Radcliffe Killam

From Conservapedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Radcliffe Killam​

(Texas oilman, rancher,
and businessman)

Born July 1, 1910​
Grove, Delaware County

Oklahoma, USA

Died September 8, 2007 (aged 97)​
Laredo, Texas, USA ​
Spouse Sue Spivey Killam​

David Winfield Killam
Adrian Kathleen Killam
​ Tracy Killam DiLeo
​ Terry Killam Wilber (died 1989)​
Oliver Winfield Killam
​ Harriet "Hattie" Smith Killam​

Radcliffe Killam (July 1, 1910 – September 8, 2007) was a wealthy oilman, rancher, businessman, and philanthropist in Laredo, Texas. He was a particular benefactor of various educational and medical institutions. In 1997, Worth magazine cited the Killam family as one of the largest landowners in the United States, with 200,000 acres.[1] Part of the holdings includes the 125,000 Duval County Ranch west of Freer, which Killam purchased in 1994.[1]


Killam was born in Grove in Delaware County in northeastern Oklahoma to Oliver Winfield Killam and the former Harriet "Hattie" Smith (1876–1949). Oliver Killam was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1911 to 1914 and the state Senate from 1915 to 1918. He worked for statehood of the former Oklahoma and Indian territories.[2]

Oliver Killam moved with his wife and three children, to Laredo in 1920, when Radcliffe was ten years of age. His father had come to south Texas to prospect for petroleum and natural gas on mineral leases that he had acquired while in business in Oklahoma. The third Killam well brought about an oil boom in Mirando City in eastern Webb County in 1921, nearly a decade before the better known East Texas Oil Boom centered about Kilgore. Killam grew up in the oil fields and spent his summers on the rigs.[2] He graduated in 1932 from Laredo High School, since named Martin High School. He played on the former Laredo polo team and was a consummate horseman, who never complained, even when being thrown from a horse.[3]

Killam graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and a Harvard Law School.[4]


After Harvard, Killam returned to Laredo to work with his father. In 1942, he enlisted in the United States Navy. He served first in the Atlantic and then was the commanding officer of a PT boat in the Pacific. He left the Navy in 1945 with the rank of lieutenant commander.[4]

​After the war, Killam returned once again to Laredo with his wife, the former Sue Spivey (1919-2019) of Sam Rayburn's Bonham in Fannin County in east Texas.[5] Killam resumed working in the oil business but found much time as well for his family and his community.[4]

In 1947, Oliver Killam purchased the 80,000-acre Ortiz Ranch, which Radcliffe continued to develop. He founded the Mil Ojos ("Thousand Eyes") Hunting Club on his ranch. He was one of the first landowners in Texas to implement a game management program. He was instrumental in the creation of Lake Casa Blanca as a reservoir for the City of Laredo and gave an easement for much of the land that it covers.[3] The lake is now a part of Lake Casa Blanca International State Park, operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.[6]​ ​ Killam was the director of the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, renamed the Texas Oil & Gas Association, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the All-American Wildcatters Association, and the Southwest Research Institute. He was also a director of Alamo National Bank.[3]​ ​ He received many awards over the years that recognized his civic and business contributions. In 1952, Killam headed the birthday celebration of George Washington, a ten day event in mid-February. He was "Mr. South Texas" in 1978; his father had held the same title in 1956.[2]


Much of Killam's philanthropy was given privately. According to his banking colleague Gary Jacobs, "His charitable contributions were always anonymous. He never wanted publicity or recognition. He was a very loyal person to his friends and the institutions he supported."[7]

Killam was a strong supporter of a four-year university for Laredo, which was instituted in 1970 as Texas A&I University and thereafter renamed in 1977 as Laredo State University. He and his family donated three hundred acres in the early 1990s for the newly-established Texas A&M International University campus to replace the original campus, an appendage of Laredo College. Killam was particularly supportive of the TAMIU Center for the Study of Western Hemispheric Trade, of which he was the main private donor in the amount of $2 million. TAMIU conferred honorary doctorates to Radcliffe and Sue Killam for their generosity toward the institution and the community. The TAMU library jointly bears the names of both Killams[3]

Killam also supported Laredo Medical Center, formerly the Roman Catholic-affiliated Mercy Hospital. He gave to the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The Killams gave some $500,000 to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. They also gave to their common alma mater, UT Austin. They once gave a $50,000 matching grant to save the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra from disbanding.[3][7]

The Radcliffe & Sue Killam Elementary School at 5315 Fairfield Drive in Laredo is named in the couple's honor.

Family and death

Killam died at home. He was predeceased by his parents and a sister, Patricia Louise Killam Hurd (1915–1955).[8] He was cremated. No individual marker was placed at the family plot.

Radcliffe and Sue Killam had a son, David Winfield Killam of Laredo, and two daughters, Adrian Kathleen Killam and Trachttps://www.lmtonline.com/news/article/Killam-receives-Forty-Under-40-honor-by-Oil-15756707.php#item-85307-tbla-1y Killam DiLeo, both of Austin. At the time of his death, Investor Magazine| Killam had four grandsons. There was also a deceased daughter, Terry Killam Wilber,[4]​ who later called herself "Treya." While on her honeymoor with psychologist Ken Wilber, she found a cancerous growth. She live five years longer with stage 4 breast cancer but died in 1989.[9]

Killam's namesake grandson, Radcliffe "Cliffe" Killam, II, the president of the company, was named in 2020 to the "40 Under 40" class by Oil and Gas Investor Magazine.[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Carmina Danini (September 9, 2007). TAMIU's biggest donor dies at 97. San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved on February 12, 2008; no longer on-line.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 History of the Killam Companies. The Killam Companies. Retrieved on December 11, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Tricia Cortez, "Killam leaves mark on city," Laredo Morning Times,September 11, 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Radcliffe Killam obituary, Laredo Morning Times, September 10, 2007.
  5. Sue Killam obituary. The Laredo Morning Times (November 20, 2019). Retrieved on December 11, 2019.
  6. Lake Casa Blanca International State Park. State Parks & Destinations. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (February 9, 2007). Retrieved on December 11, 2019.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Julian Aguilar, "Oil giant dies; Radcliffe Killam always loved his hometown," Laredo Morning Times, September 9, 2007.
  8. Killam family grave markers, Laredo City Cemetery
  9. Ken Wilber Life Footnotes Vol. 2: eya's Story. integral-life-landing. Retrieved on December 11, 2019.
  10. Killam receives "40 Under 40" honor by Oil and Gas Investor Magazine. The Laredo Morning Times (November 26, 2020). Retrieved on November 27, 2020.

​ ​​​​​​​​​