Eugene Isenberg , the former chairman and CEO of Nabors Industries Ltd ., died March 16, the company said March 18.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gene's wife, Ronnie; his two daughters, Diane and Lynda; his beloved grandchildren and his entire family," said Anthony G. Petrello , chairman and CEO.

Isenberg had been both chairman of the board of directors and CEO from 1987-2011, the company said.

Isenberg first joined Nabors after working as chairman and principle shareholder for a steel building products company, Nabors said, noting that Isenberg and Marty Whitman , a value investor, acquired a portion of Nabors in 1986, when it was still controlled by Anglo Drilling , which was bankrupt.

Whitman and Isenberg "took control of the company," whose name was changed to Nabors, the company said.

Isenberg held a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, a master’s degree from Princeton University and had completed MIT’s program for senior executives, the company said.

Isenberg was on the board of governors of the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) as well as the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation (Nasdaq) and the American Stock Exchange, the company said.

He was a member of the National Petroleum Council, Nabors added.

Isenberg and his wife supported numerous philanthropies in education, medicine and performing arts, the company said, noting that they helped found Parkside School in New York, an elementary school for children who have language-based learning difficulties.

Most recently, Isenberg had set up the Isenberg Education Fund, which provides scholarships to Nabors employees and their families, the company added.

Petrello continued, "Gene was a pioneer for Nabors in many ways. He was very forward-thinking and all of our employees are grateful for his leadership. He was responsible for establishing the principles that steered the company from a minor player to the largest land driller in the world, a feat more remarkable since it was accomplished during one of the most challenging periods in the inherently cyclical drilling industry.”

“His financial acumen, drive, aggressiveness—and humor—were all legendary. He was a teacher to many. His quests to succeed and his demands to perform stretched everyone, motivating them to meet his high expectations. His legacy includes the vibrant company made up of 29,000 highly skilled people that we have today,” he added.

Nabors Industries Ltd. has a Houston-based operations office. It owns and operates a land-based drilling