When most people pass away, that sad event does not make the first page of any newspaper. But for some oil and gas industry icons, their passing does. I call these people the first-page men. The late T. Boone Pickens was one. George Mitchell, the father of fracking in shales, was another. Michel Halbouty, credited with discovering 50 fields and twice declaring bankruptcy only to stage comebacks, was another.

These men were wildcatters who seemed larger than life because they made such a significant impact on the industry they loved and on their communities, and they enjoyed long, energetic careers full of ups and downs and controversies—and often, expensive forays outside the oil and gas industry into ranching, banking, politics and pursuits such as winemaking and horse racing.

We are prone to say we’ll never see their likes again, but I think that isn’t true. Just as the oil and gas industry constantly renews itself by applying new technologies and adopting new thinking, enabling companies to revive plays, so does the inner circle of industry icons expand. No doubt you can name some of the leaders working today who will be remembered and become known as the iconic CEOs of this era.

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