A Texas historical marker was erected at the Madison County Library on Thursday in honor of businessman, political activist, philanthropist, university regent and Madisonville native Jubal Richard (J.R.) Parten, who donated multiple tracks of land in the county including that of the library.
“Mr. Parten knew the importance of libraries and the roll they play in a community,” said Veronica Grooms, who has served as Madison County Librarian for the last 19 years. “In 1969, (Parten) worked to ensure that this little community had the benefit of a free and public library. Things have changed over the last 50 years, but the vision of Mr. Parten remains a priority and the life’s work of we who have dedicated our days here.”
J.R. Parten was born in Madisonville in 1896 and made a name for himself as a pioneer in the oil industry and built a reputation in politics both local and national. He studied government and law at the University of Texas and joined the Army shortly after, where he rose to the rank of Major.
After World War I, Parten and his father-in-law started Woodley Petroleum Company in 1919. His career in the industry would last over 70 years.
Simultaneously, Parten was active in the affairs of his alma mater and politics. He served on UT’s Board of Regents from 1935 until 1941 and earned a distinguished alumnus award from the university in 1987.
During World War II, he served as Director of the Transportation Division of the Petroleum Administration for War and was responsible for delivering necessary oil for the war effort. He also participated in the post-war negotiations at the Potsdam Conference. President Harry Truman called on Parten again in 1950 to organize the Petroleum Administration for Defense during the Korean War.
Parten had two children with Patsy Edwards Puterbaugh and donated generously to Madison County. Along with the Madison County Library, he donated multiple tracks of land for an elementary school and hospital. He died in 1992 at the age of 96 and is buried in the Madisonville Cemetery.
“He had a long history of belief in education, and education for all,” said J.R.’s son Randy Parten, who was in attendance for the dedication. “Thank you all very much for this honor on behalf of my father.”
Randy Parten represented the family along with his wife Michelle, their son (J.R.’s grandson) Austin Parten, Austin’s wife Faith and their children Paige and Rhett.
Also in attendance was Bonnie Hendrix, Chairperson of the Madison County Historical Commission. Representing the City of Madisonville and Madison County were Mayor Bill Parten, Judge Butch McDaniel, Camilla Viator, Ann Minze, Chris McGilbra, Lois Brown, Scott Singletary and Jerry Harper.