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PHILLIPS, WAITE (1883-1964)

Real estate investor and philanthropist, Waite Phillips was associated with his brothers Frank and L. E. (Lee Eldas ), who founded Phillips Petroleum Company. Waite Phillips was born to Lewis Franklin and Lucinda Josephine Faucett Phillips on January 19, 1883, near Conway, Iowa. The couple's ten children included Frank, Lee, Waite and his identical twin, Wiate, two other sons, and four daughters.

Waite Phillips enrolled in the business school of Western Normal College in Shenandoah, Iowa. Six months later he started his business career as a bookkeeper for Hawkeye Coal Company, operated by his two older brothers, Frank and L. E., near their hometown, Knoxville, Iowa. Waite Phillips came to Indian Territory in 1906, where his brothers had relocated, and he became an independent oil operator.

Phillips courted and in 1909 married Genevieve "Veve" Elliott, the daughter of Knoxville's town banker, J. B. Elliot. In 1911 the couple became the parents of their first child, Helen Jane. A son, Elliot Waite, would follow.

Before Waite Phillips became associated with Frank and L. E. in Phillips Petroleum Company, he had set up two of his own, the Waite Phillips Company in 1922, and the Independent Oil and Gas Company, which he later sold and which merged with Phillips in 1930. Over two decades he made a fortune in the oil fields in Oklahoma, and his success displeased older brother Frank. After the merger, and having twice demonstrated his ability to succeed in the oil business, Waite Phillips devoted an increasing amount of time to real estate and charities. His long-time dream was to become a rancher, and in the 1920s he acquired more than 300,000 acres near Cimarron, New Mexico. He was determined to build one of the best cattle ranches in the state.

Phillips believed that those who acquired great wealth had a responsibility to share it with others. He was noted for his generous gifts to the Boy Scouts of America, which included $5 million from profits acquired from the sale of the Waite Phillips Company, a downtown Tulsa oil boom era skyscraper called the Philtower Building, and Philmont Scout Ranch, 127,395 acres of his New Mexico ranch. In 1938 Waite founded the Southwestern Art Association as a corporate organization to receive as a gift the Villa Philbrook, his Tulsa estate, which became the Philbrook Museum of Art.

Waite and Veve Phillips were residing in Los Angeles, California, when he died on January 28, 1964, at the age of eighty-one.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: New York Times, 29 January 1964. Michael Wallis, Oil Man, The Story of Frank Phillips and the Birth of Phillips Petroleum (New York: Doubleday, 1988). Robert Finney, Phillips, the First 66 Years (Bartlesville, Okla.: Phillips Petroleum Company, 1983).

Andrea Martin

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