Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Oil tycoon and billionaire T. Boone Pickens passed away Wednesday at the age of 91 at his Dallas home under hospice care, surrounded by his family and friends. "He was successful, and more importantly, he generously shared his success with institutions and communities across Texas and Oklahoma," Former President George W. Bush commented, adding that "Laura and I send our condolences."
He was born in 1928 in Holdenville, Oklahoma and was raised during the Depression. Though only 5'8," he was a star on the high school basketball team when his family lived in Amarillo, Texas. He lost his scholarship to Texas A&M when he broke his elbow, so he transferred to Oklahoma A&M, now Oklahoma State, where he graduated with a degree in geology.
Known in his younger years as a maverick that would take on oil-industry giants, Pickens later would attain more riches through Wall Street. Pickens also would later endorse alternative fuels, especially wind energy, but he could not duplicate his oil riches. In 2009, he scrapped plans for a huge Texas wind farm after running into difficulty getting transmission lines approved. "It doesn't mean that wind is dead," Pickens said at the time.
In 2007, Forbes magazine estimated Pickens' net worth at $3 billion. He eventually slid below $1 billion and off the magazine's list of wealthiest Americans. In 2016, the magazine put his worth at $500 million. Pickens made huge donations to his alma mater, Oklahoma State University — the football stadium bears his name, and he gave $100 million for endowed faculty positions. "It is impossible to calculate his full impact on Oklahoma State. His historic gifts to academics and athletics not only transformed the university, they inspired thousands of others to join in the transformation," President Burns Hargis said in a statement.
See T. Boone Pickens, Oilman and Renewables Advocate, Dies at 91, New York Times, September 11, 2019.