Obituary of Sheldon Detrick
“I’m not in the real estate business, I am in the people business” wasn’t just a quote for “Shel” Detrick, it was his way of life.
Herschel Sheldon “Shel” Detrick was born on May 18, 1936, in Columbus, Indiana. His earliest memories of life centered around the small town of Clay City, Indiana, but life soon moved him west to Oklahoma.
Detrick attended Rogers High School in Tulsa and graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1959. While at OSU, he pledged Sigma Chi Fraternity, a decision that impacted the rest of his life. He was a lifelong Sigma Chi who served for decades at local, regional and national levels.
After graduating in 1960, Detrick began his real estate career as a sales associate with Hughes & Jones, Realtors in Tulsa. He may have gained an edge there considering he married the owner’s daughter. Shel and Jan (Jones) Detrick enjoyed 63-years of marriage.
Detrick found his passion in real estate. He moved quickly from sales associate to owner. In 1969 he started his own brokerage company, Detrick, Realtors. Over the next 11 years, Detrick, Realtors grew to become the largest real estate company in Tulsa with 240 sales associates and a 20% market share. In 1980, Detrick Realty sold to Merrill Lynch, and Detrick spent the next three years as the company CEO.
Detrick eventually departed from Merrill Lynch and pursued several different ventures: he sat on the Board of Directors and chaired the Loan Committee for the newly founded Tulsa National Bank in1983; he was appointed to the inaugural Oklahoma Racing Commission by Oklahoma Governor George Nigh; he served on the Business Round Table in Washington, D.C., as well as President Nixon’s Commission on Gaming Policy.
But the 1990s brought Detrick’s return to the real estate brokerage business. He acquired The Prudential Properties of Oklahoma, which is especially significant as this company was, in effect, his “old” company that he previously sold to Merrill Lynch in the early 80’s. Out of this, he grew to love building companies and expanded across state lines through further purchase of real estate companies in Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and San Antonio. He later added Gibraltar Title Company and Santa Fe Mortgage Company.
With his banner of the “people business”—championing personal relationships with employees, consumers, and competitors alike—Detrick fostered a culture for successful real estate business in Tulsa and beyond: a positive effect that will ripple for years to come.
Detrick leaves behind his mark not just in business, but also with his college and fraternity. In 1990, Oklahoma State University named him “distinguished alumnus.” As a passionate OSU fan, Shel frequently attended Cowboy sporting events and was greatly involved in the development of Gallagher Iba Arena’s Spirit Rider bronze.
Detrick’s visits to Stillwater, Oklahoma also centered heavily around the Gamma Delta Chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. There, he served on the House Corporation for 25 years, leading efforts to construct a new fraternity house in 1980. Nationally, Sigma Chi deemed him Significant Sig and welcomed him into the prestigious Order of Constantine. Even in his older years, Detrick devoted numerous hours to help undergraduate members find themselves professionally. Detrick loved Sigma Chi his entire life.
Though a lifelong Tulsan, Detrick never forgot his ‘Indiana roots’ every Memorial Weekend, attending nearly 60-consecutive Indianapolis 500 races. He even spent a decade working as a USAC Technician, working behind the pit walls at Indy Racing League races across the country.
Detrick also maintained his passion for the West as a member of Racheros Vistadores and El Viaje de Portola in California.
Nobody in Detrick’s circle was able to ignore his “die-hard” obsession with Chicago Cubs baseball, nor miss his delight to see his Cubs end a 107-year World Series drought in 2016.
Shel Detrick is survived by his wife Jan of 63-years, his daughter Diana (Detrick) Medders and son-in-law Jeff Medders, his grandchildren Morgan Medders, Mackenzie Medders, Madi (Medders) Fielder and her husband Trevor Fielder and Meg Medders.
In Hoc! Go Pokes! Go Cubbies!
Ninde Brookside, 918-742-5556, www.ninde.com