Frank A. McPherson

Class of
Frank A. McPherson

Frank A. McPherson

“Frank McPherson is highly respected as an effective executive of one of Oklahoma’s leading corporations, as a state and national recognized civic leader, and as a visionary participant in construction change.”
Henry Bellmon, 1992


Born in Stillwell, Oklahoma in 1933 Frank McPherson was raised on a farm that initially had no electricity or running water. The family burned wood for heating and cooking and grew most of what they ate—fresh vegetables in the summer, canned vegetables in winter, and raised hogs. Work was part of everyday life for McPherson, milking cows, plowing with a team of horses, baling hay, and cutting wood. When McPherson was 13 and again when he was 14 years of age, his father suffered serious illnesses which required the young boy to do a significant part of the farm work.

From an early age, the importance of education was stressed to McPherson by his parents. He enrolled at Oklahoma State University and majored in mechanical and petroleum engineering. To pay for college McPherson worked during the summers in a shipyard in Houston, Texas and on a tugboat on the Mississippi River. He discovered that he could make significant more money as a “roughneck” on drilling rigs, working two summers in the Gulf of Mexico and one summer in north Texas.

Upon graduation in January 1957, McPherson joined Kerr-McGee Corporation, leaving shortly thereafter to serve as an officer in the United States Air Force. He rejoined the company in 1960 as a petroleum engineer. From 1961 to 1973 McPherson held a number of positions in the company’s Gulf of Mexico drilling and production operations. The last three and half years he served as the general manager for all offshore operations.

In 1973 McPherson was named president of Kerr-McGee Coal Corporation, a subsidiary of the parent company. In 1975 he was promoted to group vice president responsible for the coal and uranium business units and in 1978 was named vice chairman of the board responsible for the coal, uranium, chemicals and refining, and marketing business units. In 1983 he was elected chairman and chief executive officer until his retirement in 1997.

McPherson served as chairman of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Integris Health, and the Oklahoma City Public School Foundation. He also served as a director on a number of boards including Conoco Phillips, Kimberly-Clark, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, American Petroleum Institute, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and Oklahoma Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

McPherson was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1992, Oklahoma State University College of Engineering Hall of Fame in 1985, and the Oklahoma State University Alumni Hall of Fame in 1985. In 2004 he received the Horatio Alger Award for Distinguished Americans.

Fun fact

Frank McPherson’s strong concern for quality education placed him in many leadership positions including the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, Task Force 200, The Oklahoma City Education Round Table, Education and Business Coalition, and The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools.

Oklahoma connections

McPherson was born in Stillwell, Oklahoma.


Oklahoma City







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