William C. Liedtke Jr., former business partner of President Bush who co-founded Pennzoil Co. and helped turn it into one of the nation's largest oil companies, has died of cancer at age 66.
His son, William Liedtke III, said Liedtke died Friday.
Liedtke headed Pogo Producing Co., an exploration and production company that was spun off from Pennzoil in 1977. Pogo, which took its name from Pennzoil Offshore Gas Operators, was set up to look for natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico.
A native of Tulsa, Liedtke began his career as a lawyer and oilman in Midland.
Liedtke and his brother, Hugh, got their start in the oil business after serving as naval officers in the South Pacific during World War II. In the mid-1950s, they teamed up with then-oilman George Bush and John K. Overbey to form Zapata Petroleum Co.
Bush and his wife, Barbara, "are deeply saddened at the loss of our very dear and close friend," they said Saturday in a statement.
"Bill was an outstanding member of his community, first in Midland and then in Houston. Our sincere condolences go out to all the Liedtke family. We will miss him very much."
In 1960, the brothers began a cooperative drilling program with South Penn Oil Co. and set up Stetco Petroleum, of which Liedtke was president. In 1963, Zapata Petroleum and Stetco merged with South Penn, which was soon renamed Pennzoil after its nationally known lube oil trademark.
Liedtke served as president of Pennzoil from 1967 to 1977, when he became chairman and chief executive officer of Pogo. Pennzoil is the nation's 14th-largest oil company.