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Tom Love, Love’s Travel Stops founder, major OU donor, dies at 85

Love's Field background

Love's Field background during the groundbreaking ceremony of Love's Field on Sept. 23.

Tom Love, the founder and executive chair of Love’s Travel Stops and major OU donor, died Tuesday morning at 85. 

Love was born in 1937 in Oklahoma City and attended St. Gregory's Preparatory School in Shawnee and St. John's University in Minnesota before enlisting in the United States Marine Corps in 1954. In 1960, he married his wife, Judy. 

In 1964, Love leased an abandoned service station for $5,000 in Watonga. Nearly 60 years later, his company, Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores, has over 600 locations in the U.S. 

Love’s Travel Stops has donated millions of dollars to OU, including $9 million in 2021 to build Love’s Field, a new softball facility which began construction last September and is scheduled to finish in time for the 2024 season. 

OU also opened the Tom Love Innovation Hub in 2016, a facility dedicated to entrepreneurship and workforce development programs for students. 

Frank Keating, chair of OU’s Board of Regents and former governor of Oklahoma, wrote in a press release Love was a close friend of his, and he is heartbroken by the loss.

“He was a visionary, innovator, inspirational leader and compassionate person,” Keating wrote. “He was committed to his faith, and he gave generously, but often quietly, to support education, medical and other significant initiatives.”

OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. released a statement Tuesday evening, calling Love one of the nation's "most successful entrepreneurs." 

"At every turn, Tom remained unwavering in his dedication to building a better future for our state, and his impact can be felt across so many areas at the University of Oklahoma," Harroz wrote. 

Love is survived by his wife, Judy, his four children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“While the grief we feel is unmeasurable, we celebrate his life and will continue his legacy of living a life filled with integrity, honesty and faith,” Love’s family wrote in the press release. 

This story was edited by Alexia Aston and Karoline Leonard.

news editor

Jazz Wolfe has been with the Daily since 2020. They were previously a culture reporter, culture editor and the summer editor-in-chief. They focus on science and health journalism. 

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