Tributes paid to founder of Lincolnshire Conoco


Tributes were paid to one of Conoco’s founders in Killingholme.

Richard Kearton died at Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, Grimsby on February 22, aged 92.

He was a devoted family man, a passionate Rotarian and a pioneer in the oil industry in North Lincolnshire.

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Conoco’s Humber Refinery was built in the late 1960s. It was built by Continental Oil Company. In 2012, ConocoPhillips split into two standalone publicly traded companies, one of which is Phillips 66.

In recognition of his management skills and the corporate culture he created, Phillips66 Managing Director Darren Cunningham said: “Dick was one of the very first British employees at the Humber Refinery, then called the Continental Oil Company, he was tasked with recruiting a new team, initially tasked with commissioning and then managing the most complex refinery of its time.

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Richard Kearton MBE

“More than fifty years later, it is still the most sophisticated refinery in Europe, and Dick was instrumental in defining the whole philosophy and culture of the Humber refinery that still exists today, where all employees are treated as members of a valued team.

“He had a long and distinguished career here before retiring in August 1992. Many employees, past and present, still remember him fondly. In 2018, he joined us in celebrating our 50th anniversary. .and Birthday.

“Very few people are both visionary and practical, combined with a truly ethical, generous and great company. He left a legacy here that will be missed and remembered by many.”

He retired from Conoco 30 years ago.

His 66-year-old wife, Pat, recalled him walking through farmland with fellow Conoco chiefs George Peters and Lou Parks as they drew up plans for the refinery in the mid-1960s.

The Phillips 66 Humber Refinery
The Phillips 66 Humber Refinery

Richard’s job was to recruit the workforce as a manager in charge of human resources.

Son Paul said: “It was the workforce that he was passionate about. They were his engine. He really believed it was about a system. An example of that was that there was no no company cars, except for the general manager. This was because he never believed in different categories of staff. Everyone should be treated equally and as one company.

“He set up a system of recruiting highly qualified people and touring the universities. They called it the milk tour to find the best graduates. Some of them rose to very high positions within the company.”

He said his father came from humble beginnings in Sunderland and after completing his national service in the army he went to study geography, economics and history at Durham University.

His first job was at Rugby, before becoming officer in charge of the nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, Somerset. Later he worked at Esso in Southampton where he gained valuable experience in human resources.

The Phillips 66 Humber Refinery
Phillips 66 Humber Refinery

Pat said: “He was passionate about equality and had an ambition to create a one-class society. He realized that when he came here to start Conoco. He was a dedicated family man and loved his choir and his service in the Rotary Club in Immingham.He enjoyed hiking in the mountains.

She added: “He was a steadfast, caring man and a loving husband.”

Paul added: “He was a strong character. He was always fair. He was a good judge of character, generous and warm. Every time we went out people greeted him and remembered the good times at the refinery. and how he had helped them.”

For his services to industry and the local community he was awarded an MBE and Pat and Paul joined him at Buckingham Palace in August 1988 to receive his medal.

He also received a Paul Harris Award from Rotary Club International.

Richard, whom his friends affectionately nicknamed Dick, loved to sing and was a member of the Grimsby Orpheus Male Voice Choir.

A funeral service will be held at Grimsby Crematorium on Friday March 18 at 1:30 p.m. Only family flowers were requested by his family with donations in Richard’s memory to go to the British Heart Foundation or St Andrew’s Hospice. They can be sent to JW Emberson Funeral Directors, 81 Macaulay Street, Grimsby, DN31 2DS.

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