Meet Ralph S. O’Connor

Houston entrepreneur, civic leader, and philanthropist Ralph S. O’Connor believes that athletic activity makes better students and better people. Mr. O’Connor, who played football and basketball during his first two years at Hopkins, says, “Since not everyone can play varsity sports, the new recreation center provides superb space for intramural and informal competitions and physical fitness activities. This is an important part of university life.”

After graduating from Hopkins in 1951 with a biology degree, Ralph S. O’Connor and a number of his friends headed for Texas, having heard glowing reports of the oil business. Most went as roustabouts, or semiskilled laborers.

Mr. O’Connor was soon plunged into the heady world of oil and gas production, including wildcatting – drilling for oil on shrewd speculation. His instincts were so good and his results so impressive that by 1964 he was president of Highland Oil, and later chairman, president, and CEO of Highland’s successor, HRI resources. Also, in the mid-1970s, he was awarded – out of a field of 900 applicants – one of six distributorships offered in the Houston area by the Adolf Coors Company. In 1987 he formed the Ralph S. O’Connor & Associates investment firm, of which he is chairman and CEO.

Honored many times by professional groups, Mr. O’Connor also has served on numerous civic and educational boards, and was among the four original partners who acquired the NBA’s San Diego Rockets and brought them to Texas as the Houston Rockets. He is chairman and president of the Marian and Speros Martel Foundation of Houston.

Ralph O’Connor is a University trustee emeritus, a Presidential Counselor, and recipient of the University President’s Medal for exemplary service. He has further served Johns Hopkins as a member of the Alumni Council and of his class’ 50th reunion gift committee. Mr. O’Connor’s exceptional generosity was instrumental in bringing about the new recreation center at Homewood, where he has also established a sizable scholarship fund for undergraduates at the Krieger School for Arts and Sciences, and a professorship in biology bears his name. Additionally, funds provided by Mr. O’Connor were vital to the creation of the Walter J. Stark Chair in Ophthalmology in the School of Medicine.