Obituary of Jack Frizzell
Jack Q. Frizzell of Abilene passed away peacefully at Hendrick Hospice on Saturday, April 14th, 2018 due to complications from a stroke. He was 94 years of age.
Jack Q. Frizzell was born June 24, 1923 to J.O. "Tad" and Frances Atilla (Matzen) Frizzell. Life for the man who later came to be known as "Lucky Jack" began on farmland 12 miles north of Weslaco in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, the land being cleared at the time of dense cactus and mesquite forests well-populated with rattlesnakes and wild animals. He and his sister Bettie moved with the family to Weslaco after the good life on the farm came to an end as the family land was sold off in the depths of the Great Depression. Three more siblings were born to the Frizzell family, sister Ann and brothers J.O. "Joe" and Gayle "Skippy", with all five of the children graduating from Weslaco High School by the late 1940's.
After joining the U.S. Navy in September 1942, Jack earned his rating as an Aerographers Mate and was then assigned to Naval Intelligence as a cryptanalyst of Japanese encoded messages. He spent the rest of his duty at CINCPAC (Admiral Chester Nimitz's command headquarters) near Pearl Harbor with a 500-man intelligence corps deciphering daily encoded transmissions from the numerous enemy-occupied South Pacific islands. He was honorably discharged in December 1945. Jack returned to the Rio Grande Valley and enrolled under the G.I. Bill at Edinburg Junior College. There he met the beautiful Patsy Ann Day whose father was engaged in engineering and construction projects in the Valley. Jack often recounted the story of his first meeting with his future wife, in which he had to break through a crowd of fellow ex-soldiers who were vying for the attention of this blue-eyed firecracker with a magnetic personality. Jack won the battle and the two were married on June 21, 1947. Both newlyweds enrolled at the University of Texas in September 1947. Pat studied business and worked as secretary to Governors Beauford H. Jester and Allan Shivers while Jack studied geology and worked at the Texas Board of Water Engineers. Their first son Allan D. Frizzell of Abilene was born September 7, 1949. Jack and Pat moved to Plainview after graduation where Jack continued his work with the TBWE while looking for jobs in the oil field, which were few and far between in those years.
The beginning of Jack's good fortune in the oil business came to be in November 1950, when he was employed as a geologist for Delaware Drillers, a San Angelo based company owned by Richard King, Jr., a King Ranch heir who in Jack's words "thought I could do everything." In reality, Jack was learning as he went, perfecting skills that weren't taught in school, skills which later enabled him to find millions of barrels of oil throughout Texas and the American West. While living in San Angelo they were blessed with two more children, a son Lane Patrick, born on September 5th, 1951, and a daughter Joni Ann, born February 11th, 1954.
After the San Angelo-based drilling company was sold, Jack and Pat moved to Albuquerque, where in 1955 Jack entered the booming search for uranium in the Four Corners Area of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. With the discovery of a promising deposit north of Grants, New Mexico, Jack was able to sell out and return to Texas where he would re-enter the oil business. They spent ten years in Abilene, and then moved to Denver where Jack served as President of International Energy Company. They returned to Abilene in 1972 and founded Frizzell Exploration with Allan and later Lane upon their graduation from Texas Tech University. Joni returned to Abilene after graduating from Texas Tech in 1975.
Working together with his beloved wife Pat and two sons, Jack survived the booms and busts of the Texas oil business for 45 years. From 1972 he oversaw the exploration of several fields in six Texas counties and participated in the drilling of over 500 wells in Texas, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Utah. Enrich Oil expanded its activities beyond geological exploration and operations at various points over the years, owning interests in Frontier Drilling Corporation, Bilbo Well Service Company, and the still-active Crescent Supply Company of Abilene. Many in the geological community considered Jack to be a scholar and mentor who was always ready to share his encyclopedic knowledge. During the last years of his life he was especially engaged in looking for oil reserves on the River Lake Ranch, a co-investment by Enrich Oil in a large tract of land on the Colorado River in Runnels County. After several attempts and the passing of his beloved wife in October 2017, Jack's dream of finding oil on the ranch finally came true with the discovery of a deposit of oil and gas in the Odom Limestone formation. Never one to retire, even at 94 years of age, he was preparing to drill again, perfecting his subsurface mapping and zeroing in on the next location when he suffered a stroke at his home.
Though Jack was an accomplished and respected oilman, perhaps the greatest legacy of his long life is the love he shared with Pat. For over 70 years they were an inseparable pair. They enjoyed the bounteous times and endured the lean times – always together. Their greatest joy was their family, and they participated in every event in the lives of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. On vacations to Disneyworld, Hawaii, and family reunions in California, the growing Frizzell clan traveled together, laughing and playing in one big group, with Jack "Baba" and Pat "Granny" at the head. They loved nothing better than to throw a big party where friends and family could eat, drink, and dance to the music of Lane's band, Slim Chance and the Survivors. When Pat's health declined, Jack cared for her at their home with the help of dedicated caregivers until the very end.
Jack is especially known for his charity and generosity, a trait he inherited from his father. Wherever he went he left a trail of kindness, expressing his appreciation for the work of every laborer no matter their social status, and making sure everyone's needs were met. Even animals were beneficiaries of his concern – stray dogs and cats as well as the ducks who roamed his property next to the golf-course pond were sure to find sustenance from his hands.
Jack was preceded in death by his father J.O. "Tad" Frizzell, his mother Frances Matzen Frizzell, his brothers Joe and Skippy Frizzell, sisters Bettie Buchanan and Ann Carter, wife Patsy Ann, and son Lane Patrick Frizzell.
He is survived by his son Allan Douglas and his wife Linda Ruth (Long) Frizzell of Abilene, his daughter-in-law Miriam Holly (Lutz) Frizzell of Abilene, his daughter Joni Ann and son-in-law Bill O. Wood of Abilene, and seven grandchildren: Tad Frizzell, Jill Frizzell Flores and husband Chano, Matthew Frizzell and wife Clare, Nicholas Wood and wife Mary Beth, Britni Wood and fiancé Jeremy McCarter, Kelsey Wood Sheets and husband Eric and Jenny Frizzell Garcia and husband Raul. He is also survived by great-grandchildren Jack Allan Flores, Caroline Flores, Tad Flores, Quentin Garcia, Eloise Frizzell, Charlotte Wood, Penelope Garcia and Tillie Frances Sheets, due to arrive in May.
Friends are invited to join the family for a visitation and celebration of Jack's life at the Abilene Country Club Tuesday, April 17th, 2018, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. A funeral service will be held at First Baptist Church Wednesday, April 18th at 10:00 a.m. with Dr. Phil Christopher presiding, directed by The Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road, Abilene. Roy Yates, Cactus Schroeder, Scott Tarpley, David Towe, Jim Parramore, Mike Harris, and Steve Pickett will serve as pallbearers.
Memorials may be given to Hendrick Hospice Care, 1651 Pine St. Abilene, Texas 79601, The West Texas Rehabilitation Center, 4601 Hartford St. Abilene, Texas 79606, The Alzheimer's Association, 301 S. Pioneer Drive, Suite 105, Abilene, Texas 79605 or the charity of your choice.
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