The Abilene Reporter News
September 19, 1971
Funds for ROTC Building
The J. E. and L. E. MABEE Foundation, Inc. of Tulsa, Okla., which has made some $225,000 available to Hardin-Simmons University for construction of the new home for the Reserve Officers Training Crops, was founded by the late Mr. and Mrs. JOHN E. MABEE.
Mr. Mabee, called “Mr. Philantropy,” by a leading Tulsa newspaper upon in his death Jan. 25, 1961, and his wife, the former LOTTIE ESTELLA BOREN, established the foundation in 1948. She died in October of 1865.
Mr. Mabee was born in Cedar County, Missouri, near Jericho Springs, Missouri. He worked at home, helping his father and mother and got what education he could. At the age of 18, he went to Idaho to work on a ranch. He stayed in Idaho two years, after having worked on several ranches, then came back home.
He was 20 years old when he married Mrs. Mabee. They rented a farm and farmed it for seven years. During that period, they went to Fort Worth, Texas for one year. Mr. Mabee worked for the Swift’s Packing House for 15 cents per hour. Later, they both got a job in a hotel there in Fort Worth waiting on tables. Soon they returned to the farm.
Mr. and Mrs. Mabee moved to Oklahoma during statehood in 1907. They homesteaded 160 acres of land located about two miles from Randlett, Oklahoma. Mr. Mabee carried the mail for awhile then he started buying mules, cattle, and hogs. In 1910, the Mabees moved to Oklahoma City and there Mr. Mabee got into the “mule trading” business. From Oklahoma City they went to Fort Worth again, where Mabee became known as the best livestock auctioneer in the country. He bought horses and mules for the government and “drove a might hard bargain.”
In 1920 he moved to Walters, Oklahoma where he bought and sold oil leases. In 1921 he started his career as a drilling contractor. He drilled wells for about all the major companies. In the Oklahoma City field alone, he drilled over 200 wells.
In 1923, he and his brother-in-law, W. M. PYLE, formed a partnership and went into the cattle business in West Texas and New Mexico. Mr. Mabee owned three ranches himself and Mabee and Pyle owned three ranches. They were big ranchers and breeders of Hereford cattle and had about 20,000 head. In 1943 Mr. Pyle died and gradually Mr. Mabee retired from the cattle and ranch business.
Mr. Mabee was always a very colorful character. He was presented to the Hall of Fame in 1947, of which he was very proud, and one of his best friends was the late WILL ROGERS. He wrote about Mr. Mabee, quote, “I came in from the West Coast to Wichita, Kansas, got a little sleep that night and then on down to Tulsa in Oilman Mabee’s plane, a fast Lockheed. He used to trade and sell mules. Now he has more holes in the ground than a gopher, and the funny part of it, the things got oil spouting out of ‘em. They got one field called ‘Mabee Field,’ but its not just maybe, its really there.”
In 1948, Mr. and Mrs. Mabee formed the J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation. He wanted to do good with his money and to especially help the youth of America, to make the country strong and durable.
Upon his death, a Tulsa paper paid him tribute: “The death of JOHN E. MABEE was a distinct shock to the city of Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma.”
Here was a genuine pioneer of the Southwestern oil industry--a real-life personification of the self-made man who, having accrued the equivalent of several fortunes, lived to express his gratefulness through benefactions to his hometown, to his state, and to good works too numerous to mention.
There just aren’t many men like JOHN MABEE. We find it a virtual impossibility to list the grand sum of his benefactions or the variety of institutions and good works into which they went. To the Community Chest, to the University of Tulsa--to medical and hospital benefit, to religious and benevolent groups, to all these, and more, the name Mabee will be forever remembered.
It should go without saying that JOHN E. MABEE was Oklahoma’s ‘Mr. Philanthropy,” yet the heritage he leaves behind runs much deeper. Mr. Mabee’s personality and attitude were those of a human being with an unquenchable love of live, of optimism for the future and of confidence that all will be well as long as people, with means or without, will but contribute of their time and their effort to making life better for one and all.”