Philanthropist and Reagan Friend, T. Boone Pickens, Dead at 91
Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens died on Wednesday at his Texas home at the age of 91.
Pickens had been in declining health following series of strokes and a head injury sustained during a 2017 fall.
“In late 2017, he put his sprawling 100-square-mile Mesa Vista Ranch in the Texas Panhandle on the market for $250 million, and a few months later, he closed his energy hedge fund, BP Capital, to outside investors,” CNBC reported.
Pickens was a major Republican Party donor during his lifetime, strongly backing both Ronald Reagan’s presidential runs in the 1980s and George W. Bush’s gubernatorial and presidential campaigns in the 1990s and 2000s.
Pickens made his fortune in the oil business, founding Mesa Petroleum and acquiring multiple other oil companies on his way to becoming a multi-billionaire.
The Associated Press reported that Pickens signed the “giving pledge” started by billionaire investor Warren Buffet and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to donate the majority of his money to charity.
In 2007, Forbes estimated the Texan’s fortune at $3 billion, but by 2016 the publication said his net worth had dropped to $500 million.
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The philanthropist donated more than $1 billion during his lifetime, including to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
He also contributed $165 million to the athletic department of his alma mater, Oklahoma State University, for a stadium renovation, which the school then named in his honor.
In 2005, Pickens also donated $10 million to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California to underwrite the building of the facility’s Air Force One Pavilion, according to The Dallas Morning News.
“For President Reagan, he provided important leadership in the 1980 and 1984 election campaigns and provided wise counsel and unparalleled devotion to the missions of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute,” the statement read.
Bush, who like Pickens began his career in the oil business, described him in a statement on Wednesday as “bold, imaginative and daring.”
“He was successful — and more importantly, he generously shared his success with institutions and communities across Texas and Oklahoma,” Bush added. “He loved the outdoors, his country, and his friends and family, and Laura and I send our condolences.”
Pickens said on his website, “I firmly believe one of the reasons I was put on this Earth was to make money, and be generous with it.”
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