Painting of Mr. Mitchell by Renee Wiley (Credit: Mitchell Family.)


EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a compilation of quotes as well as respective news clips following the July 26, 2013 death of George P. Mitchell '40, Texas A&M University distinguished petroleum engineering graduate, legendary philanthropist and global visionary.

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"George Mitchell was a great man and a great benefactor of Texas A&M University. Through his generosity, dramatic improvements were made possible in many areas, including science research and teaching at A&M, particularly in physics. World-class facilities and significant enhancements for faculty and students alike thanks to his philanthropy, brought international renown to the university. His gifts, though, also extended to athletics, and particularly tennis. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed working with and learning from him while I was president of the university. He will be greatly missed."
-- Dr. Robert M. Gates, 22nd President of Texas A&M University (2002-2006) and 22nd United States Secretary of Defense (2006-2011)

"Because of Mitchell's persistence . . . we are today witnessing an unprecedented boom in domestic energy production and the associated economic benefits in Texas and nationwide."
-- Barry Smitherman, Texas Railroad Commission Chairman
Associated Press, July 26, 2013

"Before his breakthrough, shale gas had another name -- 'uneconomic' gas. It was thought that there was no way to commercially extract it. He proved that it could be done. His breakthrough in hydraulic fracturing, when combined with horizontal drilling, set off the revolution in unconventional oil and gas that we see today. But it did not come easily. It took a decade and a half of conviction, investment and dogged determination. In the face of great skepticism and refusing to accept 'no' as an answer, Mitchell dramatically changed America's energy position. As such, he also changed the world energy outlook in the 21st century and set in motion the global rebalancing of oil and gas that is now occurring."
-- Daniel Yergin, IHS Inc. Vice Chairman & author of the Pulitizer Prize-winning book, The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World

"It is because of George that we can talk seriously about 'energy independence.'"
-- Daniel Yergin, New York Times, July 26, 2013, and New York Times blogs, July 29, 2013

"Few Texans have done more for their state, for their hometown, and for America, than George Mitchell, a true visionary and devoted BOI: a Galveston phrase denoting those who were 'Born on the Island.'"
-- Paul Burka
Texas Monthly, July 26, 2013

"In my discussions with Mitchell about science he would always take me back to when he was a boy, sitting on the Galveston sea wall, looking up at the stars and wondering what it all meant. . . . It is rare to find such men and women who love pure science. He truly loved physics and physicists. For this reason Mitchell will be greatly missed."
--Eric Berger, science writer
SciGuy Blog, Houston Chronicle, July 26, 2013

"He was a true giant of the oil business. The shale revolution we are witnessing today is really a result of his efforts and foresight. He was a leader, an innovator and a wonderful gentleman."
-- Pete Miller, National Oilwell Varco CEO
Houston Business Journal, July 26, 2013

"Of course, he was 20 years ahead of all of us and that was just the kind of guy he was. Just a terrific man. I feel blessed and privileged to have worked for him."
-- Bill Ross, Vice President, Mitchell Historic Properties
MyFOX Houston, July 26, 2013

"George didn't like to hear the answer, 'No.' He always wanted to hear the answer, 'How.' You had to figure out solutions to any issue that was on the table."
-- Michael Richmond, 25-year Mitchell employee and retired CEO of The Woodlands Development Company
Bloomberg News, July 26, 2013

George P. Mitchell: A Photo Essay
KHOU-TV, July 26, 2013

"He was happy to see me and, in his usual way, said, 'Have you got all the money for the telescope yet?' [That telescope] was one of his main passions. . . . If you spoke to him, you would never have any idea the amazing things that he had done. He was very self-effacing. He was funny. He was friendly."
-- Dr. H. Joseph Newton, Texas A&M University Dean of Science and inaugural holder of the George P. Mitchell '40 Endowed Chair in Statistics, recalling his last conversation with Mr. Mitchell
Bryan-College Station Eagle, July 27, 2013

"In the final decades of the 20th century, the larger-than-life personalities of the energy business had largely faded. Mitchell was the antithesis of the swaggering, gunslinging wildcatter, but his impact as a 21st century energy pioneer can't be overstated. He had the wildcatter's thirst for risk, combined with a stubborn determination to see his hunch through long after most of the industry's freewheeling gamblers would have given up. . . . Mitchell understood the importance that continued energy development played in our country's future, yet he also recognized the tremendous responsibility we have to protect the environment as the human population grows."
-- Loren Steffy
Forbes, July 29, 2013

