Hiawatha Thompson Estes
1918 - 2003
Hiawatha Thompson Estes was an architect and founder of the Nationwide House Plan Book Company, later known as Hiawatha Estes and Associates. A nephew of Mary “Te Ata” Thompson Fisher, Estes was born in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, and formed a close relationship with his famous aunt. He attended the University of Oklahoma and played in the Pride of Oklahoma marching band, graduating in 1940.
Estes served in the U.S. Army Air Corps 37th Fighter Squadron during World War II, attaining the rank of captain. Following the war, he moved to California and started his business in designing modern homes. Estes’ inexpensive, practical designs were featured in newspapers across the country, showcasing to millions of Americans the newest trends in home building. His designs incorporated the rapid changes occurring in U.S. households, including the increased use of air conditioning, homes centered on privacy and watching television instead of hosting guests.
Estes was known for continuously working toward his goals, earning him the nickname, “roadrunner,” from his aunt, Te Ata. While his home designs resonated with modern Americans, he focused on giving back to his alma mater, becoming a founding member of OU’s President’s Associates. He financially supported more than 75 university scholarships, including establishing the Hiawatha Estes Pride of Oklahoma Scholarship to aid music students. He was awarded the OU Regents Alumni Award in 2002 for outstanding service and contributions to the university. A courtyard at OU’s Catlett Music Center named in Estes’ honor was landscaped with his assistance to provide a quiet place for students.
Estes passed away in 2003, leaving an enduring legacy at the University of Oklahoma and in neighborhoods around the country.