Clayton W. Williams, Jr., Midland, Texas
1931 – 2020
Oilman, farmer, rancher, financier, telecommunications executive, entrepreneur, and teacher. These are only a few of the words that described the multi-faceted man that epitomized West Texas. Despite the many business ventures Clayton Wheat Williams, Jr., had undertaken over the years, he stayed true to the professions that gave him his start: farming, ranching, and oil.
He was born October 8, 1931, in Alpine, Texas to Clayton Williams, Sr., and Chicora Graham, and grew up in Fort Stockton. As a graduate of Fort Stockton High School, he attended Texas A&M University and graduated in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science degree in animal husbandry. Upon graduation, he served in the U.S. Army.
In 1957, he and friend John May started May and Williams, an oil and gas company. The first successful well was drilled in 1959. Over the next 38 years, he capitalized on that initial success, forming eight oil and gas companies. Clajon, founded in 1961, grew into the largest individually owned gas company in Texas. In May 1993, Williams took his oil and gas company, Clayton Williams Energy, public on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
On New Year’s Eve 1975, William made his biggest strike with the Gataga No. 2 in Loving County near Mentone. The Gataga was one of the largest wells in the Permian Basin and produced 32 million cubic feet per day.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Williams was one of the top natural gas wildcatters in Texas. In the 1980s and 1990s, he became one of the top producers in the Austin Chalk Trend. He served as chairman and president of Clayton Williams Energy, Inc.
It was during Midland’s boom of the late 70s and early 80s that Williams established a reputation as entrepreneur and earned a spot on Forbes magazine’s Top 400 listing in 1984. He changed Midland’s landscape by constructing the office complex known as ClayDesta Plaza north of downtown.
Companies Williams organized include WilGas Company, NGL Service Company, Natural Gas of Mississippi, Century Royalty Company, Williams Ranches, Williams Brangus, Williams Farms, ClayDesta Corporation, ClayDesta National Bank, Hunters Africa, ClayDesta Communications Company, Warrior Gas Company, Maverick Mud Service and W&G Partnership.
In 1990, Williams won the GOP nomination for governor of Texas, but did not continue on to the Governor’s mansion.
He supported Texas A&M University and taught a class on entrepreneurism. He also impacted other facets of the Permian Basin – starting the 200 Club to recognize efforts of law enforcement and criminal justice agencies and establishing the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. Williams received the Lifetime Achievement Energy Award, Golden Plate Award, Jaycees Senatorial Award, the Hearst Corporation Energy Award, and he has been inducted into the All-American Wildcatters Association.