"It's a constant learning curve. We might get good at something, but it doesn't mean we completely understand. We always have to challenge ourselves. Dan Steward talked about how George Mitchell was always challenging everyone as to why something's happening, how it's actually happening and what you can do to make your wells better. And don't out-smart yourself, which we all do because we all think we're so damn smart."
-- Harold Korell, CEO & Chairman, Southwestern Energy Co.
Fuel Fix, July 29, 2013

"George Phydias Mitchell was one of a kind. Galveston, Houston, the state of Texas, his country and the world were blessed by Mitchell's extraordinary and extraordinarily diverse talents."
--Houston Chronicle editorial board, in naming Mr. Mitchell their Houstonian of the Century, July 30, 2013

"Mr. Mitchell was truly an extraordinary man who possessed extraordinary vision and generosity of spirit, a loving father who was devoted to and cherished by his family. His family's statement concludes with 'There is no doubt that he helped make the world a better place.' No doubt about that at all, in so many ways. George P. Mitchell, Rest In Peace."
-- David Blackmon
Forbes, July 30, 2013

"I remember asking him on several such occasions what he was working on with his company. He was very modest in answer, saying just some new ideas for how to get natural gas that no one but he believed was down there. I only learned later, when he had transformed the entire gas industry and America's energy independence by making shale gas a success, that no one in the gas patch, no one in geophysics and no one in the government labs had believed in his ideas; indeed, most had ridiculed him."
-- Dr. Peter M. McIntyre, Texas A&M Professor of Physics and inaugural holder of the Mitchell-Heep Chair in Experimental High-Energy Physics
The Battalion, July 30, 2013

"It's fashionable these days to disparage the top 1 percent as being 'filthy rich' and, symbolized by Wall Street traders and hedge-fund operators, not contributing much to the common welfare. Whatever the truth of this stereotype, Mitchell's life reminds us that many of the super-wealthy came by their fortunes the old-fashioned way: through patient risk-taking that also created huge social and economic benefits. Part of our problem today is that we don't have enough of this."
-- Robert J. Samuelson
The Washington Post, July 31, 2013

"Sometimes I think it's ironic that the first global discussion of sustainability happened in Houston. And then I think that maybe it's a good omen. Maybe we'll begin to realize that George Mitchell was right about sustainable societies, as he was about a lot of other amazing things."
-- David Crossley
Houston Chronicle, July 31, 2013

"Although there are aspects of hydraulic fracturing that cause concern, such as water and air pollution, if done right, it's a clean technology. It's lifted and allowed this county, and many others, to prosper. But it won't last forever. Mitchell had the foresight to invest in the future. We must invest sustainable, renewable energy sources in technology to last beyond the shale boom, and, like Mitchell, create a more secure future for the generations that follow us. Like the oil and gas pioneer, we must remember to do things for the right reasons."
-- Brandon Evans
Wise County Messenger, July 31, 2013

"When I was just getting out of high school, I was very interested in cosmology. I read all that I could find out about it and even strongly considered becoming a physicist. But then I went out in the oil fields that summer with my brother, and I decided to go into petroleum engineering because I decided I had better go into something where I could make some money."
-- George P. Mitchell '40
Houston Chronicle, August 2, 2013

"He told us, 'If you're not capable, tell me, because I'll find people who will be.' He needed to know we were going to work like hell to get that gas."
-- Dan Steward, Exploration Manager, Mitchell Energy & Development Corp.
The Financial Times, August 2, 2013

"Reconciling the tension between Mr Mitchell's twin passions -- fracking and sustainability -- will be one of the great problems of the coming decades. But one thing is certain: the revolution he started by poking holes in the Texas dirt is changing the world just as surely as the algorithms being generated in Silicon Valley."
--Adrian Wooldridge, Schumpeter
The Economist, August 3, 2013

