William T. Stokes Centennial Teaching Fellowship in Geological Sciences
Bill Stokes loved The University of Texas at Austin. His pride and devotion were clearly seen not only by his generous financial support but also with the time he gave to the institution over the years. Bill was a member of the executive committee of the Chancellor’s Council, the President’s Associates, and the Longhorn Foundation executive committee. From 1978-2008, he was a member of the Geology Foundation Advisory Council, its vice chairman from 1993-95, and its chairman from 1995-97. In addition, Bill served on the Advisory Council of the College of Natural Sciences and represented the athletic department on the Texas Campaign for Endowments.
William Thomas Stokes Jr. was born in Corsicana, Texas and graduated from Corsicana High School. He attended college until the start of World War II when he moved to San Diego, California to work for Consolidated Aircraft building the B-24 Liberator bomber. Bill then enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Upon being discharged, he enrolled at UT Austin on the G.I. Bill and graduated with a B.S. in geology in 1950. Bill and Fifi, a native of Great Britain, have two sons, William Thomas III of Houston and Peter Brad of Corpus Christi. Like their father, both are graduates of the University: William with a B.B.A., petroleum land management, in 1983 and Brad with B.S., geology, in 1987.
Bill’s career began in the 1950’as an exploration geologist with the Pure Oil Company in Midland and Tyler, as a development geologist with the Sun Oil Company in San Antonio, and as an exploration manager with Bright and Schiff, an independent oil operator in Midland. The next decade found him associated with Oliver and West, Inc., a petroleum consulting firm in Dallas which he later purchased with a partner. In 1972, Bill sold his interest in what had become the firm of Stokes and Boone and moved to California to join the R.L. Burns Corp. as executive vice president and director. He cofounded Fortuna Energy Company in Oklahoma City in 1978.
Two years later, the King Ranch asked Bill to start a subsidiary, King Ranch Oil & Gas, Inc.to conduct exploration and production of oil and gas in five states and the Gulf of Mexico. He was its vice president and general manager until his retirement in 1987. Bill’s commitment to his profession was further reflected by his memberships with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (as a secretary to the house of delegates, trustee associates, and vice chairman of Texas), American Institute of Professional Geologists (as president of the Texas section), and American Association of Professional Landmen (as a charter member and vice president of the Dallas section). He passed away in 2008
Fifi remembers that her husband “always spoke highly of his years at the University” and was “so grateful for the opportunity to go to UT Austin.” “He had a great deal of respect for his professors,” she says, “and enjoyed working with and being mentored by them.” As expressions of his gratitude and respect, they have funded not one but two endowments (the second was the Fiona D. Stokes Fellow in Petroleum Land Management, now the Fiona D. Stokes Centennial Teaching Fellowship in Business, in the School of Business) under the University’s Centennial Teaching Fellowships program. When created in 1982, Bill wrote of his belief that he and Fifi could best serve the University of Texas by helping to meet the need to increase teaching fellowships:
“This is a way to recognize the less senior members of the faculty. To establish and maintain a university of the first class, it is necessary to attract and keep young, outstanding teachers.”
One of the first two recipients of the Stokes Centennial Teaching Fellowship in Geological Sciences was current Jackson School Dean Sharon Mosher. Her husband, Fifi recalls, “thought the world of her and would be thrilled to know that she was now dean.”
Both endowments, according to Fifi, were Bill’s way of “giving back some of what he had been given – a fine education- as well as an opportunity for him to let the faculty know that they were appreciated.” As to the impact that she hopes Bill’s endowment would have on the Jackson School and UT Austin communities, it would “please him greatly,” she says, to know that it continues to help “attract the best (teachers) and encourage the best to stay on with the University.”