Like many of his generation, Haynes interrupted college studies to serve in World War II with the U.S. Navy. He returned to continue his studies, and he graduated from Texas A&M University in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He then began a 34-year career with Standard Oil. By 1969, he was named president of the company and later served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer before his retirement in 1981.
Haynes then embarked on a 28-year career as a consultant and trusted advisor to the Bechtel companies, the Bechtel family, and Fremont Group, a private investment company. Haynes served as a member of the boards of directors of Bechtel Group, Inc. and Fremont Group, and chaired Bechtel’s board of counselors, a group of independent, globally experienced senior executives who advise Bechtel on various aspects of its business activities. At the same time, he also was a director of many prominent organizations, including the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), PACCAR Inc, Citicorp-Citibank, Hewlett- Packard, The Boeing Company, and Weyerhaeuser.
“Bill was an extraordinary man,” said Bechtel Chairman and CEO Riley Bechtel. “All of us at Bechtel who worked closely with Bill feel honored that he chose to take up a second career with us, and privileged to have benefitted from his remarkable tutorship, advice, active help, and friendship.”
"Bill Haynes was our partner and friend. He took an early and lasting interest in Fremont Group and in all of us. Bill was a gifted executive and an example of everything good in a person. We will miss him very much,” said Fremont Group President and CEO Alan Dachs.
A native of Forth Worth, Texas, Haynes received Texas A&M’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1972, as well as top honors from the engineering college and civil engineering department. He was the university’s first recipient of its Geosciences and Earth Resources Medal for Distinguished Achievement in 1978. In 2007, more than sixty individuals, corporations, and foundations raised more than $3.5 million to endow the Harold J. Haynes Dean’s Chair in Engineering at the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M, the largest endowed chair at inception in the history of the college.
Haynes is survived by Reta, his wife of 64 years, three daughters, six grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.