"Thanks to his innovative genius, the United States will soon become the world's leading producer of natural gas and by 2017 could be the leading producer of crude oil as well. In short, Mitchell -- not to be confused with the former Senator from Maine -- should be remembered as the individual who fulfilled the elusive promise of U.S. energy independence."
-- William F. Shughart II, Research Director & Senior Fellow, Independent Institute; J. Fish Smith Professor in Public Choice, Utah State University
USA TODAY, August 4, 2013

"George P. Mitchell was one of the greatest Texans of all time, with a vision, and heart and a mind to embrace the world, to do new things to make it a better place, and to care about friends and family along the way. We will miss you, George."
-- Dr. Peter M. McIntyre, Texas A&M Professor of Physics and inaugural holder of the Mitchell-Heep Chair in Experimental High-Energy Physics
Houston Chronicle, August 5, 2013

"George P. Mitchell was a remarkable individual who combined vision with wisdom and persistence. Through sheer hard work and dedication, he leaves behind an extraordinary legacy. It can be said of very few people that they changed the world -- but George Mitchell is among those few."
-- Stephen W. Hawking, Cambridge University theoretical physicist
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion Memorial Tribute, Aug. 8, 2013

"He would always ask us how we're doing. I'd read about him in the newspapers and about his accomplishments. It's incredible to know that he was the same man, my grandfather, because he was so humble and so giving, just like an average person. That's one of the things that I admire about him most. His foundation is where we will try to carry out his legacy; to do the work he did throughout his life."
-- Katherine Lorenz, President, Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation
Your Houston News, Aug. 9, 2013

"We worked on the Superconducting Super Collider together when I was Deputy Secretary of Energy, and we were fighting hard to try and save it before Congress shut it down. It was something. He was a problem solver, I was a problem solver, and we understood each other in that way."
-- Bill White, Former Mayor, City of Houston
Your Houston News, Aug. 9, 2013

"He drew on a napkin his vision for The Woodlands. At that time, he said, 'These trees on I-45 will be The Woodlands regional shopping mall, and this is a drainage ditch now, but I envision that it will be a beautiful waterway with shops, restaurants and hotels.' He had a vision that was incredible. I'm blessed to be a part of his dream come true."
-- Gerald Irons, Vice President of Business Development, The Woodlands Development Company
Your Houston News, Aug. 9, 2013

"When you look at Texas today, George Mitchell's legacy is everywhere, and millions of (if not all) Texans are the beneficiaries. . . . I last saw him a few months ago when he attended one of my speeches in Galveston. We had a nice conversation, and he was as curious and courteous as ever. He was one of a small group of remarkable Texans who encouraged me when I first started my work, and was always a friend and advisor. The world is a better place thanks to the life of George Mitchell. He will be sorely missed."
-- Dr. Ray Perryman, The Perryman Group
Midland Reporter-Telegram, August 9, 2013

"Mitchell died recently at age 94. But his life reminds us that entrepreneurs, when properly nudged and supported by public policy, provide our best chance of solving tough social problems. . . . Ultimately Mitchell's achievements remind us that a Texas entrepreneur, who supplied greener fuels and abundant housing, can do as much as anyone to solve America's environmental and economic problems."
-- Edward L. Glaeser, Harvard economist and director, Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston
Boston Globe, Aug. 9, 2013

"My father liked problem solving. He loved brainstorming in a group. It's an attribute to be able to do that. . . . I believe he stuck with fracking not just because he knew he could make money but so America could stay strong for the next 100 years and bridge into sustainability, because if you don't have the energy required to run your economy, you are weak, and if you have to tax yourself too high to secure the sea lanes around the world to protect your foreign energy supplies, then you won't have the capital to develop the new energy sources. . . . You can't just mandate the suppression of fossil fuels to be replaced by very interesting green technologies, because none are big enough yet to fuel our economy. It's too early. It will kill the economy. Natural gas, done properly, could provide that bridge."
-- B. Greg Mitchell, one of Mr. Mitchell's 10 children and head of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Photobiology Group
Intellectual Capital, August 11, 2013

"One of the biggest themes of his philanthropy always -- and certainly going forward with the [Cynthia and George Mitchell] Foundation -- was in sustainability issues. He always said if you can't make the world work with 6 billion people, how are you going to make it work with 10 billion people? That interplay of environment, social equity and economic development was of utmost importance to him -- how the world and how the planet can sustain the economic development, the impact of humans was something that really kept him up at night."
-- Katherine Lorenz, President, Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation
Forbes Interview with Katherine Lorenz, August 12, 2013

