The University of Tulsa recognized engineering alumni Donald Hoose and James Wallis among the 2016 class of Distinguished Alumni during Reign ‘Cane Homecoming Oct. 19-23. The two petroleum engineering grads earned degrees from TU’s College of Engineering and Natural Sciences. Learn more about Hoose and Wallis in the profiles below.
Donald Hoose (BS ’59)
Driven by a strong and steady work ethic, Don Hoose (BS ’59) knew he needed to further his education after graduating from Will Rogers High School. The University of Tulsa’s nationally known petroleum engineering program was just a few blocks from home. Hoose’s father and uncle, both connected to the oil industry, advised TU would be a wise decision.
Hoose was one of the earliest members of the TU Sigma Nu chapter and made fond memories cheering on the Golden Hurricane football team with his fraternity brothers.
“Engineers seemed to know how to have a good time, so that was educational,” Hoose said smiling. “We all enjoyed the games.”
Later, he switched his focus from production to refining within the petroleum engineering major, a smart move that paid off while working at the former KW Anderson Co., a designer and manufacturer of direct-fired heaters used at refineries and chemical plants. A TU upperclassman and close friend who worked at KW Anderson introduced Hoose to heat transfer design.
“The nature of the work I was doing was taking advantage of the subject matter in refinery design, chemistry and heat transfer,” Hoose said. “I was coming in with a good background to blend in with the standards and directions of the company.”
A successful start in the petroleum engineering industry wasn’t the only thing he gained. Hoose met his wife, Chris, at KW Anderson where she worked as a secretary. For the past 56 years, she has accompanied him every step of his career. With her support and administrative skills, Hoose branched out on his own in 1983 to establish Tulsa Fin Tube. The company produces custom fin tubes and finned pipes to increase heat transfer rates and reduce operating costs among businesses in the petroleum industry.
“I felt like it would be more enjoyable to do what I do best and take care of my family,” he said.
From its new state-of-the-art facility in Tulsa, TFT supplies materials to the petroleum and chemical industries around the world.
“There were some learning years in the beginning,” Hoose said. “You had to prove yourself. It takes time—you don’t do it overnight.”
Hoose is retired as CEO, and his older son, Justin, has helped advance the company as president. The family prides itself on not only building a reputable product but also caring for its 50 employees. A majority of TFT’s shop equipment was built in-house by TFT personnel.
“The economy goes up and down, but you learn to wear a tight belt, be thrifty and look ahead,” he said. “If effort is put forth and you stay with it, success will follow.”
The Hooses’ younger son, Lance, excels in his profession as a chiropractor in Tulsa. In addition to their sons, daughters-in-law and four grandchildren, the Hooses fill their retirement with travel, TU events, Golden Hurricane athletics and relaxing days on the lake. They are members of the TU President’s Council, Circle Society and Golden Hurricane Club. They have supported the Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge as well as the Hoose Family Scholarships for the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences. He was inducted into the ENS Hall of Fame in 2007.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to see the progress that’s been made and the way the campus has changed,” he said. “TU has become much more competitive with facilities to attract good students.”
Hoose said he’s proud to be named among his alma mater’s prestigious Distinguished Alumni. The university provided him an avenue to establish a successful company. Quality faculty and TU’s outstanding engineering programs are why he and Chris remain so involved.
“TU is very important to us because of the people who are there,” he said. “We enjoy our old friends and making new friends along the way.”
James “Jim” Wallis BS ’62, JD ’65
How did a poor boy from Arkansas become a successful Oklahoma City businessman? He earned a degree from The University of Tulsa. A Little Rock native, Distinguished Alumnus Jim Wallis (BS ’62, JD ’65) skipped study hall one morning during his senior year of high school to talk to TU recruiter Charles Malone. He was offered a one-year, $500 scholarship.
In August, he and his parents packed their 1951 Buick and hit the road for Oklahoma. His first Tulsa stop was John Mabee Hall where “it was like a meeting of the United Nations.
“At that time, most of the students went home in the evening, and there was a small number of out-of-state or international students (who lived on campus),” Wallis said. “We had boys from all over, and it was quite a learning experience.”
He switched his major from geology to petroleum engineering his sophomore year and remembers taking most of his courses in Phillips Hall. Although neither of Wallis’ parents attended college, they made education a priority for him and his sister.
“It was pretty serious business,” he said. “For me, TU was work and a great deal of effort. Passing physical chemistry was a major hurdle to graduation, and somehow I managed to pass the first time. I felt that was an accomplishment.”
Wallis worked several jobs to help with college expenses including positions with the U.S. Corps of Engineers and an entry-level position at Investors Royalty Co., in downtown Tulsa. He worked there six years while earning his bachelor’s degree and attending the TU College of Law.
“My duties gradually got a little more involved in the industry, and by the time I graduated I had several years of experience, which gave me a head start,” Wallis said.
Wallis’ career stops included a position at Goff Oil, Brookwood Oil and Apache Oil where he was recruited for an area land manager role. His petroleum engineering and law degrees proved to be a beneficial combination for the industry.
“It gives you a better understanding of overall operations within a company,” he said. “You’re not intimidated by the engineering or legal side.”
Wallis later was recruited to an independent energy company in Oklahoma City where he learned valuable lessons about financial leverage and managing a business. He worked at An-son Corp. for seven years before transitioning to the establishment of his own company, EXOK Inc., in 1979. Years later, the bottom fell out of the oil market, but Wallis’ venture managed to survive the downturn. In the late 1970s, Tulsa friends invited him to participate in founding Western National Bank. He was the company’s second-largest shareholder and served as a director.
Wallis and his partners eventually sold the bank, but EXOK continues today. He’s never had to lay off any employees in a recession; and after more than four decades in the industry, Wallis has witnessed revolutionary advancements.
“The industry now is producing several million barrels a day from rock that was not considered to be reservoir quality when I was going to school,” he said.
As the geology has changed, so has his alma mater. Wallis is amazed at how the once commuter campus now attracts some of the country’s brightest students to live in first-class residence halls.
“It’s not the same school I attended,” he said. “I’ve seen an incredible transformation over the past 10, 15 years.”
Wallis has been a member of the TU President’s Council and Circle Society and served on the Board of Trustees from 2001-2014. He also founded the James W. Wallis Scholarship in Law Endowment Fund and generously supports TU’s Keplinger Hall renovation and the establishment of a canine ambassador program. He and Patricia, his wife of 39 years, have five children and enjoy the companionship of their canine friends.
Wallis enjoys quail hunting, bird dogs and clay shooting. Pat hosts the weekly local television show Dog Talk and has written several books about the family’s special canines they rescued.
Reflecting on his TU experience and fulfilling career, Wallis said his journey from Arkansas to Tulsa is one he will never forget.
“Whatever success I have enjoyed in this world has got to be attributable to The University of Tulsa,” he said. “I will forever be indebted to TU.”