Everette Lee DeGolyer, Sr., known as "De" or "Mr. De" to family, friends, and associates, attributed much of his success to pure luck. Nuggets of wisdom and wit and great stories are sprinkled throughout his extensive correspondence with others that give an insight to his personality. Biographer Lon Tinkle wrote of Mr. De's "original and likable character…his ebullience, his sparkling if sardonic wit, his lightninglike [sic] responsiveness to the most diverse fields of intellectual interest..." and suggested that "it was this zest for living, this gusto, which won him the enduring friendship of the most diverse kinds of men, from the famous to the obscure." Longtime "DeGolyerphile" Herb Robertson pored over the DeGolyer family papers and wrote about "the interesting, colorful, humorous, versatile, dynamic, and human Everette and the strong-willed, talented, cultured, practical and realistic homemaker, Nell" in his book The ABCs of De.
Everette Lee DeGolyer, Sr. was a legendary pioneer in the field of petroleum geology and applied geophysics and is often referred to as the "father of American geophysics." Striking oil at the age of twenty-four, he excelled in science and business, forming several successful corporations and serving on the board of directors of many more. He received seven honorary doctorate degrees, belonged to numerous professional societies, and earned countless awards and medals from many distinguished organizations and associations.
Making a fortune, by applying science to the oil industry, allowed Mr. DeGolyer to excel in his other avocations–book collecting, writing, publishing, and lecturing. His book collecting efforts led to three major collections: a collection of American and English literature, which was donated to the University of Texas; a science and technology collection, which was donated to the University of Oklahoma; and a Southwest collection, which came to SMU along with additional science and technology works from his personal library through the gift of the DeGolyer Foundation in 1974. Unlike many book collectors–he enjoyed reading the books he purchased.
In 1956, Everette Lee DeGolyer, Sr. and his wife, Nell Goodrich DeGolyer, established and endowed the DeGolyer Foundation to maintain and administer Mr. DeGolyer's private collection of books. Although the bulk of operations moved from the DeGolyer Estate on White Rock Lake to the SMU campus in 1960, the library remained an independent charitable trust maintained by the Foundation and headed by Everett Lee DeGolyer, Jr., who aggressively expanded the collections. In 1974, the DeGolyer Foundation donated the library to SMU, along with an endowment, which has allowed the university to continue developing the DeGolyer collections. The DeGolyer Library is currently located on the second floor of Fondren Library West.
The Fondren Exhibits Committee is charged with providing educational exhibits for the SMU community that showcase special events, academic areas and individuals associated with the SMU campus.