McGhee, George 1912-2005

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McGHEE, George 1912-2005

(George Crews McGhee)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born March 10, 1912, in Waco, TX; died of pneumonia July 4, 2005, in Leesburg, VA. Geologist, geophysicist, businessman, diplomat, and author. McGhee was a wealthy Texas oil man who became an active U.S. diplomat in the Middle East and Africa during the 1950s and 1960s. His interest in geology began as a boy growing up in Texas, where he loved to explore riverbeds for rocks, arrowheads, and other interesting artifacts. Graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 1933, he completed a doctorate at Oxford University in 1937 as a Rhodes scholar. At the time, he had already been active in pursuing his interest in geology, working as a geologist and geophysicist for oil companies in Texas during the 1930s. In 1935, he also patented a process for determining dip angles in rock formations. After completing his doctorate, McGhee was hired as vice president of the National Geophysical Company in Dallas. He left that post in 1940 to form his own consulting firm, DeGolyer, MacNaughton & McGhee, and then set out to become an independent oil explorer. This turned out to be a profitable venture when he discovered a huge oil deposit that supported him financially for life. With the onset of World War II, McGhee served his country in the U.S. Navy Reserve, assisting with the War Production Board and the Office of Production Management and becoming a naval intelligence officer; from 1945 to 1972, he was also a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. With the war over, McGhee was invited to work for the U.S. undersecretary of state, and so began his diplomatic career. McGhee became involved in energy and economic-aid policy, serving a key role in negotiations with Turkey, where he was U.S. ambassador from 1951 to 1953. He also traveled throughout the Middle East and Africa, working closely with Saudi Arabia on oil negotiations, and working to smooth rough relations with the Congo and Dominican Republic. Among his many positions were undersecretary of state for political affairs from 1961 to 1963, chair of the board of the Business Council for International Understanding from 1969 to 1973, and ambassador to West Germany from 1963 to 1968. After his assignment in Germany, McGhee returned to the United States, where he served as director of boards for such companies as Mobil Oil, Proctor & Gamble, and the Panama Canal Company. He was the author of several nonfiction works that drew on his diplomatic experience, including Envoy to the Middle World (1983), International Community: A Goal for a New World Order (1992), and On the Frontline in the Cold War: An Ambassador Reports (1997). McGhee also penned the fictional Dance of the Billions: A Novel about Texas, Houston, and Oil (1990) and the memoir I Did It This Way: From Texas and Oil to Oxford, Diplomacy, and Corporate Boards (2001).



McGhee, George, I Did It This Way: From Texas and Oil to Oxford, Diplomacy, and Corporate Boards, Rutledge Books (Danbury, CT), 2001.


New York Times, July 24, 2005, p. A25.

Times (London, England), September 15, 2005, p. 66.

Washington Post, July 6, 2005, p. B5.

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McGhee, George 1912-2005

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