The Priddy Foundation was founded in 1963 in Wichita Falls, Texas by Walter M. and Swannanoa Priddy. Walter Priddy, a Virginia native, made his fortune in the oil and gas industry. He was also founder and president of the Sabine Corporation. Originally, the foundation was used as a vehicle for the Priddy’s personal charity interests, and for years functioned as a family foundation, led by the couple and their sons, Robert T., Charles H., and Ashley H., along with a few close friends and business associates.
In the early years, there were no principal areas of focus for the foundation’s funding. Grants were made primarily to organizations the family supported, not only in Wichita Falls, but also in Virginia and North Carolina, the birthplaces of Mr. and Mrs. Priddy.
In the early 1970s, Robert T. Priddy, the Priddy’s eldest son, was named president of the foundation. An accomplished businessman in his own right, Robert Priddy was the chairman and CEO of Dual Drilling, a land and off shore drilling company he co-founded in 1951. Priddy continued his personal business pursuits while leading the foundation and working with his brothers to carry on the family’s charitable giving. In 1980, at the peak of the oil boom, Priddy sold Dual Drilling to the Bechtel Group and, soon after, assumed sole control of the foundation. He, and wife Ruby, began making substantial gifts to the foundation and it was during this time that the foundation’s impact in Wichita Falls philanthropy grew significantly.
Under Robert Priddy’s leadership, the foundation transformed from a small family foundation into a highly respected private foundation. Financial assets of the foundation grew dramatically. The size of the board increased and additional non-family members were added as trustees. By the early 1990s, The Priddy Foundation was a vital community asset, impacting the lives of thousands across north Texas.
Robert Priddy stepped down as the foundation president in 1998 but remained active in philanthropic endeavors. In 2001 he launched the Robert and Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust, a limited life trust, which between 2002 and 2010 awarded over $86 million in grants, primarily to colleges and universities. By 2010, however, the mission of the trust closely mirrored the mission of the foundation and Priddy made the decision to transfer assets dedicated for the trust to the foundation, further insuring the philanthropic opportunities of The Priddy Foundation for decades to come. Robert Priddy continued to serve the foundation as trustee emeritus until his death in January 2015.
In 2013, The Priddy Foundation celebrated 50 years of philanthropy. Through mid 2018, the foundation has cumulatively invested almost $130 million in the continued welfare, education, health and growth of residents primarily in North Texas and Southern Oklahoma.
Today the foundation makes grants principally in the areas of human services, education, the arts, and health, with geographical concentrations in North Texas and Southern Oklahoma. It is governed by a committed board of community leaders who count it a privilege to continue the legacy of the Priddy family.