John K. McKinley, CEO of Texaco before record bankruptcy, dies at 94

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John K. McKinley, the chief executive who tried to resuscitate Texaco Inc. before a jury asked it to pay a then-record $10.53 billion in damages as part of a lawsuit that led to the biggest U.S. bankruptcy, has died. He was 94.

He died on June 12 at his home in Dallas, Kurt Glaubitz, a Chevron Corp. spokesman, said Monday, citing the family. No cause was given.

Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001.


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The Alabama-educated chemical engineer had a 45-year career at Texaco, the nation's third-largest oil company at the time, when it lost the case against Houston-based Pennzoil Co. over the acquisition of Getty Oil Co. The Texas jury's award was the largest in U.S. history. McKinley was chairman and CEO from 1980 until his retirement in 1986.

McKinley tried to revitalize Texaco by investing billions of dollars in exploration, closing refineries and service stations, while cutting jobs at the White Plains, New York-based company, according to a 1985 article in The New York Times.

He humiliated executives in front of their peers and was dreaded by underlings, according to a 1986 profile in Fortune magazine.

"I may be interpreted as asking harsh questions, but I don't mean it that way," McKinley said in an interview for the Fortune article. "If people are afraid of me, it's because of fear of their own inadequacy."

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