Flowers and Philanthropy 2

Voskuhl-Staab Family Tends a Midtown Garden Oasis while Growing the Community

Alan Staab and Sharon Voskuhl have lived in the Forest Hills neighborhood near Utica Square for 28 years. And you can tell this couple truly enjoys each other’s company. He beams and listens intently whenever she speaks and she waits for the right moment to finish his sentence when he searches for the right word.

They met at the University of Oklahoma when they were pursuing their MBAs in chemical engineering. They married in 1987 and settled in Tulsa to raise their family. As the family grew, they looked for a larger home in the same area.

Voskuhl had always loved the house a few blocks away from their first home but the price was always out of reach. But when it later listed for a lower price, they scooped it up. That was 23 years ago. In that time, they endured a lengthy two-story addition project and created a backyard oasis for their sons, Blaise, Zane, Alec, and foster son Mike’quan.

Voskuhl says, “We thought it would be a great place for our boys to run the creek and have a great time. They love following the creek up to Lewis and always wanted to take a raft to the Arkansas River. They never did, but they are still talking about it and they’re in their 20s!”

The Tulsa Garden Club recently showcased the couple’s private garden in its 66th annual garden tour.

A statue of Mary welcomes guests to the garden with a relaxing water feature through the wrought iron gate entrance and into a sanctuary of chirping birds, grassy lawns, and a babbling creek. Cross over the quaint wooden bridge and you’ll find yourself in an oasis miles away from the stress of the city.

The home’s antique brick facade serves as a lovely contrast to the bright chartreuse landscape, tall pine trees, and thoughtful plantings offering pops of color everywhere. They matched the stone creek wall with hardscapes to create walls, flower beds, custom spa, and multiple patios.

The colonial-style gazebo with a massive native stone fireplace sits above the rolling garden like a sentinel. It has an intricate stone tile floor and a relaxing seating area including a cozy porch swing. Wildlife abounds including owls, fox, ducks, bunnies, and the occasional snake. The garden is a wonderful venue for outdoor parties and functions.

“We’ve had a lot of prom photos taken in our backyard,” says Staab.

Investments in real estate and natural gas ventures have afforded the couple the opportunity to do what they really love—improve the community.

Both are active on several boards and are passionate about education. They support the Vocal Music and Robotics programs at Memorial High School and have been involved with Celebrate Cascia, Cascia Christmas Walk, Oktoberfest, Catholic Charities, and all areas of education including private and public schools.

Last year, the couple donated money for a subscription for the first three years of the Sway Concussion Management Balance System to Tulsa Public Schools. The Sway system can diagnose a concussion on the spot with an iPad or iPhone. Steve Friebus, TPS athletic director, is responsible for the implementation of the program and it excited Voskuhl and Staab.

“Even though we don’t have kids in TPS now, the subscription will serve all the kids in sports at all Tulsa Public High Schools. They do a base line test at the beginning of the school year. If a student is hurt, they can take a test on the field to determine if they need to sit out. As parents, we thought it was a really great program,” says Voskuhl.

Staab is an original board member of San Miguel Tulsa. Opened in 2004, San Miguel works to close the education gap of middle school students that are far behind their grade level.

“Four of the original 18 eighth graders have graduated from college, including one with an engineering degree from the University of Tulsa. Kids have potential—you just have to be able to find it and develop it,” says Staab. “We are working on a new school called the Drexel Academy for kindergarten, first, and second grade. It will be a separate entity but will have some of the same advisors and financial sponsors. Work still needs to be done as far as location, but we hope to open it this fall.”

Another project close to Staab’s heart is the preservation of Oklahoma’s small colleges, in particular, St. Gregory’s Catholic University in Shawnee. The university is struggling to remain relevant and viable. Staab and other board members are developing a new strategic plan focused on nursing and potentially a new medical school.

He says, “We are also partnering with the Pottawattamie tribe to offer a college opportunity for some of their members. Those strategic alliances with Catholic hospitals in the state and with the tribes will help St. Gregory’s be around for another 100 years.”

With all that the couple has accomplished, Staab is stepping out into a new venture…politics. He will be the first to point out that he is a businessman, not a politician, but hopes if he becomes the State Senator for District 39, that his experience in business can make a difference in the State Capitol.

So, how does this busy couple relax? They say they go to a lot of basketball games and take long walks in the neighborhood.

And of course, there is the garden.