OU Petroleum Engineering Alumnus Lew Ward Dies

Oklahoma oilman and OU petroleum engineering alumnus Llewellyn “Lew” Ward, III died on Sunday, March 20. Ward was the founder and chairman of Enid-based Ward Petroleum Corporation.

Born July 24, 1930 in Oklahoma City, Ward was raised in the state’s oil and gas industry. His father Llewellyn Ward, II was a driller, tool pusher and drilling superintendent, and young Lew spent his summers learning the trade by working as a roustabout and roughneck.

Lew graduated from the Oklahoma Military Academy in Claremore and went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from OU in 1953, where he was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. After graduation, Ward served with the United States Army during the Korean War, and in 1955, he returned home and married his college sweetheart Myra Gungoll. The following year, with his father-in-law, Lew founded Ward-Gungoll Oil. In 1963, Lew drilled his first well and began the business that was to become Ward Petroleum Corporation. He was a registered professional engineer and a graduate of the Owner/President Management Program at Harvard University.

Ward’s love of the energy industry was unmatched. He was a member of the International Society of Energy Advocates, served as Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America and as President of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association. Lew was a founder and board member of Sarkeys Energy Center and served on the boards of the National Petroleum Council, the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy and the College of Engineering at OU. In 1999, he received the Lone Star Steel Chief Roughneck Award for lifetime achievement in the oil and gas industry. In 1996, Lew was named Energy Leader of the Year by the National Association of Royalty Owners. He was, also, inducted in the University Of Oklahoma College of Engineering Distinguished Graduates Society and received a Distinguished Alumni Award for lifetime achievements as an alumni of the Oklahoma Military Academy. Ward was presented with the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy at the University of Oklahoma’s Trailblazer Award for his distinguished career and record of service. 

Mr. Ward believed strongly in service to his community, state and nation. He served on the Board of Pepperdine University, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, the Nature Conservancy and the President’s Advisory Committee to the Arts of the John F. Kennedy Center, and was a member of the National Committee for the Performing Arts. Ward was Past-President of the Enid Rotary Club, American Business Club, Enid Noon AMBUCS and Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce. 

As a result of these activities, he was named Greater Chamber of Commerce Businessman of the Year in 1998 and Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2006. Also in 2006, he was presented the Governor’s Arts Award, and was inducted into the Enid Public School Foundation Hall of Fame. In 2007, the American Oil and Gas Historical Society presented Lew with the Oil Patch Preservationist Award and, that same year, was recipient of the City of Enid Pillar of the Plains Award.  In November 2010, Lew was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. He was named the Ronald Reagan Award recipient by the Oklahoma Republican Party where he served as a National Republican Committeeman from Oklahoma. In December 2013, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for Non-Profits. Lew and Myra Ward were Signature Grant Donors to Enid Public School Foundation.

Two of his most recent passions were the Entrepreneurial Leadership Seminar at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center. Lew wanted to emphasize the entrepreneurial nature of the land run and the successful businesses that resulted from it.

In his spare time, he enjoyed golf, reading, attending performances by the Enid Symphony Orchestra and at the Gaslight Theater, and spending time with his family.

Lew’s presence and contribution to the industry and his community will be greatly missed.

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