|By Ziva Branstetter, Tulsa World, Okla.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"I really honestly need to make some money right now. You get into big gifts, I mean, I've got to make some more money," he says, pausing on each word for emphasis.
A computer screen with red and blue charts sits behind his desk, tracking the performance of his energy commodities fund,
One of the country's richest men, the
Pickens says he has donated almost as much as he's now worth, including
He says he plans on giving away more money to nonprofit causes he supports, including OSU, medical research and groups that help veterans.
To do that he needs to make more, he told the
"I will go out of here in a box, is the way that I will retire," he says, leaning back in an armchair in front of his desk. "Because I like to work. I really do enjoy it, and I like to make money and I like to give it away."
Pickens, who turns 85 Wednesday, is seemingly undeterred by recent events that might discourage others at any age.
His idea to benefit his beloved alma matter by insuring the lives of 27 OSU alumni turned into a two-state legal battle, costing Pickens an estimated
The family was struck by tragedy
The death came shortly before Pickens learned about the blog of his 58-year-old son, Michael. The blog postings led Pickens to sue his son in
In court filings, Pickens strongly denies his son's allegations of abusive behavior and asks a judge to prevent "further public disclosure of private facts."
Pickens and his fourth wife, Madeleine, are also divorcing after seven years.
Repeating a lifelong theme, the octogenarian remains confident he will rise above his recent setbacks. He took his
Pickens is still betting big on the future of natural gas, particularly to fuel 18-wheelers, as a way to break the country's dependence on foreign oil.
"I am an optimistic guy, and if I get knocked on my ass I think I'm going to come back. That's happened a few times, and there has always been a recovery," Pickens says.
'Gotta pick it up'
Those who know him say Pickens finds redemption in hard work.
"It's just something in Boone that he will always succeed," she says.
When he doesn't travel, Pickens works out most days with a trainer who arrives at his house at