America lost a great man this week.
The Dallas Morning News reported that wealthy oil tycoon, financier, and generous philanthropist T. Boone Pickens passed away at his home in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday. He was 91.
Oil mogul dead at 91
According to The Dallas Morning News, Pickens died peacefully of natural causes, concluding a rough final few years for the oil mogul that included a series of small strokes in 2016 and a serious fall in 2017 that put him in the hospital and out of the public eye for some time as he recovered.
Pickens is survived by his five children, 11 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service is scheduled for next week at Pickens’ home church. He will be buried at his beloved alma mater, Oklahoma State University (OSU) — specifically, at the Karsten Creek Golf Club, where the OSU golf team plays.
Rising the ranks
Pickens was born near the start of the Great Depression in the small eastern Oklahoma town of Holdenville, where he revealed his business acumen early on when he took a job as a newspaper delivery boy. He expanded his “operation” by acquiring other delivery routes that surrounded his, according to the Morning News, ultimately making some serious money for a young kid at that time — roughly $38 per month.
After first enrolling at Texas A&M, Pickens transferred to Oklahoma State University — then known as Oklahoma A&M — after he lost a basketball scholarship. Working as a roughneck on an oil field while attending school, he ended up graduating from OSU with a degree in geology in 1951 and entered the oil industry, creating what ultimately became one of the largest energy producers in the country: Mesa Petroleum.
In the 1980s, Pickens shifted slightly from his focus on energy production and became something of a “corporate raider” by acquiring other businesses, making friends and enemies and becoming a billionaire somewhere along the way.
A lifetime of genorosity
Pickens was not a billionaire when he died, however. He died with an estimated wealth around $500 million — but that wasn’t due to any bad business decisions or economic hardships.
Rather, Pickens had made it point to give away his fortunes. He reportedly donated more than $1 billion throughout his life, the bulk of which went to OSU.
Pickens also used his wealth to help the GOP. He supported former President Ronald Reagan in 1980, and donated $10 million to help underwrite part of Reagan’s presidential library. Pickens also supported former President George W. Bush and provided the funding behind the infamous “Swift Boat Veteran” ad campaign against Bush’s 2004 challenger, John Kerry.
T. Boone Pickens was a great man who made a great fortune and then did even greater things with it. His generosity will be sorely missed.