MIDLAND, Tx. (KBTX) - Clayton W. Williams Jr., oil and gas pioneer from Midland, died Friday.
Williams died in Midland after falling ill with pneumonia. A friend told the Midland Record-Telegram he was surrounded by family and loved ones at the time of his passing. He was 88 years old.
Williams was born in Alpine, Texas, and graduated from Texas A&M in 1954. He went on to serve two years in the U.S. Army, then entered the oil and gas business as an independent producer. Williams founded more than 26 major companies in his lifetime, including what is now Aquila Gas Pipeline Corp, the largest privately-owned natural gas company in Texas, and Williams Company, which has drilled more than 800 wells across the country.
Williams also built the first totally digital microwave long-distance network in Texas and developed farming and ranching operations that totaled more than 450,000 acres of land in Texas and Wyoming.
A committed Republican, Williams ran for governor in 1990 against Ann Richards. Williams was also a major fundraiser for John McCain’s 2008 presidential run and a contributor to the American Crossroads Super PAC.
Among the many pouring out their condolences for the Williams family Saturday was Governor Greg Abbott. He released the following statement:
"Claytie Williams was a giant among Texans and will be remembered for his incredible business acumen and philanthropic acts. His impact on the Permian Basin will be lasting and his legacy will live on as a man who helped drive the American oil and gas boom--leading to our nation’s energy independence. Claytie and Modesta transformed Midland with their ingenuity, warmth, and kindness. Cecilia and I are deeply saddened by the news of his death and ask that all Texans keep Claytie and his family in their prayers.”
Also on Saturday morning, Texas A&M’s Association of Former Students highlighted Willams’s significant contribution to the University, including millions of dollars in contributions to The Association of Former Students, 12th Man Foundation and Texas A&M Foundation. Those gifts include a 1985 gift naming the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center in his honor.
In 1981, Texas A&M and The Association of Former Students presented Williams with the Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a Texas A&M former student.
“Claytie was a great Aggie and a loyal friend. I will always remember his genuine emotion for Texas A&M and his fellow Aggies,” said Association of Former Students President and CEO Porter S. Garner. “He was one of a kind and always wanted the best for Texas A&M. I was continually inspired by his support and dedication to The Association of Former Students and to me personally.”