Toby Keith, the country music superstar who passed away in February, posthumously received an honorary degree from his beloved University of Oklahoma.

In April, OU announced Keith would be one of four honorary degree recipients “in recognition of their extraordinary achievements and generous service to others.”

Others receiving the honor included Barbara Ann Posey Jones of Atlanta, a distinguished educator, economist and activist whose participation in the Oklahoma City sit-ins helped in the desegregation of many public establishments across the country; Tom E. Love, founder of Love’s Travel Shops; and David Proctor of Dallas, a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient for his work on the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 spacecraft missions. Love was also honored posthumously.

The university conferred the honorary degrees during 2024 commencement. Love and Jones were honored during a ceremony Friday, while Keith and Proctor were honored Saturday, May 11. Both ceremonies took place at Lloyd Noble Center on campus in Norman.

The Clinton, Okla., native’s illustrious career in country music career included more than 10 billion streams and 44 million albums sold. He was inducted into the New York-based all-genre Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the BMI Icon award and was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame shortly before he died.

The late country singer’s Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic, launched in 2004, helped raise a total of $18 million for nonprofits, including OK Kids Korral, a cost-free home for children and families seeking treatment for life-threatening illnesses. Along with his wife Tricia, Keith was also a longtime supporter of OU athletics.

Keith, who was battling stomach cancer, died on Feb. 5, surrounded by his family, according to a statement posted on the country singer’s website. He was diagnosed in 2022.

“Sometimes a polarizing figure in country music, the 6-foot-4 singer broke out in the country boom years of the 1990s, crafting an identity around his macho, pro-American swagger and writing songs that fans loved to hear,” The Associated Press reported. “Over his career he publicly clashed with other celebrities and journalists and often pushed back against record executives who wanted to smooth his rough edges.”

Keith’s biggest hits include “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” “How Do You Like Me Now?!,” “Beer for My Horses” and “As Good as I Once Was.”

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