"Instrumental in one of the greatest deals in the petrochemical industry, J. Virgil Waggoner is an inspiration to us all for his brilliant entrepreneurship, his support of education and his leadership in business and in the community," said Arnold Thackray, CHF president. "For more than half a century, Virgil has served the petrochemical industry and his career provides a shining example in business, in education and in community service."
About J. Virgil Waggoner
J. Virgil Waggoner's distinguished career as a leading petrochemical industry executive began in 1950, when he joined Monsanto Company in Texas City as a research chemist. Switching from research to marketing, he steadily moved up and before long was senior vice president. He then became president of El Paso Products, the chemicals division of El Paso Company. In 1985, after leaving El Paso and becoming an independent consultant, he used his knowledge of the Monsanto-Texas City plant to team up with entrepreneur Gordon Cain, negotiating the leverage buy-out of the plant and forming the legendary Sterling Chemicals. Waggoner served as president and CEO of Sterling, from its inception in 1986 until its privatization and his retirement a decade later. He continued as vice chairman of the board until May 1998. Under his leadership, Sterling Chemicals became a public company and has been included in both the Forbes 500 and Fortune 500 lists.
In 1993 Waggoner and his wife, June, formed the Waggoners Foundation. A major gift to the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) established a research center to investigate the molecular genetics of alcohol dependence. Longtime supporters of cancer-related research, the Waggoners were named 1997 Pacesetters by the Cancer League. They have also been honorees of the American Heart Association, Northwest Harris County Division, Boys and Girls Country, the UT Austin Development Board, and Houston's Council on Alcohol and Drugs, for which they funded a speaker series in memory of their late son, Jay. Waggoner was selected as a UT Austin distinguished alumnus for 2000.
Since his retirement from Sterling, Waggoner has initiated a number of new business ventures. He is a senior founding principal of the Legacy Equity Group, a merchant banking firm dedicated to the "everybody wins" investment philosophy. Meanwhile, he continues to emphasize his commitment to global needs and the "bridge-building" thrust of his family's philanthropy. He participates in many civic and community activities. His board and advisory leadership roles include the College of Natural Sciences at UT Austin, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors, University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center, Baylor College of Medicine, WaterHealth International, the Good Samaritan Foundation, and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Other past involvements include advisory roles with Phyto-Riker Pharmaceuticals, GulfWest Energy Company, Ouachita Baptist University, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and Sterling Chemicals.
The Petrochemical Heritage Award
CHF and the Founders Club established the Petrochemical Heritage Award in 1997 to recognize individuals who made outstanding contributions to the petrochemical community; to inspire achievement; and to promote public understanding of the modern sciences, industries, and economies. Past recipients of the award are T.T. Chao, founder of Westlake Chemicals; William A. McMinn, Jr., former president of Cain Chemical; Harold A. Sorgenti, former president and chief executive officer of ARCO Chemical Company; Herbert D. "Ted" Doan, former chairman and CEO of the Dow Chemical Company; Jon M. Huntsman, founder of Huntsman Corporation; Gordon Cain, well-known chemical engineer and business entrepreneur; John T. Files, founder and chairman of the Merichem Company; John R. Hall, chemical engineer and former president, chairman, and CEO of Ashland; and Ralph Landau, cofounder of Halcon/Scientific Design Group.
About the Founders Club
The Founders Club was established in 1981 by a group of petrochemical industry executives. The club's purpose is to recognize individuals whose successful careers have spanned 25 years of service in the petrochemical industry.
About the Chemical Heritage Foundation
The Chemical Heritage Foundation serves the community of the chemical and molecular sciences, and the wider public, by treasuring the past, educating the present, and inspiring the future. CHF carries out a program of outreach and interpretation in order to advance an understanding of the role of the chemical and molecular sciences, technologies, and industries in shaping society; maintains a world-class collection of materials that document the history and heritage of the chemical and molecular sciences, technologies, and industries; and encourages research and education.