(Reuters) – Curtis Mewbourne, founder of one of the largest closely held oil companies in the United States, died on Thursday at the age of 86.
His company, Mewbourne Oil Co., operates more than 2,100 oil and gas wells in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, with a workforce of about 400 people, according to its website.
Mewbourne founded the company in 1965 and has grown it over the years into one of the most active drillers in the Delaware portion of the Permian, the best shale field in the United States. The Tyler, Texas-based company has long been considered a hot acquisition because of its holdings there.
“Few people have had the opportunity to reach the level of success,” said Todd Staples, president of the trade association Texas Oil and Gas Association. Mewbourne displayed a “drive for excellence in all his endeavours, and his passion was contagious,” Staples said. .
Mewbourne graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in petroleum engineering. For his contributions over the years the school awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and in 2007 named the Mewbourne College of Earth & Energy for him.
After graduating in 1957, Mewbourne spent a brief period as an officer in the United States Army and later joined First National Bank in Dallas, Texas, before starting Mewbourne Oil.
He died at his home in Tyler surrounded by his wife Joanne and family members. A memorial service is scheduled for Monday, following a private burial, according to the Stewart family funeral home.
(Reporting by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Stephen Coates)