Charles C. Stephenson, Jr.
2006 Outstanding Entrepreneur
Co-founder, Vintage Petroleum
Founding parter, Regent Private Capital
Co-founder, Premier Natural Resources
Charles Stephenson invested in himself when he co-founded a Tulsa-based independent energy company, Vintage Petroleum, Inc., in 1983.
Influenced by an uncle from south Texas who was a chemist for Mobil Oil, the boy from Antlers, Oklahoma, decided to follow a similar career path and earned a degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 1959.
After a stint in Fort Lee, Virginia, Stephenson launched his career with Amerada Petroleum Corporation, where he served as manager of engineering services. Looking for the opportunity to grow, Stephenson became production operations manager for another oil and gas company, then assumed a similar position at Andover Oil Co, where he was named president a year later.
Stephenson served in this capacity until 1983 when the Santa Fe Minerals Company bought Andover Oil. This change provided the impetus Stephenson needed to strike out on his own, and he co-founded Vintage Petroleum, which was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1990. He served as chairman, president, and CEO as the company grew from a start-up with three employees to a major operation with more than 750 employees in four countries.
After 22 years of leadership, Stephenson retired from Vintage Petroleum and the company was sold to Occidental earlier this year. Many community organizations continue to benefit from Stephenson’s generosity including the Salvation Army, Indian Nations Council of Boy Scouts, First Presbyterian Church, Tulsa Historical Society and the Philbrook Museum of Art. Stephenson also was inducted into the Tulsa Hall of Fame in 2000, honored with the Tulsa Humanitarian Award in 2002, and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oklahoma in 2004.
In addition to his community involvement, Stephenson serves as a founding partner of Regent Private Capital, which provides start-up capital for companies. He also recently co-founded Premier Natural Resources.