1978 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Life is an adventure for those who have the guts to go for it."
Michel Halbouty, the son of Lebanese parents, was born in Beaumont, Texas. By the age of five, he was selling newspapers on a street corner and clerking in his father's grocery store. As a teenager, Halbouty was a water boy for the men on drilling rigs in the Spindletop oil field near his home. Halbouty became fascinated with the earth and the secrets it held and wanted to know more about it.
He attended Texas A&M, where he worked his way through by mowing lawns and waiting on tables. He earned his bachelor's degree in geology in 1930 and his master's degree in geology and petroleum engineering in 1931. He returned to Texas A&M in 1956 to earn his degree in geological engineering. In 1966, the Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology presented him with a doctorate in engineering. In 1990, the USSR Academy of Sciences awarded him a degree of Doctor of Geoscience, the only such honor bestowed to a scientist outside the Soviet Union.
Halbouty's first job was as a junior geologist with an independent company. Within two years, he was appointed chief geologist and petroleum engineer. By 1935, Halbouty decided to strike out on his own as an independent. By the time he was 30, he had made and lost two fortunes wildcatting.
After serving with distinction in the Army during World War II, Halbouty was broke, but he renewed his search for new sources of oil and gas. He was the first independent oilman to explore and discover gas in Alaska. He went on to invest millions in the "Western Frontier"-Idaho, Nevada, and Utah-an area few others had been willing to explore. Halbouty's company, established in 1937, remains an active and successful oil and gas exploration company.
Halbouty defined success as "achieving the goals you set for yourself. Whatever your goal may be, never, never give up." He thought it was important for young people to pursue their ambition with perseverance, tenacity, honesty, and integrity. He added, "Stay with your convictions."
Always proud of his Horatio Alger Award, Halbouty recognized individual achievement in spite of adversity. He once said, "Life is an adventure and is what you make of it."* Deceased