These days the word "legend" gets tossed around pretty loosely, but billionaire developer and energy pioneer George Mitchell earned the label and then some.
It is a boot strapping story of personal accomplishment and staggering success.
"I think he's a model of living life fully, a symbol of our region, of opportunity in our region and just a thoroughly decent man," said Joe Pratt, University of Houston Historian and director of the Houston History Center.
Born on Galveston Island to Greek immigrant parents, Mitchell worked his way through Texas A&M, earning top engineering honors. They were skills he put to work in the oil patch with astounding proficiency and keen, clear eyed instinct.
"It isn't luck you've got to have. You got to have knowledge. You know you are taking the risk, but you got to be sure the risks are worth it," said Mitchell in a 2001 interview with Fox 26.
It was the intangible some call "vision" that set Mitchell apart. He founded and bankrolled The Woodlands - a cutting edge, master plan community that's evolved into a global model of thoughtful development and Mitchell's greatest pride.
"The Woodlands you can see the beauty of it. You can see the success of it," said Mitchell.
"He imagined another way of living and unlike any other person in that period he actually
builds a city," said Pratt.
But Mitchell's most profound legacy is the pioneering energy extraction process of horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing - a technique that's freed gargantuan supplies of gas and oil once thought unreachable. The innovation has dramatically improved the nation's energy security for decades to come.
"He pursues it for 17 years and suddenly a revolution occurs in our supply of oil and gas," explained Pratt.
His life work generated a multi-billion dollar fortune that Mitchell and his wife Cynthia generously shared.
Mitchell gifted more than $100 million dollars to Texas A&M and extended enormous bequests to UTMB and the University of Houston as well.
But it was an abiding love of his native Galveston that drew his greatest commitment. Mitchell is credited with single-handedly revitalizing the island community with the careful restoration of dozens of historic structures.
"He literally transformed both the face and the future of Galveston," said Pratt.
"Of course, he was 20 years ahead of all of us and that was just the kind of guy he was. Just a terrific man. I feel blessed and privileged to have worked for him," said Bill Ross, Vice President of Mitchell Historic Properties.
In a statement George Mitchell's family called his story "quintessentially American".