Baker, Hines Holt, Sr. (1893–1982)

By: Irvin May

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: September 1, 2016

Hines Holt Baker, Sr., business executive, the tenth child of John B. and Octavia (Weaver) Baker, was born in Big Valley, Texas, on September 22, 1893. He attended public schools at Medina, taught school at Laxson Creek and Saratoga, and graduated from the University of Texas with B.A. and LL.B. degrees in 1917. After military service he practiced law in Beaumont before joining Humble Oil and Refining Company (see EXXON COMPANY, U.S.A.) in 1919. From 1919 until 1937 he practiced law in the Humble legal department, where he pioneered the development of legal policies regarding oil leases, conservation, and the selling and handling of crude oil. A generalist rather than a specialist, Baker became a director in 1937 and then vice president under his mentor, Harry C. Wiess, as an expert on conservation and oil-production regulations.

From May 10, 1948, to April 29, 1957, he served as president and CEO of Humble. During his administration Humble became first in Texas gasoline sales and expanded exploration and production of oil, automation in pipelines, and petrochemistry. Baker championed the position of Texas in the Tidelands Controversy. From May 1957 until his retirement at the end of 1958, he was vice president (finally executive vice president) and director of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), now Exxon Corporation, in New York.

During World War II Baker served on several government committees to coordinate oil production and policy for the war effort under the Petroleum Administration for War. He was a member of the National Petroleum Council and a founder of the Texas Research League. He served as TRL chairman in 1955. He was an organizer and the first chairman of the United Fund board of trustees for Houston and Harris County, a trustee of Methodist Hospital of Houston, a member of the Board of Visitors of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute (now the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center), a local and district Methodist leader, and an organizer of St. Luke's Methodist Church. Baker was devoted to increasing the quality of teaching and research at the University of Texas. He served as president of the Ex-Students Association and chairman of the University of Texas Development Board. He was on the advisory committee to select the chancellor in 1953 and was a member of the Law School Dean's Council and the University of Texas Centennial commission. He helped organize and was a trustee of the Texas Law School Foundation, and with his wife, Thelma (Kelley), whom he married on April 25, 1920, endowed a professorship.

In 1952 Baker received the good citizenship medal from the Texas Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and an honorary LL.D. degree from Texas Christian University. In 1953 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, and later the Brotherhood Award of the Houston chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. He received the outstanding alumnus award from the University of Texas law school, the distinguished award from the Ex-Students Association, and the Santa Rita Award from the regents of the University of Texas. Baker died on July 19, 1982, in Houston. He was survived by his wife and two of his four children.

Henrietta M. Larson and Kenneth Wiggins Porter, History of Humble Oil and Refining Company (New York: Harper, 1959). Irvin M. May, Jr., "Hines Holt Baker, 1893–1982," Townes Hall Notes, Winter 1983.

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • Oil and Gas and Natural Resources Law
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Business
Time Periods:
  • World War II
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Irvin May, “Baker, Hines Holt, Sr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994
September 1, 2016

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