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John W. Nichols dies at 93

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John and Mary Nichols John and Mary Nichols

By Amanda Taylor, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- He began his career auditing books for Oklahoma City oil companies. He ended it as co-founder of the nation's largest independent oil and natural gas producer, Oklahoma City's own Devon Energy Corporation.

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Born in Ardmore in 1916, John W. Nichols' long life ended Monday. No doubt, he'll be leaving a legacy behind.

"He was a great guy, John was really one of the legends in this industry," President of Devon Energy Corporation John Richels said.

Nichols earned his bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Oklahoma in 1936.

During the depression years he worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

After watching the rich lose their money he came back to Oklahoma City and worked as a CPA, auditing books for oil companies. It wasn't his background, but the oil business interested him.

By 1950 he'd registered the world's first public oil and gas drilling fund with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Later he and friend F.G. "Blackie" Blackwood started their own oil company and by 1971 he was recruiting his oldest son.

Larry Nichols was on an adventure that would establish Devon Energy Corporation.

"We've grown into the largest independent in the United States and really put together a portfolio of opportunities for the future that's really pretty exciting for us," Richels said.

Nichols' pioneering innovations in financing oil and gas ventures had a dramatic, worldwide impact on the energy industry.

In 2001, Oil and Gas Investor magazine listed Nichols among the "100 Most Influential People of the Petroleum Century."

"He was a legend," Richels said. "He was entrepreneurial, he was well-known and yet he always had time to share a story, always had time to shake a hand, always had time to listen to people. He was a wonderful man and he'll be sorely missed."

Funeral services are scheduled Thursday, Aug. 7 at First Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City. John W. Nichols was 93-years-old.

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