Welcome back. People and places in history will always be some of my favorite subjects to write about. Over the past seventeen years this column has covered topics from coast to coast, from L.A. when Whitey Bulger was captured to New York and stories about life on the streets there. I’ve also written profiles of many prominent people including Will Rogers, past Governor George Nigh, Bob Funk and his friend Chope Phillips who was also the son of Waite Phillips.
This week I’m bringing you a bit closer to Bartlesville with the story of someone else I was lucky enough to have met. Born on April 15, 1932 in Miami, Florida, Pete Silas was made for basketball. A high school star in Miami, Pete received a full scholarship to play basketball at Georgia Tech and play he did, winning several tournaments both in the U.S. and overseas. But Georgia Tech gave him more than a place to pay basketball and that was a B.S. in chemical engineering. After graduating in 1953, Pete went to work for Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville but he wasn’t quite done with basketball. He joined the famous 66ers and also played for the Army basketball team in 1955 but soon his job with Phillips and a new wife whom everyone called ”Theo” took precedence in his life. Paris, Zurich, Brussels and London were all places that Pete, Theo and their four children called home as Pete rose through the ranks at Phillips. Along the way he received several international honors including a medal from Norway.
In 1982 at the age of 49 Pete became the President and Chief Operating Officer of the company, the youngest man since Boots Adams to have that position. Then three years later in 1985 he became Chairman. Pete Silas was the head guy for the next nine years, fighting off hostile takeovers and guiding the company through volatile market conditions. When he retired from Phillips in 1994 at the age of 62 he had been working for the company for forty-one years, beginning as a trainee engineer and ending up as the boss.
Despite his professional accomplishments Pete is best known in this community for his philanthropy. After retirement he and Theo both gave generously of their time and money, serving on the boards of so many organizations it would take an entire column to list them all. Bartlesville’s crown jewel, the Price Tower, is one that sticks out to me along with the new Boys and Girls Club which bears his name and that’s where I’m going with this week’s column.
Coming up on April 6th, 7th and 8th people will have the opportunity to buy stuff from Pete and Theo’s estates. This is not an auction but an estate sales located at 2201 Kristen Lane in Bartlesville and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the C.J. “Pete” Silas Boys and Girls Club. What an honor to own something that was significant to the Silas. I may be a bit sentimental about stuff like this and I think you may be as well. For questions call Patti Grissom at (918)440-0436 or Laura Nelson at (918) 510-2787.
For me, this weekend it’s Tulsa, Oklahoma where the world’s largest gun and knife show will be going on. Then it’s on once again to New Mexico and the story of a movie theater I think you will find interesting.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…..