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Acting head named at Hinckley oil company

DALLAS -- A Dallas petroleum consultant has been named acting chairman of the independent oil company founded by John Warnock Hinckley Sr., the father of the man charged with shooting President Reagan.

Clarence M. Netherland, a longtime friend of the Hinckley family, said Tuesday he expected the temporary post at the Denver-based Vanderbilt Energy Corp. to last six to 12 months while the elder Hinckley 'fights his personal family problems.'

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'We are determined to keep (Vanderbilt's) aggressive exploration program moving at a high pace,' said Netherland, who plans to travel to Denver next week to consult with Rike D. Wootten, named to replace Hinckley as president and chief executive officer.

The elder Hinckley recently wrote shareholders of his small oil company that he looked 'forward to a friendlier political environment' under the new administration.

Hinckley, chairman and founder of Vanderbilt, said in the firm's 1980 annual report that Vanderbilt's turnaround from near collapse in the mid-1970s 'could have happened only in a country such as the United States, where the free enterprise system is allowed to function.'

Vanderbilt, which Hinckley formed in Texas in 1970 with $120,000 in cash from 'half a dozen nervous friends and acquaintances and a lot of hope,' had $4.9 million in revenues last year, the annual report said.

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In his letter to shareholders on the outlook for Vanderbilt, Hinckley said: 'Most importantly, we eagerly look forward to a friendlier political environment than in recent years.' He was a large contributor to Vice President George Bush's campaign for the presidency last year.

In talking of Vanderbilt's early public and private drilling partnerships, Hinckley said 'just as things seemed to be moving ahead, the company nearly collapsed in 1973 and 1974 when, without warning, its drilling program underwriter went bankrupt, leaving Vanderbilt critically overextended.'

But Vanderbilt survived and became a 'tiny publicly owned oil company' in January 1976, when its drilling partners finally agreed to accept stock for their limited drilling interests, Hinckley said.

The company's headquarters were moved to Denver and Vanderbilt began to thrive as oil and gas prices rose.

In 1976, Vanderbilt had only 300 shareholders. By 1980, the list had grown to more than 2,000 in all 50 states and a few foreign countries, Hinckley said.

Vanderbilt currently is drilling in Texas, Oklahoma, the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana. It also has minor interests in small fields in Alberta, Canada.

Scott B. Hinckley, the older brother of John Jr., accused of attempting to assassinate Reagan, is a vice president of his father's oil company and a newly elected director.

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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 24 employees.

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