Billion-Dollar Brilliance OC Launched Tabor into Remarkable Law Career

By Brooks Stephenson

OC helped mold me and helped me grow scholastically, spiritually and socially. It made Harvard easier. Jay Tabor

A 4.0 grade-point average, magna cum laude Harvard Law graduate, and renowned corporate mergers and acquisitions lawyer are just a few of the notable things on Jay Tabor’s resume. 

Jay (86) recently represented Kinder Morgan in its $38 billion acquisition of El Paso Corporation, for which the Am Law Daily named him “Dealmaker of the Week.” 

He has represented General Electric in numerous important transactions, including its $20 billion joint venture with Comcast for the ownership of NBC Universal and its $3.3 billion acquisition of Lufkin Industries. Jay is even the youngest of the 11 lawyers ranked by Chambers USA in the top tier of Corporate/M&A lawyers in Texas. 

But these accolades tell a very small part of his story. 

Video Interview with Jay Tabor

Jay has a history and political science degree from Oklahoma Christian. Dr. John Maple (72), whom Tabor listed as his biggest faculty influence at OC, raved about his former student and the success he’s had. 

“Jay was always very, very intelligent. That is apparent by his record,” Maple said. “He is one of the most diligent students I have had. Not many people can graduate with a 4.0 in three years, and I believe he is one of only two OC grads to be accepted to Harvard Law.” 

Jay will not take credit for his brilliance, though. He credits his parents for giving him a strong sense of commitment, one of the biggest secrets to his immense success. 

“My parents always taught me to work hard, and that if you want something to devote yourself to it,” Jay said. “You can make up for less talent with more work. You may have to get up earlier and stay up later than everyone else, but if it means enough, you can do it.” 

Jay has never let his drive to succeed overshadow others. In fact, Maple remembers him as a student that people loved. 

“Jay was very fun to teach,” Maple said. “He was congenial, personable – just an overall nice guy. He had a great group of buddies who cared a lot about each other and everyone on campus.” 

Jay and Dewey Leggett (86) were friends before college, roommates at OC, in each other’s weddings, and stay in contact today. Even though Dewey could rattle off many humorous stories about Jay, he knows his intelligence is elite. 

“Jay is one of the world’s nicest guys ever. He’s also probably the smartest guy who has ever graduated from OC,” Dewey said. “We both graduated with a 4.0, but mine were always like 91 and Jay’s were always 98. That’s who he was; he would just study, study, study. He always wanted knowledge.” 

Along with his parents, Jay praises his alma mater for helping him to develop into the person he is today. 

“OC focuses on the whole person,” Jay said. “It helped mold me and helped me grow scholastically, spiritually and socially. Most of the faculty could have gone and made more money elsewhere, but they were there to cement and instill Christian values and to build relationships. They taught me to write clearly, express myself clearly and think analytically, and it made Harvard easier. 

“OC’s size also made it very personable and gave you a good opportunity to develop long-term relationships. I came into OC a kid, and left as an adult who had matured a lot.” 

Jay and his wife, Susan (Fuller 87), share many of the same qualities and values, including their emphasis on relationships. One relationship that is near to their hearts is the one they made with the late Dr. John Thompson (78). 

Thompson taught both Tabors, and they both had an extreme respect for him. When he passed away in 2008, the Tabors helped begin the John Thompson Memorial Endowment. 

“We wanted to acknowledge the role that he played in our success and many others in the school,” Jay said. “OC gave Susan and I the educational start we needed, not only academically, but in developing the all-around person. The blessings we received have enabled us to be in a position to now give back ourselves.” 

The Tabors also gave the anchor gift for a history scholarship endowment to honor Maple and his wife Connie (Hukle 95). (Read more on page 42.) 

It is easy to look at success stories like this and focus on the perfect GPA, impressive honors and billion-dollar deals. But doing that does an injustice to Jay’s story. 

When OC honored him as a distinguished alumnus from the Department of History and Political Science at last year’s Homecoming, the university recognized Jay’s hard work, humility and heart for others along with his accomplishments. 

“Obviously, Jay is very successful and could get the award solely based on that,” Maple said. “But he is also deserving because of his generosity and all that he stands for.” 

Summer 2014

View more stories from the Summer 2014 issue of Vision magazine.