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Self-Made Texas Tycoon, T. Boone Pickens Dies At 91

DALLAS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) -- Oilman T. Boone Pickens gained notoriety in the 1980's as a corporate raider and ended up a billionaire at one point.

In recent years, Pickens pushed hard in Dallas for independence from foreign oil. He rode a "T" transit bus powered by compressed natural gas in an effort to convince Dart to buy the same kind of buses instead of clean diesel.

"It's a domestic fuel. It's a cheaper fuel, why would you use foreign oil in place of something like that?" he asked.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones reminisced about his friend "Boone."

"He was inspirational. He was a man of sports; his love for competing – frankly – was unmatched. He had a lot of Romo in him. He was a natural born competitor," said Jones. "He really is a great face of what this system is about in this country. I will miss him."

Besides natural gas, Pickens unveiled his own United States energy policy and called wind the cure for what he called America's addiction to oil. But he ultimately dropped his plans for the world's largest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle. Still, in what surprised many in politics, Pickens endorsed a climate change bill pushed by Democratic Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

In 2004, Pickens helped finance the so-called "swift boat" ads that attacked Kerry during his challenge against former President George W. Bush. He sent CBS 11 News the following statement:

"T. Boone Pickens became a household name across the country because he was bold, imaginative, and daring. He was successful – and more importantly, he generously shared his success with institutions and communities across Texas and Oklahoma. He loved the outdoors, his country, and his friends and family, and Laura and I send our condolences."

Pickens will quite possibly always be remembered as the biggest booster of his beloved Oklahoma State University Cowboys.

He donated half a billion dollars to his Alma-Mater... and here in North Texas, where he lived, Pickens was well-known for his generosity.

Governor Greg Abbott spoke of Pickens' philanthropy is a statement about his death:

"Although born in Oklahoma, Texas has always considered T. Boone Pickens to be one of our own. He was a passionate man who always stood by his principles on his path to success. T. Boone Pickens' commitment to establishing American energy independence will have a lasting impact on the state of Texas, and the United States of America. Throughout his life and career, he generously gave to charitable causes to advance education, medical research, and humanitarian needs. I ask that all Texans join Cecilia and me in remembering the legacy of T. Boone Pickens, and keep him and his family in their prayers."

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry took to Twitter to issue a statement, where he referred to Pickens as a "Texas-sized legend."

He donated $2.5 million for a training center at Happy Hill Farm - now known as North Central Texas Academy, which is a private boarding and international Christian school near Granbury.

"If you could get in the hands of capable qualified people to do exactly what we've done here you could go from 1,000 to 10,000 to 20,000. The number could go anywhere," he said.

Pickens' also donated $50 million to UT Southwestern Medical Center.

And his $5 million gift helped upgrade the downtown Dallas YMCA.

Always altruistic, Pickens donated more than $18 million for the Pickens Hospice Center in Dallas.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz also issued a statement on Pickens' passing.

"T. Boone Pickens lived a life marked with kindness and generosity. Boone was a friend, and he was a legendary Texas entrepreneur. He was larger than life, had a passion for others, and embodied Texas values. An extraordinarily generous philanthropist and a passionate advocate for American energy independence, Boone will be remembered as a legend in the hearts of Texans and Oklahomans alike. Heidi and I send our condolences to the entire Pickens family as they grieve the loss of a loving father, grandfather, and friend. May he rest in peace."

Pickens leaves behind five children and at least a dozen grandchildren.

One of the richest people in the world, he made it his business to give back.


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