On January 18, 2023, William Wallace Britain passed away peacefully at home surrounded by friends and family. Bill was born on December 24, 1948, which he was certain was planned as a cost cutting measure by his parents. He graduated from West Point in 1972 and outside of his time there and five years in the military, he lived his entire life in Amarillo, a place that he was very proud of and gave back to when he could.
Bill met his wife, Mary, while he was home on leave from West Point. They have been an absolute pair since that day. Their long-distance courtship included a call to Mary from an AT&T investigator about the unauthorized use of Sammy Davis Jr’s (Yes, the actor/singer) calling card number which had been published New York City Village Voice newspaper. Bill saw it as his only shot as being able to afford the calls to Mary and used it frequently. To keep the calls coming and Bill out of jail, Mary collected cans to pay the charges. They married June 17, 1972, right after graduation and spent the next five years going from post to post in the Army – none were glamorous, and some were terrible. Their marriage of 51 years was a fantastic journey and Bill passed with Mary at his side.
Bill was a focused husband and father, and his family was his first priority. His children, Lane and Lulu, brought him incredible joy and pride with the occasional giant headache (mainly Lane). He made sure they had every advantage that he did not. As a father, he made the hard decisions and stuck to them even when they were not popular with the rest of the family and those decisions were critical in shaping Lane and Lulu into who they are today. The most important lessons were to never take yourself too seriously, don’t spend too much time worrying about the rules and take care of the people around you.
When his grandchildren started arriving, he relished in not having to make any of the hard decisions and all the time he spent with Hatch, Lillie and Wallace was focused on fun. They learned a lot from him in a short period of time and loved him very much.
Bill’s time at West Point was mainly spent trying to get out of trouble. The shared sacrifice and training resonated with him and taught him how to be a servant leader, a skill that he would use the rest of his life. He made many lifelong friends there and this past May returned for his 50th reunion where he served as the Head of Class of 1972 Gift Campaign. The amount of joy he felt from giving back to the Cadets could not be measured.
After an honorable discharge in 1977, Bill and Mary returned to Amarillo where he went to work for Buddy Wells and Jimmy Whittenburg. Through these mentors, Bill learned the oil and gas business and how to make sure you end up on the better side of a deal. Bill was an entrepreneur at heart and was determined to start his own business. After a couple tries including a drilling rig and a four-plex apartment building, Bill found his long-term business partner. He and Jim J. Brewer started J-Brex in 1987. Together they built a very successful oil and gas exploration business and had a lot of fun in the process.
In 1998, after using eBay for the first time, Bill began working on his next idea. In 1999, Bill co-founded EnergyNet and began trying to convince companies, individuals, and really anyone that would listen, to sell Oil and Gas properties on the internet. It took a while, but EnergyNet held the first ever, real-time, online oil and gas property auction in February 2000 and has since sold over 300,000 oil and gas properties across the United State totaling over $9 billion in total transactions. EnergyNet is the most active oil and gas property marketplace in the world. Bill loved EnergyNet and all the people involved like his children. He could see ability and promise in people that others did not and his EnergyNet family always knew that they had his full support 24/7 both in their work and personal lives.
Bill’s favorite places were Palo Duro Canyon or somewhere far away on an adventure. He traveled extensively across the world typically hunting or fishing. Mary and his kids were often there with him. Our favorite memories happened on these trips and often included Bill breaking down international communication barriers by loudly speaking broken English with a Scottish accent. These adventures were often made possible by Sean Kelly or Ignacio Navasques, both of whom he considered adopted sons. While their business cards say professional hunter, they often spent more time being amateur psychologists when he missed a shot.
Survivors include his wife, Mary, son, Lane and his wife Kate, daughter, Lulu and her husband John, and grandchildren: William Hatcher Britain, Lillian Elizabeth Britain, and Wallace Hughes Britain. Bill insisted on a party instead of a funeral and the family is busy planning that for a later date. Bill has had the greatest care anyone could hope for, and it is a testament to the high quality of the people in the Texas Panhandle. The family would like to thank: Maggie Scales, Joe Coffman, Dr. Robert Gottlieb, Dr. Rajesh Nambiar, Dr. Kyle Molen, Dr. Christopher Gulley, Wendy Rutledge, Paula Hubert, Rose Mary Hernandez, Diana Davis, Quinton Mungia, Mike Hughes and the teams at Good Care, BSA Compassion Care, BSA Palliative Care and BSA Hospice of the Southwest.
In lieu of flowers and if so inclined, the family asks that you do something to help an organization or someone in need. Bill’s favorites are the Amarillo Area Foundation, West Texas A&M University Buffalo Council and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.
24 Replies to “William “Bill” W. Britain”
We could write a novel about our adventures.
