July 22, 1997
Wayne Swearingen (As aviation cadet, circa 1944)
Each week the Tulsa World profiles one resident of that city and names him/her: "World Leader." Wayne Swearingen, a native Perryan, was the subject of one of those recent articles and I'm proud to say he got his start in the business world by selling advertising space in this moral pillar. Wayne has gone a ways since those days.
The article about him, by World staff writer Ray Tuttle, notes that during his growing up years Wayne was greatly influenced by his minister at the First Methodist church here. The minister, the Rev. Harvey H. Cody Sr., was a worthy role model and he almost convinced Wayne that he, too, should become a minister. I also remember Brother Cody as something of an expert bass fisherman. He had a son, Harvey Jr., who was about the same age as Wayne and I, and a younger daughter, LaMoyne, who at one time was the wife of Robert S. Kerr Jr., son of the former U. S. senator and Oklahoma governor.
"Perry was, and still is, a good town for growing up," Swearingen said in the article. After his senior year at Perry high school in 1942, Wayne was employed by The Journal to service advertising accounts, and he still has fond memories of those days. Today, at 72, he is president of Swearingen Petroleum Management and a widely respected industry spokesman. TV interviewers and others appreciate his succinct responses to their questions. He learned to talk in sound bites years before the term was coined. "I learned to get to the point,” he told the Tulsa reporter.
He has been an energy advocate for five decades, maintaining that communication is the industry's No. 1 job. He has developed an industry-wide reputation for integrity and discretion. That led to an opportunity to praise the industry and his native state on national television. He's been featured on CBS five times during the last 15 years. Friends have urged him to enter politics, but this he dismisses with a wave of the hand. Wayne is an economic conservative but a liberal when it comes to seeing that everyone has an equal opportunity.
The Tulsa newspaper article states: "Following World War II service as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, Wayne returned to the University of Oklahoma and graduated in 1948 with a petroleum engineering degree. Deciding to pursue the PE degree was a watershed event for Swearingen, as in 1946 he had the opportunity to attend West Point." At that time he did something he hadn't necessarily planned on doing, but decided it was the best course of action. "I married the prettiest girl in Perry," Wayne says, referring to his wife, the former Dorothy Wilde. She is still movie star pretty. Her parents were Mr. and Mrs. Henry Wilde. Wayne is the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. L. B. Swearingen and a younger brother of Dr. Eugene Swearingen, who also resides in Tulsa.
His career has included periods as president and chief executive of Livingston Oil Corp., leading LVO to an expansion into cable television and business services. In 1961 he and Dorothy drew up their "13-year plan" for business and family, including his stepping down from the tension of corporate life at age 50. In 1974, on the day of his 50th birthday, Swearingen signed the papers merging LVO and Utah International and walked away to form the consulting firm he still operates.
Wayne considers himself semi-retired but says he keeps "flunking retirement." He says total retirement is a sentence, not an objective. Wayne and Dorothy still sit down and make plans. Foremost on their current agenda is to be of sound body and mind and to live into their 90s. Here's hoping they find many reasons to return to Perry once in a while to visit with their friends hereabout. For one thing, we'd like to congratulate him for beings chosen a "World Leader" by the Tulsa World.