Santa Rita

Santa Rita
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Why Santa Rita?

Mr. Frank Pickrell was one of the partners responsible for the drilling of the Santa Rita No. 1 . The reason for the name "Santa Rita" is best told in Frank Pickrell's own words:

"The name of Santa Rita really originated in New York.  Some of the stock salesmen had encouraged a group of Catholic women to invest in the Group I certificates.  These women became a little worried about the wisdom of their investment and consulted with their priest.  He apparently was also somewhat skeptical and suggested that the women invoke the aid of Santa Rita, who was the patron saint of the impossible.  As I was leaving New York on one of my subsequent trips to the field, two of these women handed me a sealed envelope and told me that the envelope contained a red rose that had been blessed by the priest in the name of the saint.  The women asked me to take the rose back to Texas with me -- to climb to the top of the derrick and scatter the rose petals, which by then were dry, over the rig and to say 'I hereby christen thee Santa Rita'.  I faithfully followed those instructions."



Santa Rita No. 1 - History

  • From 1917 - 1919 more than 5000 oil and gas exploration permits were issued by the General Land Office for University Lands.

  • No exploration was attempted until 1921.

  • On August 23, 1921 (just four hours prior to the expiration of the applicable permit) the historic Santa Rita No. 1 was spudded in Section 2, Block 2, University Lands, Reagan County.

  • Drilling continued for almost two years at the drill site, which was isolated by a shortage of adequate roads and limited transportation facilities.  It has been said that the only sounds came from the rig, roadrunners, and rattlesnakes.

  • Finally the historic day arrived on May 28, 1923, when a rattlesnake noise began at the well bore and changed to the sound of a wild prairie wind.  Santa Rita came in with oil blowing over the top of the derrick and spraying the countryside. The first well drilled on University Lands, Santa Rita No. 1, was officially transformed into a bona fide oil well.

  • The first oil royalty payment to the Permanent University Fund was made on August 24, 1923 in the amount of $516.53. 



The Santa Rita Award

The Santa Rita Award is the highest award that is bestowed by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System. Santa Rita, the discovery oil well whose resources transformed The University of Texas, was named after the patron saint of the impossible. The recipients of the Santa Rita Award have in their own way overcome the impossible as they furthered the transformation of The University of Texas as a University of the First Class.

The Santa Rita Award, presented on an occasional rather than a regular basis, recognizes:

  • a demonstrated concern for the principles of higher education generally,
  • a deep commitment to the furtherance of the purposes and objectives of The University of Texas System,
  • a record of commitment to securing appropriate financial support for the System from both the public and private sectors, and
  • a demonstrated record of participation in the affairs of the System which serves as a high example of selfless and public-spirited service.

Miss Ima Hogg received the first Santa Rita Award in 1968. The Award consists of a bronze medallion. The award was conceived and initially financed by Dr. H. F. Connally, Jr., as a major Systemwide award. Dr. Connally, of Waco, was responsible for having the medallion designed and he paid for the first medallions. Additionally, he was instrumental in assuring that the first copies of the book, Santa Rita--The Highest Award, were published.


Recipients of Santa Rita Award:

Date announced at
Board Meeting

Date of
Santa Rita event

Name of Recipient

 

06/08/1968

Miss Ima Hogg

05/02/1969

05/31/1969

Hines H. Baker

05/02/1969

06/02/1969

Eugene McDermott

03/06/1970

05/27/1971

Harry H. Ransom

06/14/1974

05/18/1974

Cecil H. Green

06/14/1974

06/08/1974

John W. McCullough

07/25/1975

12/11/1975

John H. Freeman

07/09/1976

09/30/1976

Mary Moody Northen

07/29/1977

12/15/1977

John Erik Jonsson

06/14/1985

10/23/1985

Lt. Governor William P. Hobby, Jr.

08/15/1986

12/10/1986

Peter O'Donnell

12/08/1988

02/01/1989

Larry E. Temple

08/08/1991

10/10/1991

Jess Hay

08/12/1993

02/09/1994

Jack S. Blanton

08/08/1996

10/24/1996

Lt. Governor Bob Bullock

08/10/2000

10/10/2000

Peter T. Flawn

08/08/2002

10/09/2002

Wales H. Madden, Jr.

07/16/2004

10/11/2004

Margaret McDermott

11/16/2006

02/28/2007

Frank Denius

02/07/2008

04/14/2008

Bernard Rapoport

11/13/2008

02/11/2009

The Honorable Dolph Briscoe, Jr.

08/19/2009

02/04/2010

The Honorable William P. Clements, Jr.

08/19/2009

02/04/2010

Rita Crocker Clements

11/11/2010

02/17/2011

James R. Huffines 

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