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John Warnock Hinckley Sr., the father of the man...

NEW YORK -- John Warnock Hinckley Sr., the father of the man accused of shooting President Reagan, founded a small independent oil and gas company 11 years ago that almost went bankrupt and then turned around to post $4.9 million in revenues last year.

Hinckley, the president of Denver-based Vanderbilt Energy Corp., told his more than 2,000 shareholders in the company's 1980 annual report that 'we are in better shape to cope' with problems in the oil and gas business than ever before, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Hinckley, apparently a deeply religious man with strong ties to the Episcopal Church, ended his 1980 letter to shareholders with a verse from Proverbs 16:3: 'Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed,' the newspaper said.

In 1970 Hinckley started Vanderbilt in Texas with $120,000 from a small group of 'nervous friends and acquaintances and a lot of hope,' according to the 1980 annual report. The company had no drilling leases or staff, the Journal said.

Vanderbilt nearly failed in 1973 and 1974 when the underwriter of its drilling program went bankrupt and left the company 'critically overextended,' the paper quoted the annual report as saying.

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Hinckley moved the company's headquarters to Denver in the mid-1970s and Vanderbilt began to thrive as prices for domestic oil and gas rose.

In 1980 Vanderbilt earned $805,042, or 35 cents a share, up from $502,595, or 24 cents a share, in 1979. Revenues climbed to $4.9 million last year from $3.7 million the prior year.

Vanderbilt explores for and produces crude oil and natural gas in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, West Virginia, Wyoming, Louisiana and Alberta, Canada.

As of September 1979 Vanderbilt Energy had 80 producing oil wells and 120 natural gas wells, according to Standard & Poor's corporate records.

Scott B. Hinckley, the older brother of John Jr., who is accused of shooting Reagan and three other men Monday, is vice president of his father's oil company and a newly elected director. In 1977 Scott Hinckley worked as a petroleum engineer for the firm.

John Hinckley Sr. owns 6.9 percent of Vanderbilt's stock. Officers and directors control 20.3 percent of the company's common shares.

Vanderbilt has 20 employees.

In 1979 the company produced 54,021 barrels of oil and 1,398,257 thousand cubic feet of gas. Its reserves -- both proved and unproved -- totaled 366,706 barrels of oil and 12,092,000 thousand cubic feet of gas.

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Vanderbilt has three wholly owned subsidiaries: Vanderbilt Resources Corp., Vanderbilt of Canada ltd. and Bell Western corp.

Vanderbilt's stock is traded on the over-the-counter market.

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