By: Dick Tarpley
The No.1 man in the oil business stepped out of his own plane at Harpersville airfield at Breckenridge Friday to set foot once again on the West Texas soil he still calls home. A beaming midday sun failed to bother rugged Eugene Holman, president of the world’s biggest oil concern, Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), as he followed his wife from the big Lockheed Lode Star and was greeted by J.D. Sandefer Jr., and Jakie III age 9. “The sun feels good,” Holman said. “It’s pretty cool back East.”
Holman has been away from that bright West Texas sun for a long time following his graduation from Hardin-Simmons University in 1916 and the University of Texas with a master’s degree in 1917. After a World War I army career and a period with the U.S. Geological survey, Holman joined the Standard Oil Company with Humble, a Standard Oil subsidiary, in 1921 and advanced quickly to the top, taking over the presidency of the huge firm at the age of 49—just two years ago next week. Now the West Texan—he was born in San Angelo and reared in Monahans—has left his swank New York office to accept on honorary doctor of science degree from Hardin-Simmons and to deliver the commencement address to the 1946 class at the school where he got his own degree 30 years ago.
Accompanied by his wife and old oil friends, Mr. and Mrs. Jake Sandefer Jr., Holman will arrive in Abilene for the “first time in five years” Sunday morning. He will attend the baccalaureate sermon Sunday morning and after delivering the commencement address Monday Morning, he will fly to New York for an important directors meeting Tuesday. Before coming to Abilene, Holman planned a two day fishing trip at Possum Kingdom Lake, which he saw for the first time.
In reaching the top of the oil business, Holman had become one of the most popular executives in history, his friends, both independent producers and major operators agree. Asked about the current wave of strikes over the nation, Holman declared he believed the Case Labor Bill, now awaiting signature of President Truman, “is a step in the right direction.”
The oil industry has had few strikes, chiefly because “we were the first to recognize the need for increased wages and better working conditions for oil men, Holman asserted. The oil executive favors the OPA, but he believes “we have made a good case” against keeping price controls on the oil industry. There is no shortage in oil, he said, and therefore there is no need in price control of oil. He admitted the oil price would probably rise if price controls were taken off, but he insisted “the price of crude should go up.”
Conservation is a wise practice and proration as set up by the Texas Railroad Commission is a satisfactory scheme, but Holman vehemently protested hoarding of oil. “In the foreseeable future, there is plenty of oil to solve our economy,” he predicted. Joining the Holmans in Abilene Sunday afternoon will be Mr. and Mrs. John R. Suman. Suman is vice-president of Standard Oil.