August 2011

‘Legendary’ oilman Cy Wagner dies

August 31, 2011

Mella McEwen | Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 8:28 pm

Longtime Midland oilman Cy Wagner Jr. died Tuesday in Midland at the age of 77.

His survivors include his wife, Lissa Noël Wagner and their five children. Funeral services are pending.

Born and raised in Tulsa, Wagner earned a degree in geology from the University of Oklahoma and developed an extensive background in geologic work in the Permian Basin. In 1962, he and Jack Brown famously formed Wagner & Brown Ltd. on nothing more than a handshake, building the company into a successful privately held independent exploration and production company.

“Cy has been my partner in business and my best friend for almost 50 years,” said Brown in a statement. “He was a very astute businessman who was always thinking and planning on the next move before we had completed the effort before us — a true visionary. He was an outstanding geologist and businessman who had the uncanny ability to combine his knowledge and insight in bringing so many successes to Wagner & Brown. His planning and efforts will continue to be the foundation blocks for the future of Wagner & Brown. My prayers and deep love go to Cy’s dear family and friends.”

State Rep. Tom Craddick said in a statement, “Nadine and I are devastated by Cy’s passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to Lissa and the entire family, including his devoted staff at Wagner and Brown who he considered his extended family.

“Not only have we lost a dear friend, but Midland and the West Texas area have lost the most generous and selfless man who served as an inspiration to all around him. Cy’s legacy will include his success in oil and gas exploration and production, how he educated generations about the business he loved, and his leadership that modeled best practices in the industry. Most notably his legacy will also include Cy’s philanthropic spirit and ability to inspire others to give that will live on in Midland College, the (Wagner Noel) Performing Arts Center, the Petroleum Museum, the Advanced Technology Center, the Center for Energy and Economic Development (CEED), and throughout our entire community. Cy will be missed, but never forgotten.”

Ben Shepperd, president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, commented, “Everybody in the PBPA family and the oil and gas industry are deeply saddened. Cy was a true legend in the oil and gas industry and in the Permian Basin. He will be deeply missed. Our thoughts go out to the family.”

In the mid-1980s, Wagner and Brown drew national attention when they invested in T. Boone Pickens Jr.’s bids to acquire Gulf Corp., Phillips Petroleum and Unocal Corp.

“Cy was certainly a legendary oilman,” Pickens said in a statement. “He and Jack Brown found a lot of oil. But he didn’t just make money; he was generous with it as well, and a significant giver to the University of Oklahoma.”

Officials at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin also mourned Wagner’s passing. Through endowed scholarships, building donations and other offerings, the Wagners helped raise the profile of the school. His vision for West Texas was “a major impetus behind the construction of the CEED building, which has brought in over $30 million in federal and state grants since it opened, and serves as an important unifying force for Midland and Odessa,” according to a press release from UTPB.

School officials also credit the Wagners for their leadership during the fundraising campaign for the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center.

UTPB President David Watts commented, “Cy Wagner was a giant in terms of his influence on West Texas. UTPB would not be the university it is today without the Wagner and Noel families’ generosity. The spirit of the entire region has been lifted and Midland and Odessa are miles closer because Cy Wagner saw opportunities for building positive change.”

Wagner served on the board of visitors for the International Programs Center at the University of Oklahoma and on the Development Board of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

The business partners were named to the Petroleum Museum Hall of Fame in 1999 and were the 2010 Permian Basin International Oil Show Honorees.

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