Malouf Abraham, Oil & Gas

Gerlach Brothers Road Ranch & Store

From the Amarillo Globe Times, May 19, 2000:

Giving away his money drew as much attention to Malouf "Oofie" Abraham Sr. as did his wheeling and dealing in the oil and gas business. Abraham built a fortune with oil and natural gas leases in the Anadarko basin of the eastern Panhandle and western Oklahoma, but he started out as the son of immigrants from Lebanon.

Abraham's father, Nahim, came to America in 1902. Abraham's mother, Alia, followed 11 years later after Nahim opened The Fair department store in Canadian.

During the Depression, Abraham dropped out of Texas Tech after three years and did everything from checking coats and selling horned toads at the state fair in Dallas to running a restaurant in Canadian called Killarney Cafe. Eventually, Abraham opened a real estate business that allowed him to enter the oil lease business. The oil lease business launched his fortune as the oil business boomed in the 1950s.

Abraham served two terms in the 1950s as Canadian's mayor and two terms in the Texas House of Representatives in the 1960s. His political career ended with a defeat by Max Sherman in the 1970 race for the Texas Senate. "He did me a favor and sent me back home to make some money," Abraham said.

Make money he did, eventually becoming a celebrity for sharing that wealth. Abraham didn't crave the attention, but considered himself lucky. He liked to test that luck in Las Vegas. Whenever he decided it was time to wager a little money, casinos would send Lear jets to Canadian to pick up their valued customer. Friends such as Harold Courson tell of Abraham's trips to Vegas and Lake Tahoe and the antics that ensued, including him stuffing thousands of dollars in bills into his boots.

When Abraham spread his money closer to home, he made gifts like the $2 million one to the Charitable Lead Trust that helps fund the YMCA, the Edward Abraham Memorial Home and the Little House Day Care Center, all in Canadian. The Amarillo Area Foundation benefited by more than $1 million in gifts from Abraham. He established numerous endowments, including ones for West Texas A&M University and Texas Tech.

Abraham rubbed shoulders with people from all walks of life, from ranch workers to U.S. presidents. He spent the last years of his life working with his grandsons in a variety of businesses. They carried his coffin upon his death in 1994, but first made sure he took with him some of the things that were part of his character: A bottle of Jack Daniel's black label; a Malouf Abraham Inc. pen, which he handed out everywhere he went; a wooden nickel, which he used as a campaign token during his days in the Texas Legislature; a pack of cigarettes, and a lighter.