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Oilman and philanthropist Samuel Lloyd Noble, the second of three children of Samuel Roberts and Hattie Edith Skinner Noble, was born on November 30, 1896, at Ardmore, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory. Upon graduation from public school in 1914 Noble spent the summer taking classes at Southeastern State Normal School (now Southeastern Oklahoma State University) at Durant, received a teaching certificate, and for the next two years taught in the rural public schools of Carter County. Deciding that he needed more education, he entered the University of Oklahoma in 1916, but a series of events, including the death of his father, a year's stint in the U.S. Navy, and a general unwillingness to study, precluded his graduation, although he remained enrolled until 1921. In that year he and Arthur O. Olson, whom he had met while in college, formed the Noble-Olson Drilling Company. Beginning with a used drilling rig and a large debt, the ambitious Noble found his calling in the booming oil business. By 1930 the firm had grown to the point that Olson and Noble divided the company and went their separate ways, with Lloyd forming the Noble Drilling Company. Ultimately, that company did business in nineteen states and several foreign countries. Noble formed the Samedan Oil Corporation in 1932 to operate the oil production that he had accumulated.

As Noble's success in the oil business grew, he became more involved in Oklahoma's political and cultural activities. Although an ardent Republican and deeply involved in that party's state activities, he was elected to the Tenth Oklahoma Legislature (1925-27) from overwhelmingly Democratic Carter County. From 1934 to 1949 he was on the University of Oklahoma board of regents and twice as president of that body. He was also very active in a variety of professional petroleum business-related organizations. But his greatest love lay with stewardship of the land. Owning three ranches in Carter County, he was keenly aware of the legacy of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s that had devastated large areas of Oklahoma. Determined that this should not happen again, he formed the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in 1945 for the primary purpose of helping farmers and ranchers preserve and restore their land through research and educational programs. That institution grew significantly, and at the beginning of the twenty-first century the Noble family still operated it as one of the largest philanthropic institutions in the state. Samuel Lloyd Noble died of a heart attack on February 14, 1950, while on a business trip to Houston, Texas, and is buried at his hometown of Ardmore.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore, Oklahoma), 14 February 1950. Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 15 and 17 February 1950. Odie B. Faulk, Laura E. Faulk, and Sally M. Gray, Imagination and Ability: The Life of Lloyd Noble (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1995). Patty Virginia Norton and Layton R. Sutton, comps. and eds., Indian Territory and Carter County, Oklahoma, Pioneers, Including Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation, 1840-1926, Vol. 1 (Dallas: Taylor Publishing, 1983).

Bobby D. Weaver

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