he learned what it meant to work hard and how to contribute to household expenses, all before turning 17 years old. “I knew what it was to be poor and I just knew that I didn’t want to be poor.” Money was tight and while he held a variety of jobs, Cecil continued his education, taking a special interest in math. Because of his love of numbers, he aspired to attend Oklahoma State University to study architecture and later decided on structural engineering. Cecil looks back at that time and advises students, “When it comes to education, you’ve got to have an inquisitive mind or you’re going to miss a lot.” Just before his senior year of high school, Cecil moved to Syracuse, KS with his grandfather and while there, he met his future wife, Frances. The two have now been married for over 70 years and share four children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. They have spent more than 60 years in Garden City, Kansas. Cecil is a farmer, oilman, entrepreneur, investor, visionary and leader. His investments in oil and gas ventures helped to build American Warrior, INC and it is currently one of the largest independently owned oil and gas production companies in Kansas. Looking over his career Cecil explains, “I have found no substitute for an honest day’s work, an inquisitive mind and a desire to always do more.” Sharing these lessons and values are part of what inspired Cecil and Frances to open the O’Brate Foundation in 2012. Together they value education and desire to help “bridge the gap” for motivated youth to help overcome obstacles on the road to higher education.
During this unprecedented global pandemic the O’Brate Foundation continues to BRIDGE THE GAP for disadvantage youth through Scholarships and Basic Needs Assistance Programs to those who are being affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.