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How Aubrey McClendon changed Oklahoma City

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Former CEO of Chesapeake Aubrey McClendon, 56, passed away in a fiery car crash Wednesday afternoon.

The businessman changed Oklahoma City in many ways.

McClendon was born in Oklahoma City on July 14, 1959.

He came from a prominent Oklahoma family.

He met his wife, Kathleen Bryns McClendon, in 1978 as undergraduates at Duke University.

After graduating from Duke, McClendon became a landman, Forbes reports.

In 1989, he co-founded Chesapeake Energy Corporation, which became the second-biggest producer of natural gas and the fourteenth largest producer of oil and natural gas liquids in the U.S.

McClendon is credited with being a key player in the U.S. fracking boom.

McClendon served as chairman and chief executive officer of Chesapeake until he retired in 2013.

He retired after allegations started surfacing of possible price-fixing.

Some alleged McClendon was manipulating gas prices to make money on the side in a hedge fund, worth about $200 million, that traded in natural gas.

After leaving Chesapeake, he founded and served as the CEO of American Energy Partners.

He also owns a 20% stake in the Oklahoma City Thunder, which he helped move from Seattle in 2008.

According to the Oklahoma Gazette, McClendon is responsible for construction of Classen Curve, The Triangle at Classen Curve and the purchase of Nichols Hills Plaza.

McClendon is also the brainchild behind Pops, an iconic pit stop along Route 66.

He also served on the Board of Directors for the Boat House District in Oklahoma City.

On March 1, 2016, McClendon was indicted on conspiracy charges.

The Department of Justice announced that Aubrey McClendon was charged with conspiring to rig bids for the purchase of oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.

The indictment claims that McClendon orchestrated a conspiracy between two large oil and gas companies to not bid against each other for oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.

The conspiracy allegedly ran from December 2007 to March 2012, during which time he was CEO of Chesapeake Energy.

McClendon released the following statement on Tuesday, regarding the indictment:

“The charge that has been filed against me today is wrong and unprecedented. I have been singled out as the only person in the oil and gas industry in over 110 years since the Sherman Act became law to have been accused of this crime in relation to joint bidding on leasehold.  Anyone who knows me, my business record and the industry in which I have worked for 35 years, knows that I could not be guilty of violating any antitrust laws.  All my life I have worked to create jobs in Oklahoma, grow its economy, and to provide abundant and affordable energy to all Americans. I am proud of my track record in this industry, and I will fight to prove my innocence and to clear my name.” – Aubrey McClendon

Less than 24 hours after he was indicted, the Oklahoma City Police Department announced that McClendon had died in a fiery car accident.

Capt. Paco Balderrama says police are still investigating the crash, but added that he was traveling at a “high rate of speed,” well over the posted speed limit.

Balderrama says McClendon died instantly from the crash. After that, the 2013 Chevy Tahoe caught fire.

“He pretty much drove straight into the wall,” Balderrama said. “The information out there at the scene is that he went left of center, went through a grassy area right before colliding into the embankment. There was plenty of opportunity for him to correct and get back on the roadway and that didn’t occur.”

McClendon's death dominated national headlines Wednesday afternoon.

Jim Cramer of CNBC saying even if you didn't like him, he did a lot for Oklahoma City.

"I mean if you said you liked Aubrey there would be 10 guys who would hate you. If you defended Aubrey, they would say do you know who you're defending? But then you'd spend time and you said you know there's two sides to every story and there was just a gentle, soulful guy," said Cramer. "He had tremendous, tremendous ideas about what our country was going to do to be energy independent. He loved that. He was always telling me, listen we're this close to having natural gas vehicles, the F150, the natural gas. He had that natural gas motorcycle."

McClendon appeared on Flashpoint on NewsChannel 4 several times.

Host, Mike Turpen, was a good friend and spoke about him to Kevin Ogle on Wednesday.

"I sent him an e-mail last night. He did not respond. It all breaks my heart. I'm devastated. I was trying to tell him in the e-mail that this too shall pass, that he will work through it," said Turpen. "Aubrey is one of the greatest men I've ever known. He's done more for Oklahoma City than I can even think of. Wonderful, wonderful husband and father. I am just devastated."

After word of his death spread, many started sending their condolences.

