Internationally famed geologist, entrepreneur and philanthropist T. Boone Pickens, an AAPG Foundation Trustee Associate whose business strategies brought notoriety far beyond the world of oil and gas, died Sept. 11 at his home in Dallas. He was 91.
An AAPG Member since 1954 and a Trustee Associate since 1979, Pickens in 2009 was awarded the L. Austin Weeks Memorial Medal, the AAPG Foundation’s highest honor.
Tributes, as well as less-flattering comments, were issued around the world upon news of his passing. Pickens was known as corporate raider who changed the face and nature of the business world; a defender of shareholder rights; a political dynamo whose causes changed over his career from populism to traditional conservatism; a daring entrepreneur who made, lost and remade fortunes; and as an energy visionary who pushed for energy self-sufficiency by making natural gas, wind power and solar energy the keys to American energy independence.
Each of the descriptors earned passionate opinions from both supporters and detractors.
He also was a generous philanthropist: “For most of my adult life, I’ve believed that I was put on Earth to make money and be generous with it,” he wrote shortly before his death. “I’ve never been a fan of inherited wealth.”
“I liked knowing that I helped a lot of people,” he added.
For the AAPG Foundation, Pickens’ philanthropic zenith came in 2008 when he made a multimillion-dollar donation to develop a geographic information system digital geology consortium between AAPG and Pickens’ beloved alma mater, Oklahoma State University.
The gift created a first-of-its-kind consortium, designed to produce digital GIS products through OSU’s geology and geography department and be made available to professionals and the public via AAPG’s intranet database.
It was one of the largest single bequeathals the AAPG Foundation had ever received.
Pickens was awarded the Weeks Memorial Medal the following year, receiving the honor at the 2009 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in Denver. He also was the speaker for the All-Convention Luncheon that year, drawing a large crowd,
He became a member of the Foundation Legacy Society in 2011.