sidebar menu icon


DUNAGAN, JOHN CONRAD (1914–1995). Conrad Dunagan, businessman, philanthropist, and historian, was born in Midland, Texas, on December 31, 1914, to John Claiborne and Ada Lois (Hicks) Dunagan. After he graduated from Midland High School in 1931, he worked in the Midland Bottling Company until he entered the University of Texas in 1933. He married Kathlyn Cosper on August 21, 1933, and the couple moved to Monahans, where Dunagan managed the Coca-Cola Bottling Company until 1935. The couple returned to the university and continued their studies from 1935 to 1937, after which they moved back to Monahans. There they were both employed by First State Bank, where Conrad was an officer. The Dunagans' residence in Monahans was continuous for the remainder of their lives except for 1940–41, when Conrad worked as an assistant bank examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. He had a long career with the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, beginning as manager and ending as chairman of the board in 1983. Dunagan was highly active in bottling circles during most of his business career. He served on the executive committee of the National Soft Drink Association from 1961 to 1973, on the Standardization Committee of the Coca-Cola Bottlers Association, (U.S.A.), from 1960 to 1974, and as president of the Texas Bottlers Association in 1958. He was a cofounder of Southwest Canners, Incorporated, of Portales, New Mexico, in 1973. In the Permian Basin, he served as a director of the First State Bank, Monahans, from 1937 to 1995, and as chairman of the board from 1967 to 1984. He was also cofounder and chairman of the board of Texas Savings and Loan Association, Monahans, from 1965 to 1982, and an officer of Kermit (Texas) State Bank from 1944 to 1995. His other business activity included serving as president of Midessa TV, Incorporated (KMID), from 1954 until 1983.

In civic affairs, he served on the Monahans City Council in 1939, on the Good Neighbor Commission from 1955 to 1961, and in the group that organized the Monahans Sandhills State Historic Parkqv. From 1958 to 1961, Dunagan was president of the park association. He also supported the establishment of the Million Barrel Museum in Monahans and served on the board of the Historical Association of Ward County. He was an enthusiastic and generous supporter of educational and historical organizations. He served as president of the Texas State Historical Association in 1986–87, of the West Texas Historical Association in 1983–84, and of the Permian Historical Society in 1962–63. He was an active member of the Texas Folklore Society and of the Philosophical Society of Texas. In addition to significant gifts to the Permian Historical Society and the West Texas Historical Association, he established a research fellowship in Texas studies at the Texas State Historical Association to support the New Handbook of Texas project. He also endowed the J. Conrad Dunagan Professorship at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

He wrote the New Handbook of Texas entry on the soft-drink industry and two monographs, Eugene Holman, a Texan of Distinction (1989) and The Holman Hotel: Its Owners and Early Monahans (1988). Widely recognized in the Permian Basin region as an effective supporter of education, Dunagan was appointed to the President's Council on Education by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1955. He played a key role in the establishment of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in 1969, served on the university's development board from 1976 to 1995, and endowed merit scholarships at the institution. He also founded the Permian Honor Scholarship Foundation in 1976, headed the foundation until 1995, and, with his family, endowed numerous scholarships. By 1995 about 2,000 Permian Basin students had received awards from this foundation. Dunagan also served as a member of the Executive Committee of the University of Texas System Chancellor's Council.

Numerous organizations awarded honors to Dunagan, including the Monahans Chamber of Commerce (Outstanding Citizen Award, 1964), the Jaycees (Hall of Leadership, 1983), the Southwest Conference of Foundations (Founder Spirit Award, 1991), the Texas State Historical Association (Honorary Life Member of the Executive Council, 1988), the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (Distinguished Patron, 1991), the Permian Historical Society (Permian Academy of History, 1983), and the Heritage of Odessa Foundation (Community Statesman Award for Philanthropy, 1994). Dunagan died in a Dallas hospital on February 10, 1995. He was survived by his wife and five children.

Southwestern Historical Quarterly, April 1995. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Roger M. Olien

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Roger M. Olien, "Dunagan, John Conrad," accessed November 20, 2017,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.