John Connaway: Brookesmith ISD success story

Special to the Bulletin
John Connaway

This article is submitted by the Brookesmith ISD and is third in a series of "Brookesmith Success Stories." 

John Connaway is a 1983 Brookesmith graduate. He attended Brookesmith from first through 12th grades.

Connaway credits Brookesmith with preparing him to excel in the number one petroleum engineering program in the nation — the University of Texas at Austin. He made the Dean’s List more years than not and graduated from UT in 1987 with a bachelor’s in petroleum engineering. Connaway served as a member of the UT Petroleum Engineering External Advisory Committee from 2010 – 2013 and is a Registered Professional Engineer in Texas.

Upon graduation from UT, Connaway married his high school sweetheart, Laura Estess. She is a 1983 Brookesmith graduate and 1987 Howard Payne University graduate.

1987 was a tough year for big oil. With lots of hard work and summer internships, Connaway was able to land a job with Marathon Oil Company as an offshore production engineer in Lafayette, Louisiana. It would be his company for life.

The next 30 years were an adventure for John and Laura. They moved from place to place as Connaway worked his way up the company hierarchy. He served in multiple engineering, management and executive positions. His career took him and Laura to 14 homes in 10 different states and three foreign countries — Scotland, West Africa and Canada. He also worked on projects from northern Europe to the Middle East and central Africa.

The apex of his career was his appointment as president of Marathon Canada Limited in Calgary, Alberta. Marathon had purchased this company in 2007 for $6.2 billion dollars. This operation focused on oil sands mining and heavy oil extraction. His final posting was to Houston in 2014, where he worked his last two years with Marathon as Director of Corporate Reserves.

In 2016, after almost 30 years with Marathon, John and Laura felt the time was right for a change of scenery. While anywhere in the world was open for settling down in retirement, they chose to return home to Brookesmith. There, they lived on John’s great grandfather’s homestead. Fortunately, they had been able to purchase it back into the family in 2011.

The ranch was named Full Circle to signify both the ranch’s return to the family and their return to their roots. Since that time and his father’s death, John and Laura have been very busy with operating the family ranch.

Connaway Ranch, LLC, has a legacy dating back to the late 1800s in Brown County. Today they raise Brangus and Black Baldy commercial cattle in addition to farming to support the ranching operation. They hope someday to pass it on to their son Brian, the fifth generation, who is also a petroleum engineer.

Connaway is active in various organizations in Brown County. He is a Brookesmith Special Utility District and Brown County Farm Bureau board member. He is the Texas Farm Bureau Beef Advisory Committee Chairman, USDA Farm Service Agency County Committee member and a Precinct 109 Election Judge.