Benjamin Brewster Jennings (June 9, 1898 — October 2, 1968) was a founder and president of the Socony-Vacuum company, which became, in 1955, the Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony), which would later become Mobil Oil, and then merged to become part of ExxonMobil.
Early life and family
B. B. Jennings was born to Oliver Gould Jennings and Mary Dows Brewster. Both his paternal grandfather Oliver Burr Jennings and his maternal grandfather Benjamin Brewster (after whom he was named) had helped Standard Oil co-founder John Davison Rockefeller and had become his partners in running the Standard Oil Trust. Both men had gone west in the California Gold Rush and had set up a successful dry goods merchandise business, outfitting prospecting camps along the coast and around Sacramento. B. B. Jennings's paternal grandmother, Esther Judson Goodsell, was sisters with Almira Geraldine Goodsell. Almira was the wife of Standard Oil co-founder William Avery Rockefeller, Jr., brother of John D. Rockefeller.
Jennings was raised in Fairfield, Connecticut, where his father had built a forty-room French Renaissance style home called the Mailands. The building later became part of the campus of Fairfield University and was renamed McAuliffe Hall. He attended St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. During World War I he served in the United States Navy as an ensign on a submarine chaser and was awarded the Navy Cross.
In 1920 he graduated from Yale University, where he was tapped for the secret society Scroll and Key. He continued his involvement with Yale as an alumnus, serving as a member of the Yale Corporation Council and as chairman of the Yale Development Committee.
On June 18, 1923, Jennings married Kate deForest Prentice (July 7, 1903 — August 18, 1994), daughter of John Hill Prentice and Kate Sheldon Harrison. They had three children: Mary Brewster Jennings (who married Paul J. Chase), Kate deForest Jennings (who married Harry H. Webb), and John Prentice Jennings.
After his graduation from Yale in 1920, Jennings began his career as a clerk in the marine department of the Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony). He became a purchasing agent, then manager of the company's real estate department, and then assistant to the president. In 1939, eight years after Socony merged with Vacuum Oil to form Socony-Vacuum, he was appointed to the board of directors and put in charge of transportation.
In 1942 Jennings left the company to become assistant director of tanker operations in the United States Maritime Commission and then assistant deputy administrator for tanker operations of the War Shipping Administration. He was awarded the presidential certificate of merit for outstanding contributions to the war effort.
He was also one of the first recipients of the Navy's Distinguished Public Service Award in October 1952, honored for his World War II services in the War Shipping Administration.
After the end of the war he returned to the company and was named president and chairman of the executive committee. In 1955 he became chairman of the board and continued as chairman of the executive committee. Also in 1955, the company changed its name to Socony Mobil (renamed Mobil Oil Corporation in 1966). During his tenure as chief executive officer the company experienced rapid expansion, tripling its worldwide gross crude production.
Jennings was vice president in charge of the transportation division of the American Petroleum Institute in 1947–1948 and its treasurer in 1949–1950. He was also a trustee of the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research and the Avalon Foundation.
Jennings continued as chief executive officer of Socony Mobil until his retirement in 1958. In 1968 he died at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City after a short illness. He was 70 years old and lived in Glen Head, New York.
- "B. Brewster Jennings Is Dead". The New York Times. 1968-10-03. p. 47. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
- "High-Flying Horse", Time, February 11, 1952, accessed May 5, 2007.
- Vincent Ferraro, Ruth C. Lawson Professor of International Politics, Mount Holyoke College, "The Forrestal Diaries", inc. bibliographical reference for Walter Millis, ed. The Forrestal Diaries (New York: The Viking Press, 1951); rpt. of "Entry of 6 January 1948 on a Discussion with Brewster Jennings, President of Socony-Vacuum on the Importance the Palestine Issue to Middle Eastern Oil, p. 272", online posting on Professor Ferraro's grant-supported webpage at Mount Holyoke College, accessed May 5, 2007.
- Nicholas E. Hollis, "Jennings Farm: Nurturing Education and Entrepreneurial Spirits", Educational Pioneers, Jennings Heritage Project, n.d., accessed May 5, 2007.
- McCash, June Hall (1998). The Jekyll Island Cottage Colony. University of Georgia Press. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-8203-1928-5.
- "McAuliffe Hall". Digital Archives @ DiMenna-Nyselius Library. Fairfield University. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
- Giamatti, A. Bartlett (1978). History of Scroll and Key, 1942-1972. The Scroll and Key Society.
- "B.B. Jennings Weds Miss Kate Prentice". The New York Times. 1923-06-19. p. 19. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
- The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Supplement I. James T. White. 1910. p. 103.
- "Presidential Awards Go to 8 for War Work". The New York Times. 1947-10-31. p. 28. Retrieved 2008-12-10.