Rodman, Earl George, Sr. (1896–1976)

By: Grace King and Gem Meacham

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1995

E. G. (Rod) Rodman, entrepreneur and West Texas civic leader, son of Thomas George and Lillian (Steele) Rodman, was born in Gridley, Kansas, on October 20, 1896. He graduated from high school in Madison, Kansas, and got his first job in the oilfield in 1917 as a roughneck in El Dorado, Kansas. At the United States's entry into World War I he joined the Marine Corps and served as a corporal. He was with the American Expeditionary Forces in France when the Armistice was signed. He returned to Kansas and worked as a bank teller, as an oil materials man, and in a machine shop before joining Dunigan Tool and Supply Company as a salesman in 1923. With the discovery of the vast Permian Basin oilfields, Rodman moved to Texas in 1926 to open Dunigan's supply business in McCamey. Rodman represented Dunigan throughout the West Texas, eastern New Mexico, and East Texas oilfields before founding his own business in 1935, Rodman Supply Company, headquartered in Odessa. Over the next thirty-three years he opened supply stores throughout Texas, eastern New Mexico, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. Except for a six-year break (1958–64) Rodman remained in the supply business until he sold Rodman Supply Company and its eleven stores in 1968.

Rodman began as an independent wildcatter in 1935 by developing farm-out and marginal leases in the McCamey fields of Upton County. Using several innovations, including the refurbishment of used equipment and experimentation with chemical treatment, Rodman reduced overhead and made profitable many leases that the major oil companies passed over. In 1946 he formed a partnership with William D. Noel when they purchased a gasoline refinery in Odessa. Noel provided the operating expertise, and Rodman was the "deal-maker," using his extensive oilpatch contacts to insure customers. Odessa Natural Gasoline Company became a technological pioneer in the recovery of sulfur from casinghead gas. The Rodman-Noel partnership was responsible for establishing Odessa's petrochemical complex. At considerable personal expense they researched and recruited the industry as part of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce's economic development effort. Rodman and Noel were major financial backers of the first plant, a butadiene facility, which came onstream in 1957. That same year they founded West Texas Gathering Company that purchased, treated, and transported natural gas in an interstate network. They also drilled discovery wells for two Upton County oilfields: the Radford No. 1 in 1953 and the Weir No. 1 in 1961. They founded Odessa's American Bank of Commerce in 1956 and held controlling interests in banks in five other Texas cities: San Angelo, Lubbock, San Antonio, Big Spring, and Fort Worth. Rodman sat on the boards of these banks as well as the Permian Bank and Trust and Home Savings and Loan, both of Odessa.

Rodman owned seven ranches, both as an individual and in partnership with Noel. At the time of his death Rodman's ranch holdings were in Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. He was a major developer of Oklahoma's petroleum reserves beginning in 1958. At one time his companies held over 1,000 leases inclusive of 50,000 acres. In 1968 and 1970 he opened large gas-gathering and refining facilities in Hennessey and Dover, Oklahoma. Rodman was appointed by Governor Allan Shivers to the Texas Industrial Commission in 1953. He was active in local and state political campaigns and was a close friend and business associate of Attorney General John Ben Shepperd.

Rodman and his family moved to Odessa in 1932 and were active in numerous civic endeavors both as financial supporters and in leadership roles. Rodman served one term as Odessa's mayor (1946–48). Under his administration the city modernized to provide services for a population that had tripled during the previous five years. Over 400 blocks of city streets were paved, traffic signals were installed, and Odessa became a charter member in the Colorado River Municipal Water District. Rodman later served as president of the CRMWD, from which Odessa received its municipal water supply. He also served as one the first elected board of regents for the Odessa Junior College District from November 1949 to April 1951. Rodman was named Outstanding Citizen of Odessa in 1965 and was inducted posthumously into the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum's Hall of Fame in 1983. Rodman married Fay Louise Hummel of Pryor, Oklahoma, on October 27, 1921, and they had three children. Rodman was a member and major philanthropist in the Methodist Church. Although near eighty, Rodman maintained a vigorous business schedule until his death on May 20, 1976.

Hall of Fame Files, Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, Midland, Texas. Odessa American, May 22, 1976.
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Business

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

Grace King and Gem Meacham, “Rodman, Earl George, Sr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1995