Chevron Press Release - R. Gwin Follis, Retired Chevron Chairman And Ceo Dies
SAN FRANCISCO, May 10 -- R. Gwin Follis, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Chevron Corporation, died Monday of cancer at his home in San Francisco. He was 93.
Follis retired in 1966 after a distinguished 42-year career with Chevron (then known as Standard Oil of California), including more than 16 years spent leading the corporation as chairman and chief executive officer. Under his leadership, Chevron expanded from a predominantly western U.S.-based company to the ninth-largest U.S. corporation, based on total assets at the time, and company earnings more than doubled.
He joined Chevron in 1924 after earning a bachelor of science degree in physics and geology from Princeton University. He began his career with the company in the refining organization, eventually becoming general manager of the group in 1940. Follis was elected president and director of Chevron in 1945. In 1948, he was elected vice chairman of the board, and in 1950, he became chairman.
Upon his retirement in 1966, the board of directors stated, "His contributions to the expansion and well-being of the company are measurable in the statistics of growth: There is no area of operations in which the company has not progressed impressively, at a faster rate than the oil industry or the economy as a whole."
Follis played key roles in the company's U.S. and international operations, including the acquisition of Standard Oil Company (Kentucky), which provided Chevron with extensive representation in the southeast United States. In addition, he was a champion of research and its value to the growing corporation. He was instrumental in the formation of Chevron Research Company, which centralized Chevron's research facilities.
For more than two decades, he was associated with the management of Chevron's widespread foreign activities and traveled in that capacity, particularly to the Middle East, where he came to know King Ibn Saud and King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, the Shah of Iran, the Sheik of Bahrain and other world figures.
Follis was also a founder and chairman of the National Petroleum Council, the advisory group established in 1946 to counsel the federal government on oil industry matters. He served as a director of the American Petroleum Institute and was chairman of the National Industrial Conference Board.
At his retirement, Chevron's board also cited his long-history of civic and community service stating, "It would be sufficient for Mr. Follis ... to distinguish himself as an extraordinarily able executive. But he went well beyond this to become, as well, a notable leader and spokesman for the industry, and a public-spirited citizen whose devotion to the welfare of his community will long reflect credit on the company which he represented."
Follis was instrumental in bringing the Avery Brundage Oriental art collection to San Francisco and was a trustee of the Asian Art Museum. In addition, he was a former director of the First National City Bank, Crocker National Bank, Stanford Research Institute, The Asia Foundation, The San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts League and the San Francisco Opera Association.
He was a trustee of Princeton University, American University of Beirut, the M. H. De Young Memorial Museum, Grace Cathedral, Children's Hospital and the San Francisco Art Institute. He served on the San Francisco Public Schools Commission and was a member of numerous other business, civic and cultural organizations.
Follis was the great grandson of U.S. Senator William M. Gwin, a leader in the California Constitutional Convention and in the admission of California to the Union.
He is survived by his wife, Ann; son James Gwin Follis of Philo; daughter Mary Van Voorhees of Greenbrae; and three grandchildren, Dr. Camilla Van Voorhees, Lesley Van Voorhees and Tracy James Van Voorhees.
Private services will be held at Grace Cathedral. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be sent to the Asian Art Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118.
Updated: May 1995