C.J. "Pete" Silas (1932 - 2014)

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C. J. "Pete" Silas, former Chairman and CEO of Phillips Petroleum Company, passed away on Tuesday just before 5:00 PM. As his wife, Theo, aptly put, right at the end of a regular workday at Phillips.
Silas was born on April 15, 1932 in Miami, Florida, where he attended Miami High School, 1945-1949. There he was awarded the Junior Chamber of Commerce trophy as the school's outstanding athlete and scholar and was recruited for a full basketball scholarship to Georgia Tech. He received a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech and joined Phillips as a trainee petroleum engineer in Bartlesville in 1953. During his first year at Phillips, the six foot, six inch Silas briefly joined the Phillips 66ers basketball team. In 1954, he served for two years in the U.S. Chemical Corps, attained the rank of first lieutenant and played on the army basketball team that went on to win the Pan-American games in Mexico City in 1955. Over the years working in gas and gas liquids, exploration and production, and chemical sales activities, he lived in Paris, Zurich, and New York City where he met and married his wife of 49 years, Theodosea Hejda, and then on to Brussels and London. Silas went to London from 1968 to 1976 to head Phillips' Europe-Africa division and directed much of the development of the Ekofisk operations in the Norwegian North Sea – one of the world's largest offshore oil and gas complexes. In the process, Silas gained the respect of industry and political leaders in Norway, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, and received the Norwegian government's royal Norwegian St. Olav's Order in the rank of Commander, recognizing his contributions to Norway's energy industry.
In 1976, Silas returned to corporate headquarters in Bartlesville as vice president, gas and gas liquids. Two years later he was elevated to senior vice president of natural resources. By 1980, he was an executive vice president. In 1982, at the age of 49, he became president and chief operating officer, and the youngest man to hold this job since Boots Adams. In May of 1985, Silas was elected chairman and chief executive officer and during this time he successfully guided the company through two hostile takeover attempts. He retired in 1994 at the age of 62 with a 41 year career at Phillips.
Throughout his career and retirement, Silas was an active and generous participant of many boards and philanthropies – to name a few, chairman of the board of the American Petroleum Institute, Chairman of the board of the National Boys and Girls Clubs of America, member of the board of directors of Halliburton Co., a member of the board of directors of COMSAT, a member of the board of directors of the Reader's Digest Association, Inc., chairman of the board of National Junior Achievement, Chairman of U.S. chamber of Commerce, a trustee of Frank Phillips Foundation, Inc., a member of the board of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a member of the board of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, member of the board of the Oklahoma Nature Conservancy which established the Tall Grass Prairie, and many more. Silas was a recipient of Georgia Tech's 1988 Former Scholar–Athlete Total Person Award.
Also, Silas and his wife, Theo, were both instrumental in establishment of the OK Mozart Festival and The Price Tower Arts Center, where Silas was Chairman, building it to what it is today – a museum, hotel and a source of cultural pride and philanthropy to the city of Bartlesville. In 2013, the Bartlesville Community Center honored the Silas family through its Legacy Hall of Fame.
He is survived by his wife, Theo Silas; children, Karla and Sean Slade and grandchildren, Amelia, Natalie, and Henry; Drs. Peter and Stephanie Silas and grandchildren, Thomas and Michael; Michael and Sandra Silas; and Drs. James and Megan Silas, and grandchildren, Cate and Robby. He is also survived by his nieces and nephew, Anne, Linda, Barbara and David Silas.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to The Price Tower Arts Center, 510 S. Dewey Ave., Bartlesville, OK 74003.
Memorial services will be held on Saturday, December 20th, at 11:00 AM in the First Presbyterian Church, Bartlesville
Arrangements are under the direction of the Arnold Moore & Neekamp Funeral Home, Bartlesville. Online condolences may be left at www.honoringmemories.com.
Funeral Home
Arnold Moore & Neekamp Funeral Home
710 Southeast Dewey
Bartlesville, OK 74003
918-336-5225
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Published in Examiner-Enterprise from Dec. 18, 2014 to Jan. 17, 2015