James Virgil Waggoner, loving husband, devoted father, grandfather, philanthropist and businessman, passed away Wednesday, the 27th of November 2013. He was born on the 29th of October 1927 in Judsonia, Arkansas.|
He was a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University where he received with honors a degree in Chemistry and Math. While attending Ouachita, he met and married the love of his life, June Howell. He went on to receive a master's degree from the University of Texas also in Chemistry and Math.
Upon graduation, he accepted an offer to go to work for Monsanto Chemical Company in Texas City, Texas where he started his storied career. He rose to the position of Group Vice-President. He resigned from Monsanto in St. Louis, Missouri to become the President of El Paso Products Company located in Odessa, Texas. In 1983, he relocated to Houston, Texas where he became a consultant to the Petrochemical industry. In 1985, he with a group of investors along with the help of his good friend Gordon Cain formed Sterling Chemicals, Inc. Through his leadership and direction he successfully took the company public on the New York stock exchange as a fortune 500 company. Sterling became a legendary model in business with an "everyone winning philosophy" through its profit sharing program.
After his retirement from Sterling, he initiated a number of business ventures with his son-in-law Kevin, and spent time with his numerous activities in investments, real estate and philanthropy. Virgil's giving heart and philosophy led to major gifts such as a grant to establish a research center to study alcohol dependence at the University of Texas. The Waggoner's have funded a bi-annual Speakers luncheon to bring about the awareness of Alcoholism at the Council on Alcohol and Drugs of Houston. This was done in memory of their son Jay who passed away at the age of thirty-six.
Virgil was honored by numerous organizations; such as the Ronald McDonald house, the Star of Hope, the Museum of Natural Science, the Good Samaritan Foundation, Boys and Girls Country, the Women's Home, Orbis International (the world's only flying eye hospital), the Cancer League and Baylor's Teen Health Clinic and many others.
Virgil was a life-time Director of the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo, a Man of Distinction for Baylor College of Medicine and a member of the Board of Visitors at M. D. Anderson. He was also selected as a Distinguished Alumnus at the University of Texas at Austin. Further, he was a member of many other industry and civic organizations.
Along with his successful business ventures, nothing was more important in his life than his family. He is survived by his loving wife, June, to whom he was married for sixty-five years. He is also survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Liz and Kevin Quisenberry. His three grandchildren, Katie Fleck, Blake Quisenberry, and Madeline Waggoner. He will also be remembered by several nephews, a niece and numerous other family members and close friends.
In summation of his life, Virgil believed that few, if any, are recognized for what they give. He often quoted Winston Churchill who said, "You make a living by what you earn, you make a life by what you give."
The Waggoner family would like to extend a special thank-you to the wonderful staff at Autumn Leaves, a memory care residence. We were so blessed that Virgil was given such loving care and surrounded by people that went above and beyond, ensuring that his time there was as comfortable as possible.
Friends are cordially invited to gather with the family and share memories and celebrate his life during in a reception to be held at one o'clock in the afternoon, on Monday, the 2nd of December, in the grand foyer of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston, followed by a memorial service at two o'clock in the Jasek Chapel also at Geo. H. Lewis & Sons.
In lieu of customary remembrances, donations in Virgil's memory may be directed to the
Houston Southeast Chapter, 2242 W. Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX, 77030.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Dec. 1, 2013