"I am overcome with grief. Aubrey McClendon was a visionary community leader, a trusted business partner and a passionate member of the Thunder family. But more than anything, he was a brother and a dear friend. His love of his community and his desire to make Oklahoma a better place will forever inspire all of us. Louise and I offer our love and prayers to Katie and the McClendon family," a statement from  Oklahoma City Thunder Chairman Clayton Bennett.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Aubrey McClendon’s loved ones today. He played an instrumental role in America’s energy renaissance and his work will have a lasting impact on our city, state and country.  He served as a leader in the growth and prosperity of Oklahoma City for many years, and his philanthropic efforts and other contributions have helped countless people," Devon Energy statement.

“It is with deep sadness that AELP confirms that earlier today, its founder, Aubrey K. McClendon died in a car accident on Midwest Boulevard in Oklahoma City. Aubrey’s tremendous leadership, vision, and passion for the energy industry had an impact on the community, the country, and the world. We are tremendously proud of his legacy and will continue to work hard to live up to the unmatched standards he set for excellence and integrity. We will deeply mourn his loss and please join us in expressing our condolences to his family,” a statement from American Energy Partners read.

"This is not only a heartbreaking day for me but a sad day for all of Oklahoma.  I met Aubrey when he was 23 years old and had the privilege of being his partner for 23 years. I have never met a man who worked harder or had more love for his state than Aubrey McClendon. My heart and prayers go out to Katie and the family, " Tom L. Ward Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tapstone Energy

“Chesapeake is deeply saddened by the news that we have heard today and our thoughts and prayers are with the McClendon family during this difficult time,” a statement from Chesapeake Energy read.

“I’ve known Aubrey McClendon for nearly 25 years. He was a major player in leading the stunning energy renaissance in America. He was charismatic and a true American entrepreneur. No individual is without flaws, but his impact on American energy will be long-lasting,” a statement from T. Boone Pickens read.

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with Aubrey’s family. We will always appreciate and remember Aubrey’s generosity and civic pride in our community- from his support of countless local charities to the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of OKC. to the arts. His philanthropic investments in local schools and universities, the Boathouse District and throughout our city consistently raised the standards of what Oklahoma City could be. His love and support of this community will loom large for decades to come,” said Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.

"The death of Aubrey McClendon is a tremendous tragedy for his family and for Oklahoma. Cindy and I pray the Lord's comfort over his family and the many people that Aubrey's life touched. His death leaves an empty void for many in the Oklahoma City community," Sen. James Lankford said.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Aubrey McClendon's family, friends and colleagues during this very difficult time. Aubrey will be remembered for his innovations in the oil and natural gas industry, his civic generosity and being a driving force to help grow economic opportunities for Oklahoma City. He was a visionary who raised the profile of Oklahoma," Gov. Mary Fallin said.

"Today's events are tragic in many ways. Aubrey McClendon was a pioneer in the oil and natural gas industry. His vision and leadership helped make Oklahoma the leader it is in oil and natural gas development. The impact of his life's work is evident throughout the industry. He was also an incredibly proud Oklahoman who loved his state and demonstrated that through incredible generosity. Most importantly, he was a loving husband and father. We mourn with the McClendon family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers," a statement from Chad Warmington, president of Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association.

"Aubrey McClendon was passionate about his family, his business and Duke University.  His generosity helped transform Duke in ways large and small, from his commitment to enhancing student life on campus, to his support for the Duke Chapel, to his love of Duke athletics.  We grieve with Katie, Will, Callie and Jack, as we also celebrate his legacy at Duke and beyond," a statement from Duke University, where McClendon attended college, read.

, “I am personally shocked and saddened by Aubrey’s untimely passing.  Aubrey’s extraordinary talent and leadership in forming and ultimately guiding each business and management team to independence with such success and scale is unprecedented. We will greatly miss his perspective and the unbridled optimism and enthusiasm he brought to everything he did and to everyone with whom he worked.  His legacy will live on in the independent management teams he helped create, comprised of beloved employees and partners, as they lead each of these distinct businesses into the future and in the value they will deliver for many years to come.  His insatiable, thought inspiring intellectual curiosity to always find the good in everything and make it better, which manifested itself through dozens of philanthropic organizations and efforts, will be greatly missed, particularly in his dearly loved home town of Oklahoma City.  While we remain proud of our partnership with him, we are most deeply saddened by the loss of a friend.  His family remains in the thoughts and prayers of all of us at EMG and our numerous financial partners," John T. Raymond, founder and CEO of Energy & Minerals Group, said in a statement.

No word yet on when services for McClendon will be held.