The Hefner Family
The Hefner family has deep roots in the oil and gas industry, dating back to the world-famous Spindletop oil discovery in 1901, where Robert A. Hefner ("The Judge") began his career. Over his lifetime he amassed well over 30,000 acres of minerals in Oklahoma's Anadarko basin, planting the seeds for a family now in its fifth generation.
Robert A. Hefner Sr. ("The Judge")
Fun Fact: The mineral conveyance form still in use today is based upon the original Robert A. Hefner Form.
Robert A. Hefner (“The Judge”) was born four miles north of Lone Oak in Hunt County, Texas in 1874 from humble roots. Educating himself under the stars at night with books sent to him from a cousin at Baylor, Hefner worked his way through college and secured his Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas in 1902.
As he wrapped up law school, the world-famous Spindletop discovery was made and he headed there to begin his law practice. He soon moved to Ardmore, OK in 1906, before Oklahoma statehood, after representing a Native American case and realizing the town was ripe for a young attorney. It was in Ardmore that his legal career really took off and clients began lining up at the door; clients like Humble Oil (now Exxon), Magnolia Petroleum (now Mobil), Gulf Oil Company (one of the “Seven Sisters” prior to its merger with Standard), Carter Oil, Skelly Oil (now Texaco), among others.
His civil service, however, began when he was elected mayor of Ardmore in 1920 and was convinced in 1926 to lend his name to the ballot for Supreme Court Justice, a position he served in for six years. Although he served as a Justice, his nickname of “the Judge” was attained years before when he had just moved to Ardmore for his ability to solve complex issues and disputes. Following his time on the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Hefner became Mayor of Oklahoma City in 1939, most noted for the building of Oklahoma City’s water reservoir system - Bluff Creek Reservoir, which was later renamed Lake Hefner. Hefner served his Mayorship during World War II and was pivotal in winning the military bid to place Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City - a time that brought the famous General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Chester W. Nimitz to Oklahoma City. “Looking to do as much as he could do for our boys in the war”, the Judge helped raise, along with E.K. Gaylord and Bob Hope, $40 million in US war bonds to commission the USS Oklahoma City. Today Lake Hefner, Hefner Middle School, Hefner Road and the Lake Hefner Parkway are all reminders of his visionary service to the City of Oklahoma City.
Aside from his civic involvement, The Judge was a visionary in the oil field as well; he amassed thousands of acres of mineral rights through The Hefner Company based upon ‘creekology’, which later proved to be a very sound investment. By the time he was elected Supreme Court Justice in 1927, he had already amassed over 33,000 acres of mineral rights in the Anadarko basin. Testament to his innovation regarding his legal practice and purchasing of mineral rights, the mineral conveyance form that is still in use today is based upon the original Robert A. Hefner mineral conveyance form.
He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1949.
Robert A. Hefner Jr.
Fun Fact: Robert A. Hefner Jr. was a regimental featherweight boxing champion (now Golden Gloves), set a course golf record, won the gold medal for the State of Oklahoma while playing the violin, and played in both the Stanford University Chapel Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony - all before the age of 21.
Robert A. Hefner Jr. was born in Beaumont, Texas in 1907.
He attended the Culver Military Academy in Indiana while in high school and represented the State of Oklahoma as one of its first Eagle Scouts at the Boy Scouts Jamboree in London, England in 1920 - where he was awarded his gold medal in boxing from the King and Queen of England.
After graduating from Stanford in 1928, he obtained his law degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1931, Unfortunately for him, the State had just passed legislation that went into effect March 21, 1930 requiring graduating attorneys to pass an examination to be admitted to the State Bar. So, Jr. was among the first required to take the State Bar examination in Oklahoma. His interest in law was accompanied by his interest in politics. During his honeymoon to Hawaii, he met and became close friends with President Roosevelt’s son, Elliott. That relationship led him to attend many dinners at the White House and work in Washington DC for a period of time. March 27, 1935 was one evening they would never forget though as his wife, Louise Good, went into labor while at dinner. Family legend has it White House security personnel cleared the path, as it was snowy, to get her to the hospital or she would have given birth to III only steps from the Oval Office.
In 1939 Junior ended up moving to Evansville, Indiana to practice law. Like his father, he quickly gained the confidence of all the major companies: Sun Oil Company, Sinclaire Prarie Oil Company, Phillips Petroleum, Deep Rock Oil Corporation, Trans-Western Oil Company, Frontier Fuel oil Corporation and Kingwood Oil Company to name a few.
Junior ended up returning to Oklahoma City in 1946, however, at the request of his father to manage The Hefner Company. He founded the Hefner Production Company to start producing the vast mineral inventory that the company held too. Junior was one of the founders of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association (OIPA) and served as Vice President for the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA).
He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1973 and received the Oklahoma Outstanding Oilman Award in 1976.