Ruel Richard "Dick" Rothwell, Jr. of Boerne, TX passed away on the 31st of May 2013 surrounded by family and close friends. Richard was born on the 22nd of October 1939 in Shreveport, LA to Pearl Vera Carpenter Rothwell and Ruel Richard Rothwell, Sr. The family soon moved to East Texas where his father worked for Humble Oil. After moving from company town to company town following the East Texas oil boom, they settled in Talco, TX. While working as a gas station attendant in Talco during his high school years, Richard noticed there were many professionally dressed men that came in driving nice company owned cars. One day he asked one of them what he did, and the man told him he was an engineer. Richard did not know what an engineer was, but he was determined to find out and become one. Richard graduated from Talco High School in 1957 where he excelled in math and science, was president of his senior class, and lettered in football, basketball, and track. He was named All District Tackle in football his junior and senior years.
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After graduating from Talco High School, Richard enrolled at East Texas State in Commerce, TX in the fall of 1957. While there, he was referred to as "Way-Ahead" because he was usually way ahead of his other Tejas Club brothers regarding most issues.
Richard transferred to The University of Texas at Austin in 1959. While at UT he was a member of Tau Beta Pi, Omega Chi Epsilon, Alpha Chi Sigma, and Phi Lambda Upsilon, received a Cabot Carbon Scholarship, and was president of the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He was an assistant in the Chemical Engineering Department his senior year. He received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 1962.
Following graduation, Richard worked four years for Humble Oil & Refining Company's Baytown Refinery as a plant engineer. He then went to work for Northern Natural Gas/Northern Petrochemical for four years, where he was project manager for the design and construction of an ethylene oxide/glycol plant. He then spent five years as vice president at APCO Oil Company, where he served as chairman of the Refining/Marketing/Supply Operating Committee. He spent one year in Indonesia working for Roy Huffington, Inc., where he successfully negotiated with Japanese Utilities for the financing of a liquefied natural gas plant. Along the way, Richard put thought into every decision he made as he moved through the ranks, even going so far as to change his name to Dick because a one syllable name was easier for people to remember.
In 1976, Dick decided it was time to go out on his own. He founded Horizon Resources and began trading wet barrels of crude oil. The company quickly grew under his direction, and eventually expanded into oil & gas exploration, futures trading and ranching. Under his guidance, Horizon discovered more than 285 billion cubic feet of natural gas and more than 20 million barrels of crude oil. Horizon also actively traded futures on petroleum products, equity indexes, financial instruments, and foreign currencies.
Horizon was his passion for more than 30 years. Few things in life gave him greater pleasure than watching a wild cat well come in, letting his profits run on a big S&P trade, or working cattle on the ranch. His vision and work ethic were unmatched. He was hands on, and whatever he did he did 100%. No job was too big or too small. He was the first to arrive, the last to leave, and rarely took a lunch break.
Dick felt particularly strong about repaying the institutions and people that helped him to succeed. From 1995 - 1997 he co-chaired the first McKetta Challenge to raise money for the Chemical Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Austin. He later established the Dick Rothwell Endowed Chair in Chemical Engineering and the Dick Rothwell Endowed Scholarship, which supports Chemical Engineering students with financial need who are from rural parts of Texas.
In 2004, Dick was one of four alumni to receive the Distinguished Graduate Award from the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.
Dick was also on the Foundation Board at Texas A&M Commerce (formerly East Texas State) for three years and did not mind relaying to the board what he thought about some of the issues that came up. He was a generous donor to the Tejas/Sig Ep Endowment, which funds the Tejas-Sig Ep Scholarship for several students.
In addition to his professional life, Dick had many other passions. He loved youth sports, and coaching his sons and even his grandson. He also loved quail hunting, snow skiing, fly fishing, offshore fishing, collecting wine, collecting western art, writing books, riding his horse Hobo, UT football, and exercising. Dick was running 5 miles a day before running was cool. More than anything, Dick enjoyed spending time at the ranch with his family. He loved to take his grandkids for a ride on the ranch to look at the cows or to go "talk to a man about a dog", and they loved going with him. As they drove away from the house you could hear them squealing "faster Papa, faster!" He loved getting up in the morning and making them their favorite breakfast of Papa Oats or Papa Cakes. He especially loved giving his sons advice on how to better coach his grandkids' teams. Holidays and birthdays were never dull with Papa - from crazy cards that he insisted everyone read out loud to elaborate scavenger hunts to locate gifts, and all the while he sat back and laughed at how clever he was. Dick approached his retirement with the same drive and passion that he had in his scholastic and professional career. If he could not do it 100%, he was not going to do it. He told one longtime friend, "I worked hard through college and my career and now I'm going to play hard." This was so true for both accounts. He had the ability to turn the fun up a notch at any event… and did.
Dick is preceded in death by his mother and father Pearl and Ruel Rothwell, his niece Paula Franks, his nephew Sean Scroggins, his daughter-in-law Michelle Rothwell, and his grandniece Cassie McCuller. He is survived by his loving wife Veronica; his dogs Trixie and Clay Boy; his son and daughter-in-law Mark & Mary Rothwell and their children Lauren, Sarah, and Clay; his son and daughter-in-law Scott and Melanie Rothwell and their children Georgia, Ella, and Madeline; his sisters Jerry Ann, Janice, and Charlotte; numerous nieces and nephews; and countless bottles of wine that he had yet to share with friends.
An interment is to be conducted at half-past two o'clock in the afternoon on Friday, the 7th of June, at Glenwood Cemetery, 2525 Washington Avenue in Houston, where a uniformed Steward for Geo. H. Lewis & Sons is to be positioned at the cemetery entrance, so as to direct attendees to the gravesite.
The memorial service is to be conducted at four o'clock in the afternoon on Friday, the 7th of June, in the Ballroom of the Houston Country Club, 1 Potomac Drive in Houston. Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family during a reception, also to be held in the Ballroom.
In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests that donations be directed to the Dick Rothwell Endowed Scholarship in Chemical Engineering, # 57104025 at The University of Texas at Austin, checks can be made payable to UT Austin, 301 E. Dean Keeton C2100, Austin TX, 78712. Prior to sending your donation, kindly note or otherwise earmark your contribution with the following verbiage: In memory of Dick Rothwell, or https://utdirect.utexas.edu/apps/utgiving/online/nlogon/?menu1=ENDS. Donations may also be directed to the Tejas Club/SigEp Endowment (for student scholarships) at Texas A&M Commerce, checks can be made payable to Texas A&M University-Commerce Foundation, Attn: Tejas Club/Sig Ep Endowment- Richard "Dick" Rothwell Memorial, and mailed to PO Box 3425, Commerce, TX, 75429-3425.
Published in Houston Chronicle from June 5 to June 6, 2013
Arrangements under the direction of:
Geo. H. Lewis & Sons Funeral Directors
1010 Bering Drive | Houston, TX 77057 | (713) 789-3005