"As the tributes and memorials keep pouring out for George P. Mitchell, father of fracking, savior of Galveston and creator of the Woodlands, it seems pretty clear that he was a pretty cool dude. In fact, Mitchell was cool enough that he and famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking were buddies who shared a mutual love of science and enjoyed racing each other in their wheelchairs, thus making Mitchell seem even more awesome posthumously."
-- Dianna Wray, columnist
Houston Press, August 13, 2013

"When I was a boy, I was fascinated by the stars because I thought one day we might be able to get there."
-- George P. Mitchell '40
Giant Magellan Telescope Organization Tribute Video, August 24, 2013

"This was the 'a-ha' moment for us; it was our best well ever in the Barnett, and it was a slick-water frack. And it was my baby!"
-- Nicholas Steinsberger, Mitchell Energy engineer
The Atlantic, November 6, 2013

"Is the measure of an innovator marked by surpassing technological ingenuity, or by unswerving determination? Surely Mitchell had some of the former, but more of the latter. Through 15 years of failure, he ignored the supposed wisdom of the crowd. . . . In the end, Mitchell proved that there is no innovative force quite so powerful as the problem-solver able to balance the world's disbelief with a resolute belief in himself."
-- The Lives They Lived, New York Times Magazine, December 21, 2013

"Thanks to George P. Mitchell and his fellow Bayou City titans of industry, the sky continues to be the limit for an entire city, state and nation whose star is most definitely on the rise."
-- Dr. H. Joseph Newton, Texas A&M University Dean of Science
"How Has Houston Benefited Humanity?" series, Houston Chronicle, December 28, 2013

Two Voices, Spirit magazine, Fall 2013, Texas A&M Foundation

"Yet in literal terms, George P. Mitchell, the son of an immigrant goat-herder from Greece, invented nothing. Instead, he took an obscure, long-sneered-at technology that had been used on the fringes of the oil and gas extraction industry for more than 70 years, upgraded, improved and vastly expanded it -- and made it a game changer. . . . He was one of the last survivors of unfashionable old hardhat America, practical, unpretentious America, the America that rolled up its sleeves, and got things done."
-- Martin Sieff, Baltimore Post-Examiner three-part series on rebuilding America, January 11, 2014

"Lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time as dean of the Texas A&M College of Science, I was privileged to participate in George's philanthropic efforts to build fundamental physics and astronomy at Texas A&M. In the process, he became a friend. I flew on Continental Express with him. I ate at Chick-fil-A with him. Somehow he thought I had power. He would call me to tell me to fix things. Sometimes I even could. His passing has made me very sad. I cannot believe this life force has left us."
-- Dr. H. Joseph Newton, Texas A&M University Dean of Science
Texas A&M Foundation Blog, January 29, 2014

"Bottom line: I thought I had read if not written the proverbial book on him. Go figure I was wrong and that I'd missed one of his best stories yet -- one involving a 60-year Aggie tradition, at that."
-- Tradition in Action, Texas A&M Science Blog, May 14, 2014

"Everybody said, 'You can't do it; it doesn't work; it's not possible.' And one of the things that Mr. Mitchell did not do was take 'no' for an answer."
-- Dan Steward, former Mitchell Energy & Development Corp. geologist, George P. Mitchell: A Difference Maker documentary

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Additional clips and information are available online, courtesy of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation.

Hutchins Shana

  • George P. Mitchell, 1919 - 2013

  • Signature Support

    Mitchell and then-Texas A&M President Dr. Robert M. Gates at the 2005 signing ceremony to formalize the Mitchell's $35 million commitment toward construction of two physics buildings at Texas A&M University, to be designed by legendary architect Michael Graves and serve as permanent architectural statements as well as respective homes to the Texas A&M Department of Physics and Astronomy and the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy.

  • A Visionary Life

  • Houstonian of the Century

© Texas A&M University. To request use of any of our photographs for educational use or to view additional options from our archive, please contact the College of Science Communications Office.

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