Hall of Fame Information

The Petroleum Hall of Fame is dedicated to those who cherished the freedom to dare and whose work and service helped build the Permian Basin.

The Petroleum Hall of Fame was instituted in October 1967 by the authority of the charter of the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum “to honor those persons and firms who have made outstanding contributions to the development of the petroleum industry or have served as worthy examples to those in the petroleum industry, and thereby to record such examples of service, strength of character and achievement for the inspiration and education of present and future generations.”

Since 1968, when the late Frank T. Pickrell of El Paso, Texas was elected as the initial honoree, 142 individuals have been inducted into the nationally recognized Petroleum Hall of Fame. Each of the honorees have distinguished themselves with their accomplishments and their leadership. They have served as worthy examples to those in both their community and the petroleum industry.

Each odd-numbered year a maximum of four people or teams are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Those inducted have been elected by the Museum’s governing board, after an extensive study of their qualifications by the Hall of Fame Committee. The 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner will took place on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017.

The 2017 Petroleum Hall of Fame Inductees are:

  • Joseph B. McShane, Jr. – Joe McShane was born in San Antonio in 1929. He attended Trinity University and then the University of Texas, graduating with a BS in Petroleum Engineering in 1952. He moved to West Texas where he spent his entire career in the petroleum industry, primarily in waterflood development in the Permian Basin. He worked for several major oil companies including Forest Oil and Signal Oil and Gas. In 1959 he formed the partnership Wood and McShane with B. Oliver Wood. In 1963 the two men joined with W. H. Thams, a Midland geologist to form Wood, McShane and Thams, acquiring, developing and operating a number of properties.  Mr. McShane was a pioneer in the drilling of coal bed methane wells into coal formations in the Raton Basin. In the early 1990’s drilled several deep exploration wells in Martin, Midland and Andrews counties based on emerging 3-D seismic technology.  He was extensively involved in many professional organizations including the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, National Stripper Well Association, IPAA and TIPRO. He was recognized as the PBPA’s Top Hand in 1990. He was also involved in his community receiving the Monahans Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen Award in 1980, served on the Board of Managers for Ward Memorial Hospital and the Ward County Airport Advisory Committee.  He and his wife Marie moved to the Hill Country in 1995 where they still reside today.
  • Curtis W. Mewbourne – Curtis W. Mewbourne was born in 1935 in Shreveport, Louisiana. He earned his BS in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Oklahoma. After graduation, he served in the army and then founded Mewbourne Oil Company in 1965. The company has drilled over 1,000 wells in the Permian Basin and 1,400 wells in the Anadarko Basin. His commitment and innovation has led to the discovery of multiple new resource opportunities.  Mr. Mewbourne lives in Tyler, Texas and has served as a board member and chairman of several civic and charitable organizations. His commitment to children and education is demonstrated in his funding of the Mewbourne Hall of Mathematics and Science at All Saints Episcopal School in Tyler and St. John’s School in Houston. He has endowed seven Mewbourne Chairs in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Oklahoma as well as the Mewbourne Professorship in Petroleum Engineering. Mewbourne Oil Company is the largest supporter of student scholarships and internships over the past twenty-five years at the University. Mewbourne Oil Company has stood the test of time, weathering many different economic climates over the past 50 years. His company has provided employment and invested resources in the Permian Basin with a focus on hard work, integrity and innovation.
  • James Cleo Thompson – James Cleo Thompson was born in Dallas, Texas in 1930. In 1948 he entered Southern Methodist University where he studied engineering and geology. He was a member of the famous SMU football team in the early 1950s. From 1948 to 1950 he served in the naval reserve as an airman apprentice V6 USNR, and then enlisted in the Air Force ROTC at SMU. He planned to enter law school in 1952 but he and his father bought 12 oil wells near Crane, Texas and he was sent to clean up the leases and get the wells back into production. His fascination with the people, the business and the values of the oil industry began and he was hooked. More leases were acquired and an office was opened in Crane. In 1960 when the Thompsons began drilling on the Paul Moss ranch near Odessa, the Crane office was moved to Odessa on Yukon Road where it still stands today as the West Texas field office with 100 employees. Since 1952, Thompson has been responsible for the discovery, development and unitization of such fields as the Hoban, West Means, Furman Mascho, University 29, University 21, Slaughter, Levelland Cowden South and many more. The Railroad Commission gave him the title “Texas Discoverer 1994” for the discovery of four fields, the West Richardson (Strawn) field, the Earnie Pinnell (Fusselman) field, the West Richardson North (WLFC) field, and the West Richardson (Ellenberger) field. Today, Thompson is the operator of over 925 wells and has interests in about 9,000 wells, mosst of which are in the Permian Basin. In the almost six decades of his career, Thompson witnessed many changed and new technologies in the industry. He was one of the first operators to sand frac and to use rubber balls for diversion back in the early 1950s. In the late 1980s he was one of the smaller independents to incorporate the use of 3-D seismic. James Cleo Thompson (Jimmie) has served the petroleum industry, inspiring the highest ideals. He was known as an old-school wildcatter who believed that a handshake sealed the deal. He died in 2010 but his two daughters proudly carry on his tradition working in the company.


Submission of names of persons, living or deceased, for election to the Hall of Fame may be made by any interested party.

If you know a person that you believe qualifies as a candidate for the Petroleum Hall of Fame, please contact the Museum for the nomination procedures and criteria at 432-683-4403, email Archives & Collections Manager or download the nominee criteria HERE. Completed nominations may be hand-delivered or mailed to the Museum. All nominations were received no later than August 15, 2018 to be considered for the 2019 Petroleum Hall of Fame.