Aug. 8, 2017 — University of Houston Law Center alumnus Richard L. "Rick" George '77, considered a pioneer in Canada's oil sands industry as CEO of Suncor Energy Inc., died Aug. 1 after an 18-month battle with myeloid leukemia. He was 67.
Raised in Brush, Colo., he began working for a local pipeline company while still studying engineering at Colorado State University. After graduating in 1973, he joined Texaco Inc. in Houston and earned his J.D. at nights at the then UH Bates College of Law.
"I had the honor to meet Rick at breakfast in March 2017 when I was last in Calgary," said Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes. "We had a great conversation in which he shared with me his appreciation of how graduating from the Law Center changed his life. He said the legal education he received while working during the day and attending class at night helped him think more broadly and better analyze problems. He attributed his legal education at UH as one of the pillars that contributed to his success in the business world."
George worked in the U.K. for Sun Co. Inc., before joining the then Toronto-based Suncor as president and chief operating officer in 1990. He was appointed a year later as its chief executive, serving in that role until he retired in 2012. The company's oil sands operation had been in operation for more than two decades when he assumed the top job, but was struggling with high costs and low oil prices.
Under his leadership, he developed the company, based in Calgary, Alberta, into Canada's largest integrated energy company and oversaw the 2009 takeover of Petro-Canada, a fuel distributor and retailer.
"Rick's impact on the oil sands industry, the Canadian business community, and the broader community has been immeasurable," Steve Williams, Suncor's current chief executive, said in a statement.
George also served on the boards of Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Osum Oil Sands Corp., Royal Bank of Canada and Obsidian Energy Ltd. and was a partner at Novo Investment Group.
Survivors include his widow, Julie, and their children Matthew, Zachary and Emily.