Curtis Mewbourne, Texas oil legend and founder of Mewbourne Oil Co., died on June 23 at age 86.

Mewbourne founded his company in 1965 and grew it over the years into one of the largest closely held oil companies in the U.S. focused in the Permian and Anadarko basins. Headquartered in Tyler, Texas, Mewbourne Oil operates over 2,100 wells in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico with a staff of about 400 people, according to its website.Hart Energy June 2022 - Curtis Mewbourne obituary headshot

In recognition of his service and achievements, Mewbourne was recognized with the Distinguished Service award by the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA), the Top Hand award by the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, and the Trailblazer award by the University of Oklahoma, where he was also awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in 2002.

“Few individuals have had the opportunity to achieve the level of success of Curtis Mewbourne. Part of his success was his desire to maintain high standards in the oil and natural gas industry and to work for a better and stronger Texas and America,” TXOGA President Todd Staples said in a statement.

“This industry and our world are truly better because of his life well lived,” Staples added of Mewbourne.

Mewbourne graduated from Oklahoma University with a degree in petroleum engineering in 1957.

In recognition of his longtime support, the University of Oklahoma named the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering in his honor in May 2000. In November 2007, the Mewbourne College of Earth & Energy was named in his honor and he was given the Trailblazer Award for his professional achievements and lifetime commitment to the energy center.

After graduation, Mewbourne served as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army as part of the Honor Guard at Arlington National Cemetery while stationed at Fort Myer.

He began his career in oil and gas following his service, initially with Arkansas Fuel Oil Co. in Shreveport, La. He later worked with the First National Bank in Dallas, which he left to start Mewbourne Oil.

According to his obituary, Mewbourne’s initial assets were “two used chairs and a desk given by his former employer, Bobby Stewart, the balance of a monthly paycheck, and one very dedicated and tenacious employee who had to use the payphone in the lobby to make calls.”

He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Joanne and family members. A memorial service is planned for June 27, following a private burial, according to the Stewart Family Funeral Home.