Elected in 1974
“For leadership in the development of geologic analysis and
methods contributing to worldwide petroleum resource discoveries.”
BY ROLAND N. HORNE
THOMAS BARROW passed away on January 27, 2011. He had a long and influential career in the energy and resources industries, having served as vice chairman of Sohio (Standard Oil Company of Ohio), chairman and chief executive officer of the Kennecott Corporation, and senior vice president of Exxon Corporation.
Thomas Barrow was a Texan, born in San Antonio and raised in Houston. His father was a petroleum geologist and, eventually, served as chairman of the board of the Humble Oil and Refining Company (now Exxon). His mother was the daughter of a turn-of-the-century California gold miner. Thomas attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a B.S. in petroleum engineering in 1945 and an M.S. in geology in 1948, and Stanford University, where he earned his Ph.D. in geology in 1953. He served on active duty with the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946 and was a member of the Naval Reserve from 1946 to 1961.
He began his career as a geologist in California, joining Humble Oil and Refining Company in 1952. He rose quickly in the company, to become Southeastern Region Exploration Manager by 1962 and ultimately its president in 1970. He was elected to the Board of Directors of Exxon Corporation in 1972 and also became senior vice president of the corporation, in
charge of Exxon’s worldwide exploration and production activities. He was also contact director for Exxon Exploration, Inc., and Esso Eastern, Inc., as well as corporate planning, mining, and synthetic fuels. He was responsible for Exxon Research and Engineering Company, Imperial Oil Limited, Exxon Enterprises, Inc., and production, science, and technology. Dr. Barrow retired from Exxon in November 1978 and joined Kennecott. When Kennecott was acquired by Sohio in June 1981, Dr. Barrow was Kennecott’s chairman of the board and chief executive officer, posts to which he had been elected in December 1978. He was responsible for Sohio’s oil and natural gas exploration and production activities, the worldwide minerals business of Kennecott (an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Sohio), and corporate planning, research and development, and engineering and technology functions. Dr. Barrow retired as vice chairman of Sohio in June 1985.
Dr. Barrow was a board member of Tobin International (chairman) and GX Technology Corporation (chairman). He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Baylor College of Medicine (vice chairman, 1991–1999), Texas Medical Center, and the Houston Grand Opera (president, 1985–1987, chairman 1987–1991). He was a trustee of Stanford University (1980–1990), the American Museum of Natural History, the Geological Society of America Foundation, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, as well as president of both the American Society for Oceanography and the National Oceanography Association.
Dr. Barrow was a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the American Geophysical Union, and the Society of Mining Engineers. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geologic Society of America, and the New York Academy of Sciences. As a member of the National Academy of Engineering, he served on the Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Resources of the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Barrow received many honors from the University of Texas at Austin: Distinguished Graduate in Engineering
(1970), Distinguished Alumnus Award (1982), Distinguished Graduate in Geology in (1985), and Distinguished Graduate from the College of Natural Sciences (1991). He was a life member and former chairman of the Geology Foundation, a life member of the Ex-Students Association, a life member of the University of Texas Development Board, and a member of the Centennial Commission.
At Stanford University, Dr. Barrow’s name is memorialized in perpetuity in the Thomas Davies Barrow Professorship in Earth Sciences.
The Offshore Technology Conference awarded Dr. Barrow the Distinguished Achievement Award in 1973, and the National Ocean Industries Association gave him the same honor in 1974. He was named chief executive of the year for the metals and mining industry in 1979 by Chief Executive magazine. In 2010 he received the Pioneer Award from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.
Dr. Barrow and his wife Janice met at Stanford University and married in 1950. He is survived by his wife and their four children and nine grandchildren.