Obituary of Wayne Banes Rumley
Wayne Banes Rumley, age 88, chemical engineer, entrepreneur, Western art collector, cattleman, and philanthropist, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, passed away on May 19, 2023, from complications of Parkinson’s disease.
Wayne was born on July 13, 1934, to Joseph and Merwyn Rumley, growing up in Flint Creek, Oklahoma, with his younger brother, Warren. Starting his academic years in a one-room schoolhouse, he relied on dogged determination and a resilient work ethic to become one of the first sixteen graduates of the chemical engineering program at the University of Tulsa, obtaining a bachelor of science degree in 1960. Throughout his life, he voiced his deep appreciation for his professors and mentors at T.U.: Paul Buthod,
E.A. Howard, Ralph Kaufmann, Arthur Meehan, and Ralph Veatch. To finance his college studies, Wayne held a full-time, night shift position, at the U.S. Post Office while enrolled as a full-time engineering student and credits the expertise and encouragement of his revered mentors for giving him the confidence and tenacity to achieve his dreams.
Wayne began his career as a process engineer at Champlin Oil in Enid, Oklahoma, quickly moving to Beaumont, Texas, for the enhanced opportunity of a design engineer position with Alco Products. When his mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1962, he returned to Tulsa, accepting an engineering position at Western Supply Company. The entrepreneurial spirit, however, was stirring in his consciousness. Concerned about funding for a solo endeavor, Wayne was pleasantly surprised to learn his first wife, Barbara, had secretly saved every other one of his paychecks, as well as her own, to fund the $12,000 needed to start his own company. Barbara recognized his innovative, independent resolve and planned accordingly.
Wayne established his first company, Air Cooled Exchangers, in 1964, and then, launched the company he had always envisioned, R&R Engineering, in 1968, in Broken Arrow. Under Wayne’s leadership, R&R has thrived for 55 years as an expert in the engineering, design, and fabrication of air-cooled heat exchangers used in the chemical, petrochemical, and natural gas transmission industries. As the CEO and founder of R&R, Wayne consistently reinforced that “everything begins and ends at R&R”. Every family member and business associate knew any concern, any meeting, could only happen at R&R.
As R&R enjoyed success, Wayne began collecting art and artifacts related to Native Americans and the American West. He was passionate about building a respected representation of this aspect of American history and collected not only well-established artists and artisans, but new talent he believed held promise. He served as a trustee and director of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (formerly, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center) in Oklahoma City, continuously, since 1982, and was also a director at Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. Wayne was an avid attendee of Western and Native American art shows throughout the nation, making many friends along the way, and thoroughly enjoying learning from the artists themselves and discovering rare gems for his collection.
In the 1980s, he started the Tri-W Longhorn Cattle Company in Liberty Mounds, Oklahoma, fondly naming his favorite longhorn “Sliderule”, in honor of the one mathematical tool he was never without, even when calculators and computers became the norm. He relished spending weekends at the ranch, even when his advancing age made the ranchhands a bit worried about his well-being.
Wayne actively supported the Western Heritage Museum, Gilcrease Museum, the University of Tulsa, and the Kansas, Oklahoma schools, (which he referred to as the “Little Kansas” schools he attended as a child in Flint Creek) as well as being a generous donor to the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges in Tulsa. His commitment to the study of chemical engineering at the University of Tulsa is demonstrated by his establishment of the Wayne B. Rumley Endowed Chair in Chemical Engineering in 2012; the Wayne Rumley Scholarship for Chemical Engineering, established in 2001 and directed towards a chemical engineering student who works while attending school; the T.U. Annual Fund for the Department and College of Chemical Engineering; the W.L. Nelson Chemical Engineering Alumni Scholarship Fund; and through his devoted service on the Chemical Engineering Advisory Board at the University of Tulsa. He was inducted into the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences Hall of Fame in 2004. In addition to his engineering endeavors, he established the Barbara Joan Rumley Memorial Fund, for students aspiring to be special education teachers, in 1978, in honor of his first wife and the mother of his four children.
Wayne’s infectious grin, positive attitude, and determined spirit, complete with the endearing quirks only close associates and his family recognize, will be genuinely missed. He believed in patriarchy, steaming unprocessed stamps from envelopes, copies, copies, copies, free hotel toiletries, counting the wire hangers from the dry cleaners, wearing his clothes and shoes until they were threadbare (despite having a closet full of new items), and never throwing out expired food. He was something, alright. A self-made man with a generous spirit; an individual who made his dreams a reality.
Wayne is survived by his wife, Andrea; children, Wayna, Sharon (Coman Dinn), Wayne II, and Warren (Michlea Eaton); stepson Charles Pollard (Casey), four grandsons, Tanner, Barret (Hannah), Conner (the reincarnated “Grandpa”) Rumley and Trey Pollard; granddaughter Cayden Pollard and sister-in-law Elissa Malone. He was predeceased by his first wife, Barbara; his parents, Joe and Merwyn; grandparents Herman and Gertrude Pohlman; his brother, Warren; and his sister-in-law, Anna.
Visitation will be held 5:00-7:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 31 at Ninde Brookside Funeral Home. Funeral service 1:00 p.m. Thursday, June 1 the First Christian Church of Tulsa. In his honor, donations are welcomed for the Parkinson’s Foundation; the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges; the University of Tulsa; Kansas, OK schools; the Western Heritage Museum; or the Gilcrease Museum.
Ninde Funeral Directors, Brookside Chapel (918) 742-5556 | ninde.com