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Thu Dec 18, 2014, 01:19 PM

Islands of the Oil Kings: Part 3 -- Reach for the stars

[font size=4]Toddie Lee Wynne’s Matagorda Island entered the space age with the world’s first privately funded space launch[/font]

Despite a near-fatal 1943 heart attack, Dallas’ Toddie Lee Wynne would outlive all of his contemporaries and become the sole owner of the lower third of Matagorda Island. In the 1980s, he harnessed his fortune to finance the world’s first private space launch at his island compound. But the countdown for the Conestoga 1 rocket was also the final countdown for Wynne.

As the summer of 1982 unwound in South Texas, the ranch hands on Matagorda Island saw the gleaming white airliner parked on the tarmac near the sidewalk to the main house. On the tail was the familiar logo of American Liberty Oil.

The boss had arrived.

Livestock and cowboys came and left by barge.

But Dallas oilman Toddie Lee Wynne, owner of the southern third of the Matagorda, boarded his plane at Love Field and, an hour and a half later, walked into the labyrinthine one-story house.

This is the conclusion of the interactive article with photos and video. Read more at http://res.dallasnews.com/interactives/oilkings/part3/ .

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