Samuel Lloyd Noble

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Samuel Lloyd Noble, known as Lloyd Noble (30 November 1896, Ardmore, Oklahoma – 14 February 1950, Houston, Texas), was an oilman and philanthropist, founder of the Noble Corporation and the The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.[1] He attended Southeastern Normal College in Durant, Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma.[2] Lloyd Noble’s life has made a long-term difference to people in Oklahoma, where he is recognized as one of the fifty most influential Oklahomans of the 20th century.[3] But, his achievements have had an impact worldwide. Noble was raised in a family of hardware merchants, whose store was built in Ardmore, Oklahoma, then a part of the Chickasaw Indian Territory.[4] As a young man, Noble attended college in Durant, Oklahoma, earning a teaching certificate. He then taught school, but quit to attend college at the University of Oklahoma. His pursuit of higher education was cut short when he quit to help his ailing father with the family business. After his father died, he enlisted in the U. S. Navy in 1918, and was discharged the following year after the armistice was signed that ended World War I.

Lloyd Noble began his career in the early years of oil drilling in the state, founding the Noble Drilling Company on April 1, 1921.[5] The company began using Hughes Simplex rock bits created by the Hughes Tool Company in the 1920s and was noted for adopting new technologies, a company trait inherited from its founder, known for his interests in and use of aviation, geoscience and other emerging developments of the century.[4][5] Monies made in the oil drilling business funded the creation of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, a charitable organization charged with undertaking philanthropy and advancing agricultural practices and science.

Noble had an industry-wide reputation for accepting challenging operations, being aggressive in drilling and returning value to those that hired him. One example of his living up to this reputation is Noble’s acceptance of an unlikely task – improving the United Kingdom’s oil production in the middle of World War II. The Sherwood Forest project is an example of a Noble’s independence, concern and enthusiasm for a challenge. During World War II, England needed oil and sent an emissary to request the help of a number of American oil drillers. Noble was willing to risk his rigs and crew in the top secret endeavor to quickly drill multiple wells in a small oil field in Sherwood Forest.[6] The endeavor relied on Noble Drilling’s superior use of technology to drill 106 wells in one year from March 1943 to March 1944. The production of the field increased from 700 barrels a day to over 3,000 barrels a day.[5] Illustrative of Noble’s concern for the general welfare, his company took no profit from the operation. As a manager, Noble was known to reward hard working employees throughout his company by including them in a share of profits for successful wells.[4] Another example of Noble’s commitment to improving the world was his commitment to education and public service.

Lloyd Noble served as a regent for the University of Oklahoma from 1934 to 1948.[4] Two qualities that typify the importance of his service to the university’s development were his ability to recognize and recruit talent, whether it be faculty, administrators or coaches; and, his vision of how the development of a football program could propel the state forward out of the economic and psychological Dust Bowl-depression stagnation of the 1930s.[7] His concern about the negative impact of The Dust Bowl on the state was also his guide in the creation of the Samuel Robert’s Noble Foundation. Perhaps the clearest statement of his principled life and one which illustrates why he formed the foundation, was in an address recorded by him in 1950, “No man can have assurance for himself and his posterity living for himself alone. In order to have things for one’s self, one must join in the defense of those same things for others.”[4]

Before his early death, Lloyd Noble established the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in 1945, a foundation dedicated to advancing agricultural science.[8] Today the Foundation is the largest private agricultural and plant science research institution in the United States. It is also the largest private foundation in the state and is in the top 50 in the U. S. in the size of its assets.[9] Service to a greater good was the founding principle for the Foundation. Noble, flying over acres of The Dust Bowl-devastated farmland, conceived of the foundation’s mission to advance agricultural science and practice in a sustainable way, thereby safeguarding the land and soils for future generations.[8] The legacy of Lloyd Noble remains today through the ongoing charitable operations of the Noble Foundation and the global oil and gas exploration of Noble Corporation (NYSE NE), formerly Noble Drilling, and domestic oil and gas production of Noble Energy (NYSE: NBL), formerly Samedan. Together, they exemplify Noble's words, "It will mean very little as future critics view a period as to whether an individual, a community or a state has been prosperous, or has had immense wealth. The obligation that rests squarely on the shoulders of each generation is not what they inherit, what they have handed to them, what they acquire from the standpoint of wealth or position, but what they do with the wealth and power they have in their hand..." .”[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NOBLE, SAMUEL LLOYD (1896-1950)". Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  2. ^ Shottenkirk, Marcia (2007). "Century Club: Samuel Lloyd Noble". The Journal Record. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  3. ^ Breedlove, J. and S. Corcoran (2009). "The 50 most influential Oklahomans". Oklahoma Today. pp. 13–33. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Faulk, O.B., L.E. Faulk, and S.M. Gray (1995). Imagination and ability: The life of Lloyd Noble. Western Heritage Books. pp. 6–13. ISBN 0-86546-090-6. 
  5. ^ a b c Rodengen, J. L. (2001). Legend of Noble Drilling. Write Stuff Enterprises. pp. 15–16. ISBN 0-945903-71-5. 
  6. ^ Woodward, Guy H. and G. S. Woodward (1973). The secret of Sherwood Forest: Oil production in England during World War II. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 18–46. ISBN 0-8061-3433-X. 
  7. ^ Trotter, J. (2011). "Noble changed more than football". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation mission-vision-values statements". Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. 2013. Archived from the original on 2013. Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation at-a-glance". Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. 2013. Archived from the original on 2013. Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  10. ^ Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation Communications Department (1995). Tracing our steps: A history of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation 1945-1995. Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. p. 28.