The Cresap Foundation Supports Counties across Oklahoma
Funding preference will be given to organizations in those counties where Premium Beers operated, including, and without limitation, Oklahoma Canadian, Grady, Cleveland, Logan, Pottawatomie, Lincoln and the following counties on Northeast Oklahoma: Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, Osage, Ottawa and Washington. This is a strong preference but is not mandatory.
to help the communities who supported their business for 44 years.
The counties highlighted blue have received funding form the Cresap Family Foundation.
John was born August 1964 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to his proud parents, Gail and Denny Cresap. He spent his very young years in Pawhuska, Oklahoma before the family moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma where he completed his education at Sooner High School in 1982. During his high school years, John worked in the family business, Premium Beers, delivering Anheuser Busch product in and around the Grand Lake area. A pretty popular gig for a young man. From there, John attended the College of Santa Fe, graduating with honors and receiving a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree. A degree that would prove to be very useful in the coming years.
After graduation, John took a position with The Anheuser Busch Branch Distributorship in Denver, Colorado. There he was responsible for Special Events in their On-Premise Department as well as selling their Master Cellars wine, all the while promoting and learning as much as possible about their products and how to put on a successful event. It wasn’t long before John was asked to join the family operation on a permanent basis. At the age of 24, John was given the opportunity to oversee all aspects of the Ardmore operation as Branch Manager for Red River Distributing and soon after to include Branch Manager for their Lawton operation, as well.
In October 1999, the Cresap family acquired the Oklahoma City area and considerably increased their territory in Oklahoma. Also, at this time, John became President of Premium Beers, LLC – a huge step in responsibility. Under John’s leadership, additional acquisitions were made; the purchase of Clinton, then Altus and lastly, Guthrie territories were added. These additions increased their delivery territory to 27 counties in Oklahoma. He was now controlling the largest distributorship in the state of Oklahoma and had become one of the Anheuser-Busch Breweries top 15 wholesalers in the nation. Quite an accomplishment.
After a tremendously successful run in the beer business, John and his family sold Premium Beers of Oklahoma to Anheuser-Busch Brewery, St. Louis, Missouri, on December 31, 2011. This was the end of one legacy and the beginning of another. John was ready to pursue his ultimate dream of traveling the world and his passion for philanthropy. He wanted to help improve the quality of life for Oklahomans.
The Cresap Family Foundation was established in 2012. Since its inception, and under John’s direction, the Foundation has provided grant assistance and created new opportunities for over 100 nonprofit organizations that provide service in the areas of youth and families, health and wellness, education, arts and humanities and animal welfare groups. John is always mindful of the communities that contributed to the success of their beer distributorship and thus far, organizations in 14 counties that were serviced by Premium Beers of Oklahoma have received over $7.5 million in grant funding. Through his travels, John has also identified and supported many youth educational charities in countries such as New Zealand, Cuba, Kenya, Rwanda, Antarctica, and the Caribbean Islands. John considers giving through the foundation an integral part of his life.
Currently, John serves as President and CEO of Cresap Capital where he is responsible for administering the overall direction of the services provided by his company. When time allows, John immerses himself in hobbies like travel, scuba diving, hot air ballooning, boating, and collecting art and artifacts from countries he has visited. He and his life partner, Cody Sutton, are devoted pet owners and enjoy the company of their two Bernese Mountain dogs, Jackson and Finnegan. John has a gift for making friends and any that know him as friend, know that friendship will last for a lifetime.
Charles (Denny) 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 for over 26 years. 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.
Oklahomans 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 in northeast Oklahoma and several acquisitions in other parts of Oklahoma, Premium Beers moved its headquarters to Oklahoma City and was delivering product in all or parts of 27 counties. By that time their son John had become an integral part of the company. All that said, the family sold Premium Beers 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 Cresap’s had brought the company up to one of the top 15 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. Soon after the sale of Premium Beers to Anheuser Busch, St. Louis, Missouri, the family started their newest endeavor, Cresap Family Foundation.
The Home of Hope Directors Choice Award was presented to Denny and Gail in 2011 for their involvement and financial assistant 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 brought 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, National Ranching Heritage Center, 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 as treasurer 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. 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 starting out in business and has remained his motto throughout his life. And making friends is still his business!
Gail Cresap was born and raised in Vinita, Oklahoma. After graduating from Vinita High School she attended William Woods College for Women in Fulton, Missouri. After her marriage to Denny Cresap they purchased a Ford Dealership in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. There they had their first and only child, John. Gail worked side by side with her husband in the dealership for five years. Then came the purchase of a fledgling company, an Anheuser Busch distributorship, located in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Gail was the office and warehouse manager for the next ten years. Due to the success of their company she was able to leave those duties and take a big leap forward to pursue her own interests.
Gail started and ran the day to day operation of Grand Lake Alpacas, a million dollar plus operation. She raised and showed prize winning alpacas and won many blue ribbons and national awards. Gail was very instrumental in starting the PAAS, Peaceful Animal Adoption Shelter, a no-kill shelter located in Vinita Oklahoma. It has become a national success. They transport animals to different states that want dogs and cats and have to-date transported over 5000 animals to welcoming homes. Also a very fulfilling project, Gail started a program in the Vinita Public Schools, Adventure Academy. It’s a summer program designed to help a select group of underprivileged boys and girls. They may be reading impaired or have other subjects that they have fallen behind in during the normal school year. They are exposed to many things that may not have been available to them otherwise. For example, field trips outside the Vinita area. Gail’s foundation provides all of this at no cost to the school system or the child. She continues to oversee the management of her ranch, Big Creek Ranch, located near Lenapah, Oklahoma. There she has a large cow /calf operation.
Gail is involved in numerous organizations such as Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, American Quarter Horse Association, Ranching Heritage Association, the Annie Oakley Society, Prix de West, Cherokee Yacht Club, Ocean Reef Club, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Gilcrease Museum and the Cresap Family Foundation.
She understands this life lesson, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain”. Keeping these words in mind she lives her life accordingly. Gail continues to be a positive influence for others. She has made huge accomplishments and continues to give back to her fellow man and animal in a big way.