Eugene Isenberg, former chairman and CEO of Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE: NBR), passed away on March 16. Isenberg served as chairman of the board of directors and CEO from 1987 until late 2011. During his 25-year tenure, Isenberg grew Nabors from bankruptcy to an S&P 500 index company with an enterprise value exceeding $9 billion.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gene's wife, Ronnie; his two daughters, Diane and Lynda; his beloved grandchildren and his entire family," said Chairman and CEO Anthony G. Petrello. "Gene was a pioneer for Nabors in many ways. He was very forward-thinking and all of our employees are grateful for his leadership. He was responsible for establishing the principles that steered the company from a minor player to the largest land driller in the world, a feat more remarkable since it was accomplished during one of the most challenging periods in the inherently cyclical drilling industry. His financial acumen, drive, aggressiveness—and humor—were all legendary. He was a teacher to many. His quests to succeed and his demands to perform stretched everyone, motivating them to meet his high expectations. His legacy includes the vibrant company made up of 29,000 highly skilled people that we have today."
Isenberg received a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts, a master's degree from Princeton University and completed the Program for Senior Executives at MIT. He began his career with Exxon Corp. in 1952 and subsequently was Chairman and principal shareholder of a steel building products company prior to joining Nabors.
Outside of Nabors, Isenberg served as a member of the Board of Governors of the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation (NASDAQ), and the American Stock Exchange. He was also a member of the National Petroleum Council, which advises the US Secretary of Energy.
Isenberg offered philanthropic support to causes he believed in, particularly education, medicine and the performing arts. Isenberg was a particularly strong advocate of education, often making resources available to those unable to afford or access quality education. He was President of the UMASS (University of Massachusetts) Amherst Foundation where he endowed three professorships in environmental science, technology management and engineering.
Isenberg and his wife were instrumental in the founding and support of the Parkside School in New York, which provides special education to elementary school children from diverse ethnic, social and economic backgrounds who have a range of language-based learning difficulties. He was also a contributor to Massachusetts General Hospital, LIFE Disabled American War Veterans, Columbia University Medical School, Palm Beach Opera and numerous other charitable and performing arts organizations.
Most recently, he founded the Isenberg Education Fund which provides educational scholarships to Nabors employees and their families. To date, that fund has provided support to more than 300 Nabors employees and their families.