The Symcox Family
Giving Through the Generations
When Lee Symcox speaks to his employees about giving to the United Way, he is not only speaking from the heart. He’s speaking from a lifetime of experience.
Symcox started early, volunteering with his dad and his grandfather while in junior high school in Norman. He remembers working on the annual United Way campaigns, riding around town, updating the iconic thermometer signs which have served for years as status reports for the Norman community.
As the campaigns progressed toward their goals, Symcox would help color the red lines higher and higher up the thermometers until they finally reached the top, letting everyone know they had reached their objective.
Those days were the beginning of a life-long commitment that carried from his days working part time at the family-owned City National Bank in Norman to his current post as the chief executive of First Fidelity Bank in Oklahoma City.
Lee Symcox followed in the footsteps of his father, Don Symcox, and his grandfather, J.R. Symcox, both avid supporters of the United Way. He still remembers early in his career, signing up for automatic payroll deduction. It was 1979, and he has been giving ever since.
The United Way of Central Oklahoma continues to be an important focus for the Symcox family. Lee’s wife, Suzie, is a United Way volunteer along with their son, John, and daughter, Lauren Symcox Voth.
For Symcox, the United Way of Central Oklahoma is more than a lifelong commitment and a family tradition. It is a sound and reliable investment in the community.
That’s a conclusion the banker has reached through many years of service on the United Way’s board of directors. He has also served as treasurer, and member of the allocation committee and campaign cabinet.
Symcox said the United Way of Central Oklahoma is managed locally by people who have control over how the funds are used, and there are local checks and balances to ensure the right people are served, he said.
When Symcox talks to his employees about the United Way, he focuses on all its partner agencies.
“It’s hard not to feel really good about all of those agencies,” he said.
Symcox also likes the way the agency identifies and responds to community needs. Social problems are continually evolving, and the United Way of Central Oklahoma monitors those concerns as they emerge, then targets funding where it’s needed most.
The United Way is forward-looking in other ways, such as the development of young leaders through its Board Serve program, Symcox said.
Under the program, the agency works to improve nonprofit boards by recruiting, training and matching board members with nonprofit agencies in the central Oklahoma area. In fact, Lee’s son, John, is a graduate of the Board Serve program and is board chair-elect for Partner Agency Upward Transitions.
“They train young people how to be good board members for their agencies,” Symcox said. “This pipeline of young people they are developing is phenomenal.”
“Eventually, it’s going to put me out of a job,” he said.