© 2019 Sarkeys Foundation, a Nonprofit Organization. 
All rights reserved.
530 East Main St. • Norman, OK  73071
405 • 364 • 3703
Born in Lebanon in 1874, Sarkeys J. Sarkeys was the son of a well-to-do olive farmer. Inspired by the opportunities described by his two brothers who were living in St. Louis, Sarkeys came to America when he was only 17 years old.

Upon his arrival in St. Louis, Sarkeys joined his brothers in the sales of a new invention, the carbide lamp.  Traveling by horse and buggy, Sarkeys canvassed the area, determined to make a living.  Eventually, however, he decided that the best opportunities for lamp sales existed in South America.  Driven by a tenacious desire to make his fortune, Sarkeys began a circuitous route there.

His travels took him through Cushing, Oklahoma, where he watched an oil well come in.  The lure of oil money and the excitement of the business captivated him, in spite of the fact that he had no formal training in geology or petroleum engineering. Oklahoma quickly became home, where Sarkeys would exchange his career in selling lamps for a more lucrative career in selling oil and gas leases, acquiring mineral rights along the way.  The successful production from these holdings became the basis for several fortunes Sarkeys would gain and lose during his lifetime.


When he died in 1965 at the age of 92, the Sarkeys Foundation was just three years old, established with 2,750 shares of stock from Sarkeys, Inc. By the time of Sarkeys' death, the Foundation had made contributions of about $14,000. Since then, the Foundation has awarded more than $80 million in grants.

Governed by a dedicated Board of Trustees, the foundation that bears SJ Sarkeys' name is deeply committed to furthering his vision to improve the quality of life in Oklahoma. With assets
of approximately $100 million, Sarkeys Foundation provides grants to a diverse group of nonprofit organizations and institutions, almost all of which are located in Oklahoma.