Bill’s work is making others’ dreams come true. Thoughts, prayers, and gratitude from the millions downstream you’ve touched.
Deepest condolences to the family. I am so sorry for your loss. Praying for you during this difficult time.
Although I never met Bill, I heard about him frequently. Mary often talked about Bill and I could tell how much she loved him. My condolences to the entire family and love to Mary and children.
Mary, I am so sorry for your loss. If you remember, I first met Bill surrounded by rhinoceros, ostrich and other wild animals.
Condolences to your children and grandchildren.
Condolences to the family. I worked on several surveying projects with Bill, the most memorable was surveying his hunting property at Palo Duro Canyon, via helicopter, as we were taking off, I nearly fell out. We got a good laugh after I held on, and closed the door behind me. Bill will be missed. Rest in Peace, Job well done.
Sincere condolences to the family, Bill was such a likeable guy
Bill Britain was an icon in our oil & gas world. I loved reading his “short story” memory on Boxwell’s page. Bill was a very impressive man to to say the least. While he could be a “handful” at times I loved getting to know him and our talks. He help me and PPROA using his influence to help me attain speakers for my convention.
I am blessed and grateful he was placed in my path. I smile as I write my note remembering our talks over the last few years.
May God’s peace be with you!
David and I were so sad to learn of Bills passing. There was no one better in this world than Bill Britain. He was the kindest person and we feel so lucky to have known he and Mary. May he rest in peace. Sending love to Mary, Lane and Lulu.
Mary Jane and David Johnson
I’m so very sad to hear this. I have such fond memories of Bill from Paramount Terrace through THS. I send prayers for comfort and peace to Mary and kids.
A friend and neighbor. Bill was perhaps the most congenial person I have ever met. Thoughts and prayers to Mary Lane and the family. May God’s comforting arms surround you all.
Thoughts and prayers for Mary, Lulu, Lane and grandchildren.
I have known Bill since grade school. We graduated from Tascosa together as well. Bill was always kind, a super nice guy. Blessings to you all and prayers for peace.
Mary, I’m so sad to hear about Bill. As a fellow Rebel, in the THS Class of ’67, we all knew of the kindness Bill shared with his classmates. He was a quiet person but always had a friendly “hi” and a kind word if you met him in the hallway or class. Even though I lost track of Bill after we graduated from THS, I always thought of him with a smile when his name was mentioned.
Please know my prayers are with you, your children and grandchildren along with your friends and his business family. May Our Father in Heaven wrap you in His arms and comfort you through your time of loss.
We will be waiting to hear when Bill’s “Memorial Party” will be celebrated. God’s Blessing always!💜🙏💜
Mary, as I read the beautiful tribute to Bill, I was happy to learn about your wonderful life all these years together. I will always hold a special place in my heart for you. May the ache in your heart be lessened by knowing so many care for you and your family.
What a great Man and friend Bill was. Love to Mary, Lulu and Lane. Kirk and I are so sorry about his passing and know he is no longer suffering. We love you and are thinking of you all.
Kirk and Trisha Hill
We’ll miss you. Rest in Peace Bill.
I know you Bill through Jack Buttine and on Allbright, two of the finest men and West Point graduates anyone will ever meet and that means the same goes for you Sir.
I watched as you led the work to create the largest class gift in West Point history.
And now I’ve just read of your many other accomplishments most notably your long and faithful marriage to your wonderful bride. Though I never had the opportunity to know you as a close friend, as Bob and Jack did, I do now feel at peace that I know you well Bill. And I like you. A lot.
I’ll see you Sir in heaven. Look out for us will you please.
We are missed my friend.
Your work for your West Point Class of 1972 will live forever.
Be Thou at Peace.
As a West Point classmate of Bill’s, I had the privilege of working closely with him for 2 and 1/2 years on our Class’s 50th Reunion Gift to the West Point Association of Graduates. Under Bill’s leadership our Class broke all records for a reunion gift by any Class. Bill was loved and respected by all our classmates. He will be sorely missed. He exemplified our Class Motto -Proud and True.
Mary, my prayers are with you and your family. Bill was a terrific person. He was a mentor to so many, and I’m so glad that he was there. Take care.
Mary, this is a wonderful tribute. It made our Sunday morning full of laughter.
We are thinking of your precious family although we haven’t seen you since your wedding…at the JL building with no air conditioning.
Nancy Scott Beck and hubby David
Thoughts and prayers are with Mary and his family. He truly was one of a kind and am proud to say he was a graduate of THS class of’67!!! RIP Bill 🙏🏼🥰🙏🏼
Bill was a fantastic leader, mentor, friend and all around genuinely one of the finest people I have ever had the honor of having in my life. He will be missed dearly and the family is in my thoughts and prayers.
Rest in peace, my friend.