When Joe M. Parsley retired after more than 30 years in the oil and gas industry, he left behind a legacy of successful, independent Texas oil companies.
Parsley graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1951 with a degree in petroleum engineering and began his career as a reservoir engineer for Marathon Oil Corporation. In 1952, he settled in Midland, Texas, and worked for Forest Oil Corp. and then Inca Drilling Co. After teaming up with geologist Howard Parker (BS Geology 1942) on a drilling job for an independent oil company, the two formed Parker & Parsley Petroleum Co. over a handshake in 1962.
Parsley’s entrepreneurial spirit, technical skills and strategic approach ensured that Parker & Parsley capitalized on booms and survived busts. Parsley officially retired in 1985 and maintained a close friendship with Parker. The company went public in 1991. In a merger spearheaded by son-in-law and fellow 2016 Petroleum Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Scott Sheffield, Parker & Parsley joined with MESA, Inc. in 1997 to become Pioneer Natural Resources, one of the largest independent oil companies in the nation. In 2015, Parsely and Parker were both inducted into the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum Hall of Fame.
Parsley was a strong supporter of UT Austin and the Cockrell School of Engineering. He was a generous contributor to the Friends of Alec Annual Giving Program and funded the Joe M. Parsley Scholarship Fund and the Joe M. Parsley Excellence Fund. He was a member of the UT System’s Chancellor’s Council, as well as the university’s President’s Association and Littlefield Society. The Cockrell School named Parsley a Distinguished Engineering Graduate in 2003.
Parsley passed away in November 2015 in Kemah, Texas. He is survived by his wife Lucy, two daughters, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.