George R. Brown
(1898-1983), after whom the School of Engineering at Rice University is named, was born in Belton, Texas. After studying at Rice, he graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 1922 and joined the construction firm started by his brother, Herman Brown. The company later became Brown and Root, Inc. after Herman’s brother-in-law, Dan Root, a Central Texas cotton farmer, invested in the firm.
Brown and Root started in road building, constructed the Marshall Ford (now Mansfield) Dam on the Colorado River and, in 1940, won the $90 million contract to build the Naval Air Station at Corpus Christi. By the late 1950s, Brown and Root was among the largest engineering and construction companies in the world. Shortly before the U.S. entered World War II, the Browns went into the shipbuilding business. Their company employed some 10,000 people and built 359 ships. Brown is credited with aiding Lyndon B. Johnson in his rise from Texas congressman to president.
After the death of his brother in 1962, Brown became president of Brown and Root. Later that year he sold the business to the Halliburton Company. Brown later served as a director of Halliburton, Armco Steel Corporation, Louisiana Land and Exploration Co., International Telephone and Telegraph Corp., Trans-World Airlines, Southland Paper Co., First City Bancorporation, and Highland Oil Company.
In 1951, Brown, his brother Herman and their wives founded the Brown Foundation, which has donated to Rice, Southwestern University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among other recipients. As of 2018, the Brown Foundation had given away some $1.6 billion. The George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston and the George R. Brown School of Engineering are among the buildings named in his honor.