Like many 4-H alumni, Bill Doenges said 4-H molded him from a shy child to one who possessed the drive to succeed in life.
Doenges said he is a product of an exceptional 4-H program in Washington County. During his time in 4-H, he attended many state and national trips, was the first state 4-H vice president and was a national winner in the agriculture project. He also was inducted into the Oklahoma 4-H Hall of Fame in 1956.
Doenges said he had many role models, including his peers Tom Tate and Larry Derryberry, who helped him reach his fullest potential as a 4-H’er.
“It was a great time to be in 4-H,” Doenges said.
Through 4-H, Doenges said he formed a passion for livestock judging, however, his livestock-judging talent came about unexpectedly at his first judging contest.
“The coach just put four of us together and took us out there,” he said. “I ended up being high individual and fell in love with judging.”
After the contest, Doenges said he made it a goal to be a member of the Oklahoma State University livestock judging team. He met that goal and served on the OSU livestock and meat judging teams while obtaining his bachelor’s degree in animal science.
Doenges continued his education at the University of Tulsa and received his law degree. After graduation, Doenges went on to manage his family’s car dealership in Bartelsville, Okla.
“Bill Doenges is one of those businessmen who understands the value of a 4-H experience,” said Jim Rutledge, former executive director for the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation.
Doenges has been a long-time supporter of the 4-H program. He has served on the board of directors for several years and, with the help of Tom Tate, began funding the Ira Hollar Advanced Leadership scholarship.
“Mr. Hollar represented 4-H leadership symbolically for us, so we chose to sponsor that award,” Doenges said.
Doenges and Tate co-funded the scholarship for many years. Doenges recently donated appreciated Ford Motor Company stock to fully fund the Ira Hollar Endowment. Rutledge said since Doenges used appreciated stock, he was able to benefit 4-H and receive a tax break.
“When he created an endowment to fund the Hollar Scholarship, he gave a tribute to someone who was influential throughout his 4-H career,” Rutledge said.
Doenges’ faithful support has given many 4-H’ers the opportunity to pursue higher education and achieve successful 4-H careers of their own.
“He has become very influential in the lives of many past and future 4-H members,” Rutledge said. “It has been a pleasure for me to get to know Bill as a donor and friend.”
Doenges said he is thankful for the impact 4-H has had in his life.
“I owe so much to 4-H,” he said. “When I look back, I realize I’ve learned so much. It was special.”
Photo provided by Bill Doenges