AAFA #0206

1921 TX – 1994 TX


From Texas Tech University - Distinguished Engineer Citation



Houston, Harris Co., TX—Monday, 12 September 1994


            George F. Watford, of Houston, Texas, born on April 7, 1921 in Colorado City, Texas, passed away Friday, September 9, 1994.

            Preceded in death by his parents, Hardy Harvey Watford and Ruby Franklin Watford, and by Joseph F. Zemlick.

            Mr. Watford is survived by his loving wife, Joan Marie Watford, and her mother, Mrs. Joseph F. Zemlick; sisters Margaret Bass and her husband, Jack, Rebecca Yarbrough and her husband, Dan. He is also survived by all his children: Dawn Youdan, George Hardy Watford and his wife, Karen, Lisbeth J. Grundy and her husband, Michael, Randy W. Tonking and his wife, Anita, Jenny Watford Golf and her husband Michael, and Joseph Franklin Watford and his wife, Meridith, and the following grandchildren: Matthew and Jacob Watford, Blaine and Reid Tonking, Gregory and Rachel Golf, Jonathan, Tara, Kerri, and Maggie Watford, and Laura and Terry Youdan.

            Mr Watford was honored as a Distinguished Engineer of Texas Tech University in 1986. He was a charter member of the Academy of Petroleum Engineers, a member of the Houston Petroleum Club, the Houston Geological Society, the APPG, TIPRO, the Heritage Club, Lakeside Country Club and an active supporter of the Arts. Reared on a farm in West Texas, the son of school teachers, George went from CCC Camp to graduate from Texas Tech with a degree in Petroleum Engineering following a tour of duty in World War II. As 1st Lieutenant bombardier flying over 35 combat missions he earned seven air medals and three battle stars with the 379th Group and 526th Squadron of the 8th Air Force. He began his oil and gas career in 1948 with Stanolind Oil and Gas in San Antonio. He quickly rose to become their youngest District Geologist located in Houston. In 1958 he began practicing as an independent geologist where he struggled to survive through the tough 1960’s. Down, but not out, he joined Prairie Producing Company in 1966 as Manager of Production. In 1968 he became President and CEO of Prairie. During 15 years of his leadership, the company grew from two employees to a listing on the New York Stock Exchange living under the motto “If it makes sense, Do It....Now.”

            He will be forever remembered as a loving husband, father, and grandfather and as a constant reminder of the power of the human spirit.

            Friends may call at Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive after 12:00 Noon Monday where the family will be present from 7:00 until 9:00 p.m. to receive friends. Funeral services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 13, 1994 at the Memorial Drive United Methodist Church, 12955 Memorial Drive with Dr. H. Eugene Cragg, officiating. Interment to follow at Memorial Oaks Cemetery. Serving as pallbearers will be: Gordon Hinz, Bill Patillo, John Cabaniss, J. Don McClelland, Story Sloane, Stan Swenson, Rook Edwards, Tom Minor and Keith Chandler. The family requests that any memorials be made to a charity of your choice.


In another article:


Texas Tech University

Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering


Distinguished Engineer Citations

George F. Watford

Distinguished Engineer: 1986

Degree: Petroleum Engineering – 1948


Citation at time of Nomination in 1986


            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.


In another article:


Texas Tech University

Bob L. Herd Department of Petroleum Engineering


Academy Member

George F. Watford


Academy Induction: 1994

Degree(s): B.S., Petroleum Engineering, (1986)


Citation at Time of Induction in 1994


            George F. Watford, B.S.P.E. 1948, D.E. 1986, was the owner of George F. Watford Investments, Inc., in Houston, TX. He and his wife, Joan, have six children, Dawn Youdan, Hardy Watford, Lisbeth Grundy, Randy Tonking, Jenny Watford, and Joe Watford. The Watfords have been strong supporters of the department and Texas Tech University. They established the George F. and Joan M. Watford Professorship in Petroleum Engineering, presently held by Dr. Lloyd R. Heinze. Sadly, Mr. Watford died on September 9, 1994. We are pleased and honored to name George F. Watford a Charter Member of the Academy of Petroleum Engineering.


AAFA NOTES: SSDI records confirm the birth and death dates of George F. Watford (SS# issued in TX), last residence Houston, Harris Co., TX.

            His Alford lineage, from his grandmother: Margaret Theresa 1852 MS/TX3, Richard Erwin 1818 GA4, Halcut 1789 GA5, Julius 1750 NC6, Lodwick 1710 VA7, James 1687 VA8, John 1645 VA9.