Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

Chamber honors Bob Simpson for string of building renovations

Already recognized with local, state and national awards, Fort Worth oil and gas magnate Bob Simpson was honored last week for his historic preservation efforts by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber presented Simpson with its 2015 High Impact Legacy Award for his extensive renovations of many historic downtown Fort Worth buildings, most recently the former Star-Telegram building at Seventh and Taylor streets.

He is the third person to receive the award, among the chamber’s top honors.

Simpson owns MorningStar Oil & Gas in Fort Worth, a company he founded after selling XTO Energy to Exxon Mobil. He is also a co-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Simpson said he appreciated the honor.

During his acceptance speech, Simpson also offered a glimpse into the sale to Exxon, which catapulted XTO to become the largest natural gas producer in the world.

“I was a little concerned about them moving [XTO] to Houston,” Simpson said. So he asked Exxon to keep the company in Fort Worth, where it could retain its individual corporate culture.

When the company was sold, XTO employed about 1,600, he said. Today, the employee count is about 3,000 and Exxon is “bringing people from Houston to here.”

Simpson predicted that Jack Williams, an Exxon executive who ran XTO for three years and who last year was named senior vice president at Irving-based Exxon, will become the next chairman of the company, now headed by Rex Tillerson.

The Legacy Award recognizes a person, group or establishment that has faced challenges, stood the test of time and consistently leveraged opportunities for the betterment of Fort Worth.

In addition to Simpson, the award has been presented to the late House Speaker Jim Wright, the late Fort Worth Mayor Bob Bolen and to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on its 40th anniversary last year.

“Many of downtown Fort Worth’s historic, irreplaceable architectural gems have been brought back to their original grandeur and reclaimed for generations to come, thanks to Bob Simpson,” said Bill Thornton, the chamber’s president and CEO. “He contributed greatly to revitalizing downtown and highlighted the unique ‘sense of place’ that is so important to our community.”

Simpson began restoring buildings in the mid-1990s with the W.T. Waggoner building at 810 Houston St., where XTO was based.

Others that he has renovated include the Bob R. Simpson Building at 110 W. Houston St., the Transport Life Building at 714 Main St., the Petroleum Building at 210 W. Sixth St., the Montgomery Ward/Tindall Storage building at 810 Grove St., the Bennie G. Kniffen Building at 210 E. 7th St. and the former home of this newspaper, now known as MorningStar Oil & Gas Building, at 400 W. 7th St.

In 2007, Simpson was honored as a Restore America Hero award winner by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and HGTV.

In 2008, he received the Cornerstone Award from the Texas Society of Architects and in 2010, he was honored with a Renaissance Award from Downtown Fort Worth Inc.

Bell looks for more V-22 sales to Japan

Bell Helicopter was happy to discover last week that it would get to sell five V-22 Ospreys to the Japanese government and hopes that there are more sales coming.

The contract, worth $332.5 million, was made through the U.S. Navy and is the first international sale of the multipurpose aircraft. The Osprey has been flown by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This might be only the first shipment of the Osprey to Japanese self-defense forces. The government has requested the possible purchase of 17 Ospreys and the U.S. State Department has estimated the possible price for aircraft and associated equipment to be about $3 billion. — Max B. Baker

Local banks, credit union listed among nation’s healthiest

Four Fort Worth-based banks and a credit union have made the 2015 edition of’s Top 200 Healthiest Banks/Credit Unions in America.

On the bank list, Southwest Bank ranked No. 62, Trinity Bank ranked No. 90 and Colonial Savings is listed at No. 120. Fort Worth City Credit Union ranked No. 73. annually evaluates the financial health of more than 13,000 federally insured banks and credit unions in the U.S. Institutions are graded on capitalization, deposit growth and loan-to-service ratios, among other things. is a consumer online publication focused on banking and savings deposits information, and in particular deposit rates.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631

Twitter: @Sky_Talk

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727

Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

Steve Kaskovich, 817-390-7773

Twitter: @stevekasko