In memoriam: John Wallace and Robert Blackwell

November 8, 2021 By    

The propane industry recently lost two leaders: LP Gas Hall of Famer John Wallace of Long Beach, California, died on Aug. 4 at the age of 94, and Independent Propane’s Robert Blackwell of Evergreen, Colorado, died Sept. 7 at age 84.

John Wallace


Wallace, an LP Gas Hall of Famer in the Class of 2012, joined Petrolane, his hometown-based company, in 1950 following school and World War II military service. Wallace attended Stanford University, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and history.

After another tour of duty in the Korean War, Wallace returned in 1952 to work as a dispatcher for Petrolane’s wholesale operation in Bakersfield. His work on the retail side earned him the title of executive vice president by the mid-1960s.

In June 1984, Wallace, who had earned the title of CEO and president, sold the company in a $1 billion sale to energy giant Texas Eastern Corp.

Wallace served his community through numerous nonprofit boards, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach, St. Mary Medical Center, Boy Scouts and United Way.

Robert Blackwell


Blackwell attended the University of Texas, Austin, and graduated in 1960 with a bachelor’s of science in electrical engineering. He also joined the Air National Guard.

He was working as an engineer with defense contractor Martin Marietta when he bought his first propane delivery truck. He started Bob’s Gas and Chemical, and when he wasn’t working at Martin, he would deliver propane to homes in the mountains of Jefferson County, Colorado.

In 1974, Blackwell left his engineering job to run the propane business full time. He relocated the business to Pine Junction, renamed the company to Action Gas, and then purchased Independent Gas Co., a small retail propane operation in nearby Granby. Eventually, Blackwell started doing business under the Independent Propane name at both locations.

He was involved in both the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) and the Colorado Propane Gas Association. Along with being the NPGA’s elected state director for Colorado in 2020, he served on the board of directors for both organizations, and held numerous committee memberships throughout his tenure.


A celebration of life for Wallace will be scheduled for a later date.

A memorial service was held for Blackwell on Oct. 30 in Evergreen, Colorado.

The LP Gas magazine staff sends its condolences to the Wallace and Blackwell families, their friends and their colleagues.

About the Author:

Danielle Pesta is the senior digital media manager for North Coast Media, the parent company of LP Gas. She can be reached at

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