Petroleum Engineering – 1948
A native Texan with the courage and enterprise that this state best represents, George F. Watford has never been afraid to fail. From a washed–out student pilot in 1943, he went on to become a bombardier in 1944, flying 35 combat missions, earning seven air medals and three battle stars. After graduating from Texas Tech in Petroleum Engineering in 1948, he worked as a Geologist for Stanolind Oil & Gas Company (Amoco) (1948–56) and as Manager of Exploration for Commonwealth Oil in 1956–58. The next eight years were spent consulting and then, as Mr. Watford puts it, he finally "drilled 3 noncommercial producers and a couple of dry–holes and went totally broke."
When Watford accepted the position of Manager of Exploration for Prairie Producing Company in 1966, he found the company "in financial trouble similar to mine." He became President and CEO in 1968, and the man and the company became solvent by the mid ‘70s. In 1981 the company went public and in 1983, it was accepted for trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Guided by Watford’s experience, intelligence, and caution, Prairie became a debt–tree company with producing properties and funds for development and future needs. The original staff grew to 75 employees. His key employees became the company’s largest stockholders as Watford practiced a heartfelt belief that investment in the company combined with "effective efforts and good performance" would bring success to the individuals as well as the company.
In 1985, Prairie merged with Placer Development Limited of Canada. Watford was confident about the trade. In his own words &quto;(1) I thought it was a good, fair value; (2) every shareholder was treated in exactly the same manner; (3) all shareholders were paid totally in cash; and (4) Placer needed the operating capabilities of Prairie intact and continued using its management, employees and procedures as they existed before the merger."
A good shepherd and a good businessman, Mr. Watford says, "It is a source of great pleasure to me that the entity I built (with a lot of help from a lot of people) is currently being capably operated as an effective independent in the U.S. domestic oil business."
George and Joan Watford have six independent and high–achieving children of whom they are very proud.
The College of Engineering is also proud to bestow its tribute to high achievement and distinguished service to Mr. George F. Watford as DISTINGUISHED ENGINEER.