Famed oilman, billionaire and OSU booster T. Boone Pickens has died, according to multiple news reports. He was 91.
Pickens donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Oklahoma State University athletics programs, and he spearheaded an initiative beginning in 2008 called “The Pickens Plan” that asked politicians and others to support American energy independence through a shift to natural gas power while developing wind and solar efforts.
Pickens considered himself an entrepreneur, establishing BP Capital in 1997 and the T. Boone Pickens Foundation in 2006.
From his personal website:
“Entrepreneurs search for — and create — value,” Pickens wrote in Boone Pickens: the Luckiest Guy in the World. “That underlying value is what my life is all about — whether the focus is the energy business or some other endeavor. Today, we enjoy a robust economy and significant shareholders’ say in the companies they own. Takeovers, solicited or otherwise, have become an accepted business practice; today, the Business Roundtable does not attack the acquirers, win or lose. Countless gambles played a part in bringing that combination together. Our role in the journey was worth the risks.”
Pickens donated heavily to Oklahoma State University, and its president said Pickens lived an “incredible life” in a statement released this afternoon.
“All of us in the Oklahoma State University family are deeply saddened by the passing of Boone Pickens. At the same time, we join in celebrating his incredible life. He was the ultimate Cowboy,” said Burns Hargis. “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. OSU will not be the same without the legendary Boone Pickens, but his mark on our university will last forever.”
From Holdenville to Boone Pickens Stadium
Pickens’ journey began in Holdenville, the seat of Hughes County in southeastern Oklahoma. He attended OSU but ultimately spent a great deal of his adult life in Texas where he owned a 68,000-acre ranch. He died today in his Dallas-area home.
In 2009, Pickens’ wife bought and moved his childhood home to the ranch from Holdenville. Pickens himself got crossways with the owner of his grandmother’s former house when the billionaire had a slab of sidewalk bearing his boyhood signature removed without authorization.
Pickens stayed on the cutting edge of technology late in his life, adopting Twitter and amassing more than 145,000 followers.
Pickens has five children and more than a dozen grandchildren, and he spoke openly on how he didn’t plan to hand any of them millions and millions of dollars.
“I tell my kids, I’ll help you, but if you want to get rich, you’re going to have to get rich on your own,” he told Yahoo Finance in May 2016.
A booster of Oklahoma State University athletics, Pickens gave the university a then-record $165 million gift in 2006. The school’s football stadium is named after him.
The Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents also released a statement Wednesday.
“We remember today the remarkable life of our alumnus Boone Pickens. His eternal optimism, kindness, and competitiveness inspired us always to reach higher. He never forgot his roots and his love for Oklahoma State University was incalculable,” the regents’ statement said. “We will be forever thankful to Boone Pickens for his big ideas, bold vision, and unshakable spirit. There is no question that Boone Pickens put the “Bright” in America’s Brightest Orange.”
The regents said a public “celebration of life” event will be held in Stillwater at Gallagher-Iba Arena, but a date is to be determined.
(Update: This post was updated at 1:50 p.m. to add comment from Burns Hargis and at 2 p.m. to add comment from the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents.)