Charles Dennis Cresap was born on October 20, 1934 in the Michael Reese Hospital and grew up in the bustling city of Chicago, Illinois. His father, Charles LaVurn, was a cattle buyer for Armor and Company and his mother, Gwen, was a housewife raising their two boys, Denny and his brother Keith, four years his junior. His freshman year, he began attending Morgan Park Military Academy, a prominent school in Chicago. He attended Morgan Park through high school. After his graduation in 1952 Denny joined the family in Vinita, Oklahoma. Denny went on to attend Oklahoma University in 1952 in Norman, Oklahoma where he pledged Phi Gamma Delta during his freshman year and is still honored to be a member of that fraternity. Denny proudly served three years in the US Army where a majority of his enlisted time was spent in Frankfurt, Germany, obtaining the rank of Sergeant 1st Class. Upon discharge from the Army on January 12, 1959, he returned to Vinita. There he met his wife to be, Diana Gail Campbell, or Gail as she is called. They were married November 26, 1960 and settled in Tulsa, then moving to Oklahoma City in 1962.
Oklahoman’s voted for the legalization of retail liquor stores in 1959, a very important year for the industry. Denny took a job with National Distillers and Chemical Corporation in 1959 and worked as a sales representative until 1962 when he became State Manager of Oklahoma in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. In 1964, Denny decided to pursue another opportunity and purchased a Ford Dealership in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Their son John Dennis Cresap was born August 17, 1964 at the Baptist Hospital in Oklahoma City. The Cresaps sold the Ford Dealership in 1969. Change is inevitable and in 1968 Denny and Gail purchased a small Anheuser Busch Distributorship and moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma. They serviced only two and a half counties selling approximately 20,000 cases of beer annually. After a number of years and several acquisitions, Premium Beers, LLC moved its headquarters to Oklahoma City and was delivering product in all or parts of 58 counties. By that time their son John had become an integral part of the company. All that said, the family sold Premium Beers, LLC to Anheuser Busch, Inc. and that sale was completed on December 31, 2011. It was certainly a success story, when the company sold, the beer sales were over 10 million cases annually. The Cresaps had brought the company up to one of the top 25 distributorships in the country out of approximately 600 total Anheuser Busch distributorships. Hard work and dedication almost always pay off and it certainly did here for the Cresap family.
The Home of Hope Directors Choice Award was presented to Denny and Gail in 2011 for their involvement and financial assistance with their program. Home of Hope serves over 250 special needs individuals in Craig, Delaware and Rogers Counties. In June 2016, Denny was contacted by the board of trustees of Morgan Park Academy requesting his attendance to their one hundred forty-third Commencement. He, Gail and John went to Chicago and there he accepted the Duchossois Integrity and Values Alumni Award. Denny also gave a speech to the 2016 graduating class of Morgan Park Academy. He is an inspiration to all that know him. He has always strived for excellence and it has bought him great self-satisfaction. Denny, at the encouragement of his family, wrote a 324-page book about his life. It is an outstanding collection of photos and written memories, certainly worth the read. He has begun a housing development project on Grand Lake. It will be a premier development on one of the prettiest, most prominent points on Grand Lake. It features nine spectacular lots. This won’t be his last project – this man does not tire.
Denny is generous with his time and is a member of Gilcrease Museum, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Ocean Reef Club, Prix de West of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Arrowhead and Cherokee Yacht Clubs. His past civic engagements include Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, served on the board of the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce, also served on the board of the Pawhuska Rotary Club, President of the Pawhuska Country Club, Beer Distributors of Oklahoma, Anheuser Busch Wholesalers Advisory Panel and was Commodore at Grand Lake’s Cherokee Yacht Club. In 2015, Denny and Gail were awarded Citizens of the Year for Vinita, Oklahoma. In November 2018, Denny and Gail were the recipients of the South Grand Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Grand Laker of the Year. This was an investment of their time and funds in various educational and charitable projects in the Grand Lake Area.
The name of Denny’s book is “Making Friends was My Business”. It was a true statement as a young man staring out in business and has remained his motto throughout his life. And making friends is still his business!