Rosalind Redfern Grover has a seat at the table.
By Al Pickett, special contributor
Rosalind Redfern Grover readily admits she never planned on going into the oil and gas business when she left Midland to go to college at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
But life doesn’t always follow the path that one predicts, and Grover, a member of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association’s board of directors and a former PBPA Top Hand Award winner, ended up back home in Midland, fashioning a remarkable career in not only the oil and gas industry but also making contributions to the Tall City with her civic and philanthropic efforts.
“When I was young, women either became nurses or teachers,” recalled Grover, who received her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in history from the University of Arizona. “I was going to be a history teacher.”
Instead, she returned to Midland—on her way to somewhere that she doesn’t even remember today—and never left. Her father founded the Flag-Redfern Oil Company years earlier, and Grover joined the family business as a member of the board of directors. She was serving as chairman of the board when the company was sold to the Kerr-McGee Corporation.
A woman heading up an independent oil and gas operating company was rare 40 years ago, and Grover admitted not that much has changed.
“There were very few women in the industry then, and it remains that way,” she pointed out. “We are seeing more and more women coming into the industry as geologists and engineers, and they will eventually become independents. But there are still very few women at that level. But we are getting a seat at the table.”
Despite being one of only a handful of women in the industry, Grover said she never felt discriminated against.
“It is not discrimination, it is just a cultural pattern,” she continued. “Men are not used to dealing with women in this business. But I like working with most of the men in the oil and gas industry.”
Now, there is at least one more woman with a seat at the table—Grover’s daughter, Rosson Grover.
After the sale of Flag-Redfern Oil Company, Grover remained active in the oil and gas business in several oil and gas partnerships. And then last year, she formed Redfern and Grover Resources, LLC, in which she is chief executive officer and her daughter Rosson is running the day-to-day operations as company president.
“About a year ago, I decided to begin to step back,” Grover stated. “Rosson is the third generation in our family in the oil and gas industry. So many times, the younger generation loses interest and doesn’t stay in it. But she is interested in the business, and I felt this was the right time to do that. It is working well.”
Grover said 99 percent of her various companies’ oil and gas activity has been in the Permian Basin. She remarked that the region’s current boom reminds her more of the 1950s, when Midland was building a new elementary school every year, than the boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“We have to put in the infrastructure because this one is not going away,” Grover emphasized. “In the late 1970s, after the Arab oil embargo, that boom was price-driven. When things went bust, the FDIC owned everything in town. This is more like the 1950s. This is technology-driven, and it will last. Of course, the world has changed and we are more energy independent today.”
While the oil and gas industry has been her life-long vocation, it is hard to find a non-profit organization in Midland – from the Midland County Public Library expansion to the Midland Symphony Guild, Midland Charity Horse Show, Midland Junior League and Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, Library and Hall of Fame, just to name a few — that hasn’t benefited from Grover’s fund-raising efforts.
“I think you need to give back,” she emphasized. “I have been blessed, and I believe I have an obligation to give back for the betterment of everyone.”
For example, she recently concluded chairing Midland Memorial Hospital’s successful $175 million “Campaign for Tomorrow” to build a new patient care tower.
“That was a several-year project,” she related. “We raised over $65 million, thanks to the incredible generosity of the people in Midland. Midlanders are ‘can-do’ people. We have a high-quality life compared to most towns our size. We want to keep building.”
Education is a top priority as she looks toward Midland’s future.
Schools are our No. 1 need,” Grover claimed. “We have to have an educated workforce. We have to have technical people. We are not flipping hamburgers. We are doing technical work. It is hard to find an educated workforce.”
She called the recent hospital expansion fund drive and efforts to improve the city’s schools “making an investment in our community.”
“They will pay off,” Grover reiterated. “I read the other day that nothing in your life will track how much money you will make more than education. Not your religion, your race, nor your socio-economic background will matter as much as having a high school diploma, a college degree, or a PhD.”
She praised the dual-credit program the Midland schools offer that allows students to earn college credits at Midland College while still in high school.
“We need to do everything we can to get kids moved up and get a better education,” Grover added. “There is a self-serving argument for a better educated workforce: they become better taxpayers. Our form of government is a democracy. If you live the way we live, you have to have an educated citizenry.”
While Grover didn’t originally plan to go into the oil and gas industry, she admitted the seeds were sown for her future during her childhood.
“As a child, I remember going to the Gaines County courthouse with my dad and smelling those dusty old books,” she recalled. “Every time I go to the courthouse today to look up records, I smell those old books and I am reminded of my childhood. I also remember driving back to Midland and seeing all the flares (burning off the excess gas at the oil wells). My dad said they are wasting valuable resources, and some day they won’t be doing that.”
Grover, who has received numerous honors and awards during her career, contended the best people in the world are in the oil business.
“They are generous, far-thinking, a different breed,” she said of the pioneering spirit and entrepreneurship of those involved in the oil and gas industry. “I am lucky to live here. They have made Midland the great city it is.”
In addition to her work with the PBPA board of directors, she is a member of the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Organization, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the National Association of Royalty Owners, and the Committee of Texas Independents.
Grover and her late husband Arden have four children and five grandchildren.
Al Pickett is a freelance writer in Abilene and author of four books. He also owns the West Central Texas Oil Activity Index, a daily and weekly oil and gas reporting service. For more information, email email@example.com.