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Wentz, Louis (Lew) | 1942

  • Birth and Death Year | 1877 - 1949
  • Induction Year | 1942
  • Profession | Oilman
  • Oklahoma Connection | Wentz was sent to Ponca City, Oklahoma in 1911 to develop oil leases for John McCaskey.
  • Hometown | Ponca City

Quote

“When you mention my name, emphasize the ‘We’ in Wentz.” - Lew Wentz

Fun Fact

Lew Wentz loved baseball and organized a semi-pro team in Pennsylvania after high school. Near the end of his life he almost bought the St. Louis Cardinals but decided against it when he realized he would have to move away from Ponca City.

Bio

Louis Haines (Lew) Wentz was born in Iowa and raised in Pennsylvania. A star baseball player in high school, he later coached All-Pittsburgh high school teams and was volunteering for the Republican Party when he met John McCaskey, who was developing oil leases in Kay County, Oklahoma. Even though Mr. Wentz knew nothing about the business, McCaskey was impressed with him and sent him to Ponca City in 1911 to oversee the leases. Mr. Wentz became a partner in the venture and slowly developed the leases until 1918, when they began “hitting in a big way.” He made his first million in 1920 and began developing the Tonkawa pool in 1922. By 1927 he was making one million dollars every month from his own Wentz Oil Corporation.

Best known across Oklahoma for his endless philanthropy, Lew Wentz organized the Oklahoma Society for Crippled Children, founded a camp for boys and girls organizations in Ponca City, and created a wild game sanctuary near Ponca City. He also led the movement for laws to help crippled children, constructed a state hospital for crippled children, and served as a member and chairman of the Oklahoma State Highway Commission for six years.