Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin

Head shot of Joe C. Walter, Jr.

Joseph Charles Walter, Jr., or Joe as he was widely known, was a Houston native, the son of Gladys Hoskins and Joseph Charles Walter, Sr., an oil and gas landman. Born in 1927, he completed Lamar High School and graduated from UT Austin with his BSPE in 1949, and an MA in Geology in 1951.

Walter’s career began right out of college in the form of an apprenticeship with Jersey Standard/Humble, where he plied his petroleum and geology education towards evaluating oil reserves.  He met and soon married Elizabeth Cowden (UT BS Elementary Education, ’51), of Midland, and began his family.

In 1957, after daughter Carol Walter Looke and son J. C. Walter III (Rusty) were born, Joe set up shop in association with his father's business, Houston Royalty Company.  After the passing of Joe Sr. and his partner Irwin Smith, Joe Jr. and his partners bought controlling interest in, and later merged with, Royalties Management Co. from Tulsa.  This led to the creation of Houston Oil and Minerals.

Houston Oil and Minerals went public in the late 1960s, developing a major gas play in the Frio of Galveston Bay, growing soon to a number of international projects ranging from the North Sea to Africa, the Middle East, South America and Australia.  Houston Oil and Minerals included a substantial coal business as well, eventually growing to have the fourth largest mineral position in the US.  Before negotiating a merger with Tenneco in 1981, Walter built Houston Oil and Minerals from a start-up to a 1400 employee company with five divisions.

After a heart transplant at Methodist Hospital performed by Dr. Jimmy Howell, Walter took two years off but soon found himself forming another company in 1983, Walter Oil and Gas.  During this time he also served as the President of the Petroleum Club in Houston.  Between that time and his death June 14, 1997, Joe continued his business interests with Walter International and Walter Oil and Gas International.

Beyond his business interests, Walter was a major force behind Houston's Methodist Hospital and Methodist Health Care system, and St. Luke's United Methodist Church.  He loved to hunt birds on his 'farm' near Brownwood and was an avid woodworker.  Joe received many honors from The University of Texas at Austin, including:  Distinguished Engineering Graduate, 1977; Distinguished Geology Graduate, 1984; Texas Exes Distinguished Alumnus, 1985; College of Natural Sciences Hall of Honor, 1995; and Geology Hall of Distinction, 2006.


Contact Catherine Campbell at 512-471-3208