FARMINGTON - Tom Dugan was ribbed and celebrated Thursday night as the subject of Navajo Ministries' third annual "celebrity" charitable roast.

Dugan endured jokes about his frugality, his age and his beloved football teams in front of a full house at the Farmington Civic Center.

Dugan founded Dugan Production Corp. in 1959, becoming a pioneer in the San Juan Basin's burgeoning natural gas production. The company now has more than 150 employees and about 1,000 wells in the Four Corners.

Jim Henderson, San Juan County commissioner and president emeritus of San Juan College, joked about Dugan's longevity.

"Fifty years!" Henderson said. "That's half of New Mexico's centennial. And no, I'm not calling you old. That's just a really long time."

Henderson joked that Dugan remains skeptical of technological gadgets like the iPad, predicting they will be replaced by a return to Big Chief writing pads.

Judge John Dean, a childhood friend of Dugan's son, Marshall, joked about Dugan's reputation for pinching pennies.

"He counts pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars, dollars," Dean said. "He doesn't like to let any of them go."

Dugan acknowledged his parsimonious reputation during his own remarks. "Yes, I am careful with my dollars, and that's why I have a few," he said.

Dean, however, said he carries around in his wallet a reminder of Dugan's generosity a years-old blank check.

Dean recalled one well he worked on for Dugan as a youth.


Dugan said he resold that well and others nearby for a profit.

"I sold that group of wells to the Navajo oil company for a lot more than I paid you," he said.

Dugan, age 86, grew up near Potwin, Kan. and first came to the San Juan Basin in 1952. He worked for several large companies before starting his own.

He's also a decorated World War II veteran who was wounded in action in the Philippines, for which he received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Mayor Tommy Roberts recalled his years working for Dugan as the company's lawyer from 1979 to 1984. "I learned an awful lot," Roberts said.

Dugan at one point began driving a Cadillac El Dorado to work, a vehicle that seemed out of character with his pickup personality. Dugan also is known by his friends as an avid Denver Broncos and Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Steve Henke, president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, recalled his time as district manager of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Farmington field office, when his agency occasionally battled Dugan over well inspections.

Dugan Production remains one of the San Juan Basin's largest independent producers. The company is working with Encana, a Canadian energy firm, to test the potential of producing oil from the San Juan Basin's Mancos Shale.

The roast benefited the Four Corners Home for Children, a program of Navajo Ministries. During the past two years, previous roasts raised $25,000.

The previous honorees were Henderson in 2011 and Joyce Donald, the leader of Farmington's Better Business Bureau and a longtime community volunteer, in 2010.

Dugan got the last word Thursday night.

"I think we've heard enough talk, so I think I'll just sit down," he said. "It's getting close to my bedtime."