Eskridge Family Shares Longtime Commitment to Community, United Way
The Eskridge family has shared much through the years. Ed Eskridge, his wife, Barbara and their two children, Lynn and Frank, have shared the family businesses, their pride in Oklahoma City and their commitment to community for as long as they can remember.
Barbara Eskridge, who recently turned 90, said giving to the community has always been a family tradition, so it’s hard to recall exactly when they began supporting the United Way of Central Oklahoma, but it must have been around the time Ed opened the family’s first car dealership in 1952.
Ed, who passed away in 2010, developed a passion for automobiles while he was a teenager, working summers at the Oklahoma Hudson dealership in Automobile Alley on North Robinson near downtown Oklahoma City.
After college, he formed Eskridge-Wright Oldsmobile in Capitol Hill and operated the dealership for nearly 50 years. During that time, Ed opened three other dealerships and eventually introduced his two children, and later his grandchildren, to the automobile business. Through those years, the family’s commitment to the United Way only grew.
“We always felt like it was one of the top organizations to give to,” Barbara said. “There are so many organizations, but the United Way was able to ensure that all the services they were working with were viable and beneficial.”
In the late 1970s, the Eskridge family extended giving opportunities to employees at each of their dealerships, which included the Oldsmobile dealership as well as Oklahoma’s first Honda dealership in Oklahoma City, one of the nation’s first Lexus dealerships and a Chevrolet dealership in Guthrie, said Frank Eskridge, president of Eskridge Auto Group.
Lynn Eskridge Fielding, Eskridge Auto Group’s human resources director, said the United Way does a good job of bridging gaps that can develop among community services. They always ensure critical needs are met, and the organization has always done a good job of communicating with Eskridge employees.
Each year, United Way representatives come to the dealerships to talk about fundraising goals for that season’s campaign, and they talk about community needs, so everyone knows the role their financial support plays in helping neighbors.
She said they enjoy the United Way giving campaigns every year, coming up with events, activities, and rewards for the company’s 225 employees. They’ve included fitness challenges, walk-a-thon competitions, jeans day on United Friday and Paid Day Off drawings.
“We’re always trying to do different things to motivate people to give,” she said.
The Eskridge family’s support of United Way extends far beyond their workplace campaigns; it’s a value that has been passed down through three generations of their family. Barbara, her children Lynn, and Frank, as well as her granddaughter Kim Adkins, all generously contribute to the United Way as members of the Leadership Giving Society.