John W. Nichols

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John W. Nichols

John W. Nichols

“The oil industry is one big family – no matter who is drilling a hole in the ground, we are all on the sidelines rooting for him to strike oil.”
John W. Nichols


An Oklahoma native, John W. Nichols graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in business in 1936 and later earned his CPA. With several partners, he formed Blackwood and Nichols Company, Ltd., and in 1950, this company organized the first syndicated oil and gas drilling program to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 1957, Nichols formed Mid-America Mineral, Inc., which merged with Calvert Exploration in 1965. He founded Essex Corporation, an oil well supply firm, in 1967. In his next venture, Nichols bought producing properties in 1969 called Devon International Royalties and served as chairman and chairman emeritus of Devon Energy Corporation. In the mid-1980s, he formed Devon Resource Investors, a Master Limited Partnership on the American Stock Exchange. Nichols served as trustee of Randolph-Macon Women’s College (now Randolph College), director of the YMCA, treasurer of the Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, and was an active member of the development board of Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey. A long-time supporter of the University of Oklahoma’s Price College of Business, he and his wife Mary funded five Nichols Faculty Fellowships and in 2003 created the Nichols Chair, the first endowed chair in OU’s School of Dance. In 2004, marking the largest single gift ever given by a corporation to OU, Devon Energy gave $10 million to the OU College of Engineering to help build a modern research center.

Fun fact

John W. Nichols received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Oklahoma in 2002 and was the inaugural recipient of the Oklahoma Trailblazer Award in 2003, awarded by OU’s energy programs.

Oklahoma connections

Nichols was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma.









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