John G. O'Brien to Receive Pinnacle Award Longtime West Texas A&M University supporter John G. O’Brien of Amarillo will be honored as the recipient of the University’s coveted 2009 Pinnacle Award at the WTAMU Foundation’s annual dinner Thursday, Jan. 28 at the Amarillo Country Club.
The Foundation’s first Pinnacle Award was presented in 2005 to recognize an outstanding donor who not only supports the University financially, but also gives of their time and labor to promote WTAMU in the community, and O’Brien definitely exemplifies that pinnacle of philanthropy.
O’Brien, 92, has been a long-time supporter of education in the Texas Panhandle. He has sponsored scholarships at Amarillo College and Texas A&M University and in late 2008, the John G. O’Brien Distinguished Chair in Education was established at WTAMU. He also has served on the Amarillo College Foundation Board, and his family has established the O’Brien Education Foundation.
“Education is real important to me,” O’Brien said. “I never finished my education, which I‘ve always regretted. I think it’s real important to have good teachers for our children, and that’s why I’m very supportive of West Texas A&M University. It’s a great school.”
O’Brien grew up in Amarillo and attended Texas A&M University. He quit school and came back home to work with his father in ranching and in the oil and gas business. O’Brien realized that he preferred the oil and gas business over cattle and ranching and later founded a company that is now known as Mesa Petroleum. He has spent many years working in the oil and gas business in the Panhandle and even at the age of 92 continues to work.
“When I want to go to work, I go, and when I don’t, I don’t,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed my life very, very much, especially with my children, grandchildren and now my great grandchildren.”