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Oil magnate Herbert Hunt — famous Texas wildcatter and developer — dies at 95

Hunt, son of H.L. Hunt, expanded the family’s oil holdings and fortune.

Oil wildcatter W. Herbert Hunt, a scion of the Hunt Oil dynasty who left a massive business and philanthropic footprint in Dallas and Texas, has died at the age of 95.

Hunt became one of the world’s most prominent oil barons and investors throughout his seven-decade career, following his father’s lead along with brothers — Nelson Bunker Hunt and Lamar Hunt — to form Petro-Hunt, growing rich on fossil fuel work in East Texas and later as property developers.

Hunt, born on March 6, 1929, died April 9.

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Hunt followed his father H.L. into the oil drilling and speculation business after finishing a Bachelor of Science degree in geology at Washington and Lee University, joining the family business that would create several billionaires and business titans.

Forbes estimated W. Herbert’s Hunt’s net worth at $5.3 billion in 2024, mostly from his ownership in the Petro-Hunt company, which had major oil patch holdings and operations in Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota.


Hunt used his fortune in oil to grow the footprint well outside of the energy industry into land purchases, including major developments that have shaped cities such as Richardson, Plano, Forney, Fate and more with major residential and industrial projects.

Hunt and his brothers Nelson Bunker and Lamar nearly went broke in the early 1980s after an attempt to corner the silver market with several billion dollars in holdings after a run-up in the commodity in previous years. At one point, they reportedly held more than one-third of the private silver holdings in the world, worth $4.5 billion. But after borrowing millions to finance the bet, the price dropped more than 50%, leading to a $1.7 billion loss. They were saved by a loan, but the bad investment was a major hit to the Hunt family’s fortunes, forcing the brothers to declare bankruptcy in 1988.

This May 2, 1980 file photo, shows multi-millionaire brothers Hunt, W. Herbert Hunt, left,...
This May 2, 1980 file photo, shows multi-millionaire brothers Hunt, W. Herbert Hunt, left, and Nelson Bunker Hunt.(The Associated Press / AP)

The Hunts made it through the incident and rebuilt their fortune in the fields of oil, real estate and finance.

Hunt’s family is one of the most successful oil dynasties in the country, and H.L. Hunt’s 15 children became major players across several fields.

Herbert Hunt’s oldest sister is Margaret Hunt Hill, namesake of the iconic bridge in Dallas. Another sister, Caroline Rose Hunt, is the founder of the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts company. His half-brother Ray Lee Hunt is another energy industry billionaire in Dallas, and his half-sister Swanee was a U.S. Ambassador to Austria.

Herbert Hunt’s nephew, Clark Hunt, is the owner and chairman of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and the family owns and has developed thousands of acres of residential and industrial property throughout North Texas. Lamar, Herbert’s brother and Clark’s father, was one of the pioneers of professional football in the United States and founder of the American Football League, which later merged with the NFL to form the modern sports league.

Herbert Hunt is survived by his wife Nancy and children Doug, Barbara Hunt Crow, Libby Allred, Bruce and David.

A service is planned for 3 p.m. April 23 at the Highland Park Presbyterian Church.

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