DALLAS (AP) – William Alvin Moncrief Jr., a Texas savage who helped build a father-son business in an oil and gas empire for more than 70 years in the industry, has passed away. He was 101 years old.
A spokeswoman for Moncrief Oil confirmed his death to The Associated Press on Wednesday but was unable to provide further details immediately.
Moncrief, nicknamed “Tex,” was born in Arkansas in 1920 on his family’s kitchen table, according to Texas monthly. His father, William Alvin “Monty” Moncrief, was among the first savages to drill for oil in East Texas.
The young Moncrief spent his life building on this tradition, acquiring a fortune that earned him a reputation as a generous philanthropist but also caught the attention of the tax authorities.
At the age of 10, Moncrief saw his father open a “gusher” oil well in Greggton, 206 kilometers east of Dallas. People who gathered to watch the drilling and were initially disappointed when the well only pushed out muddy water, the young Moncrief told the Longview News-Journal Last year.
But then, “it took off about 90 to 100 feet,” he recalls. “When it took off from 100 feet, it produced solid oil.”
As a young man, Moncrief considered dropping out of school to pursue a career as a golfer. But his father dissuaded him and he graduated from the University of Texas in 1942 with a degree in petroleum engineering.
After the United States entered World War II, Moncrief enlisted and served as a naval officer in the Pacific. Upon his return to Texas, he went into business with his father, and the couple acquired significant oil and gas prospects across the country.
Moncrief is part of a generation of tycoons who built the Texas oil and gas industry, including Sid Richardson, Cary Maguire and Ed Cox, according to Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Their names also now appear on civic and medical institutions in the Dallas-Forth Worth area through their philanthropy.
“Along with Tex and the other legendary types of wildcatters, they were trailblazers in the sense that they really didn’t believe in big business. They believed in small sole proprietorships, if you will, which meant they were taking huge risks, ”Bullock told the AP on Wednesday. “There aren’t many people like that around here anymore.”
Forbes magazine named Moncrief to its billionaire list in 2006 and put his net worth at $ 1 billion in 2014, writing that the greatest discovery of his career came four years earlier with the discovery of the deep-water gas reserves off the coast of Louisiana, which became known as the “Davy Jones” field.
In 1994, Moncrief’s fortune attracted the attention of the tax authorities. Internal Revenue Service agents raided his Fort Worth offices and later accused his family and business of stealing more than $ 100 million in taxes from the government. Moncrief ultimately argued arguably for a tax lawsuit, paying the IRS $ 23 million but denouncing the agency’s aggressive tactics.
Moncrief was a major donor to Texas Christian University, University of Texas, and UT Southwestern Medical Center, where a Fort Worth medical complex and cancer center is named after him. He also served on the University of Texas system board.
State Representative Charlie Geren, a Republican from Fort Worth, said Moncrief’s philanthropy improved many lives.
“He was an incredibly generous man and a true legend in the Texas oil and gas industry,” said Geren.