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Wyoming Family Continues UW Legacy Through Business Deanship

May 8, 2023

The towering legacy of a Wyoming family has been further honored with the creation of a deanship in the University of Wyoming College of Business -- the H.A. “Dave” True Jr. Family College of Business Deanship.

“I believe UW and our state need to have a strong business school because we need the skill and the economic mindset,” says Dave True, who is a trustee of the university, co-owner of True companies and a son of H.A. “Dave” True Jr.

“I’m also passionate about the state,” Dave continues. “We are just a great place. People in the state of Wyoming are just good, down-to-earth people. The values and legacy of our state need to be reflected in the university.”

The purpose of the True Deanship is to enrich the business climate within the state by supporting the dean of the UW College of Business and the college’s education, research and outreach. Funds can be used to recruit and help retain top talent and to foster excellence and address critical needs and priorities of the College of Business.

“The University of Wyoming is truly grateful not only for this remarkable gift of a deanship in the College of Business and the chair before that, but also for the years of dedicated service of Dave True and all the members of the True family to UW and also to the state,” says UW President Ed Seidel. “The legacy of the True family is one of dedicated service and entrepreneurial spirit, and we are incredibly thankful.”

The True family was inspired to establish this deanship because of the H.A. “Dave” True Jr. Chair in Petroleum and Natural Gas Economics that they already had established within the College of Business and because many of them have a connection to the college.

“We have a family legacy with the University of Wyoming -- four generations,” Dave says.

The True family also was motivated by the deanship in the UW College of Education that was established by the John P. “Jack” Ellbogen Foundation.

The True Deanship is now the university’s third named deanship, after the Ellbogen Deanship in Education and the Carrell Family Dean in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

“The True family name is indelibly etched in the history, economy and culture of Wyoming,” says Kevin Carman, provost and executive vice president of UW. “It is an honor to now have the True name linked in perpetuity with excellence in the UW College of Business.”

For 75 years, the extended family of Wyoming wildcatter H.A. “Dave” True Jr. has been actively engaged in oil and gas, ranching, building companies and supporting communities.

For example, established in 1957, True Ranches has been raising beef cattle while expanding acreage and operating feedlots. Companies such as True Oil, the Belle Fourche Pipeline and Toolpushers Supply in the oil and gas industry have been performing exploration and development of oil and gas resources while supporting the industry as a whole.

Today, this network of companies -- in trucking, pipelines, oil services, purchasing, finance, environment and ranching -- employs more than 1,000 people throughout the United States.

Last but not least, members of the True family have volunteered their time and resources to support their communities, including UW through the Double 4 Foundation and, previously, the True Foundation.

The Trues have served as trustees of the university for many years. The elder True served as trustee from 1965-77, and sons Hank and Dave served from 1995-2007 and 2013-present, respectively. All three served as board president.

The True family also has supported UW through philanthropy. Before creating this deanship, the family established the H.A. “Dave” True Jr. Chair in Petroleum and Natural Gas Economics in 2004.

“The True Deanship will have a transformative impact on our students, programs and faculty,” says Scott Beaulier, dean of the College of Business. “We are grateful to the True family for their visionary leadership and investment in the future of the College of Business.”

The purpose of the True Chair was and is an endowed faculty position in oil and gas economics who is “a leader and spokesperson in forging a path for better understanding of economics of Wyoming oil and gas through research, teaching and outreach to state policy makers, the oil and gas industry, and other stakeholders.”

In 2007, the inaugural True Chair was awarded to Charles “Chuck” Mason, UW professor of petroleum and natural gas economics, and Mason still serves in this role today. This chair will continue to support Mason through his tenure, and then funds will be transitioned to the True Deanship while also continuing support of petroleum and natural gas economics at UW and throughout the state.

“We try to stress the importance of natural resources to the state and to mankind,” Dave says. “We need a dependable, readily available, affordable source of energy.”

This legacy began with the hard work of H.A. “Dave” True Jr., who was born in 1915 in Cheyenne. He grew up in the Rocky Mountain West and then settled in Cody with his wife, Jean. He worked for Texaco -- formerly Texas Co. -- before moving to Casper to work for and then buy out the company Reserve Drilling, a one-rig drilling contracting firm. This became True Drilling.

In the years that followed, the Trues founded and/or operated a number of companies -- True Oil, True Ranches, Belle Fourche Pipeline, Toolpushers Supply, Eighty Eight Oil (formerly Black Hills Oil Marketers), Black Hills Trucking, Equitable Oil Purchasing and Hilltop National Bank.

“A strong motivator for H.A. ‘Dave’ True Jr. was to give back of his talents and worth,” says the True family in a statement. “He spent years contributing his time and efforts to this state and the industries which had been so good to him. He provided service to his church, community, state and nation.”

True was known as a quiet family man, an optimist and a hard worker -- he worked seven days a week. He also was “a big-picture leader” and “the consummate entrepreneur,” said a former dean of the College of Business when True was inducted into the inaugural class of the Wyoming Business Hall of Fame.

True and Jean were “partners in every way,” their sons report. Together, the Trues had four children -- Tamma True-Hatten, H.A. “Hank” True III, Diemer True and David L. True. The elder True passed away unexpectedly in 1994 but, since then, the next generation of Trues have assumed leadership of the companies and also continue the legacy of service to their communities.

H.A. “Dave” True Jr.  strongly believed in the essence of the Code of the West. When Dave first heard the elements of the Code of the West, he thought, “Dad could have written that.”

Inscribed on a historical marker at the Salt Creek Oil Field is a quote from True: “I have always considered integrity and ethics to be the most important part of a business decision. Our goal has always been to make every deal on such terms and in such a manner that next week, next year or five years from now, we can go back and deal with those same people again.”

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