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Legends Dinner

November 7 @ 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm CST


Celebrating the past, present, and future

Our annual Legends Dinner honors individuals who have made a lasting impact on the field of geology, the petroleum industry, or their community. This event celebrates their accomplishments and the past, present, and future of Earth sciences in Oklahoma.

About the event

Typically held in early November, this event honors individuals in three categories: Pioneer Legend, Historical Legend, and Living Legend. Honorees are nominated and selected by the OGF board and volunteers, and the event presents an opportunity to celebrate these individuals and their impact on their industry and community.

Since starting the Legends Dinner in 2007, we have honored 53 legends who have made an impact in Oklahoma.

Join us for our next Legends Dinner – November 7, 2024

2023 Legends Dinner

The 2023 Legends Dinner was held on November 2,at the Petroleum Clib Event Center in Oklahoma City. Honorees were Pioneer Legend Thomas Baker “Tom” Slick (1883-1930) and Historical Legend Lloyd Gatewood (1920-2011). This outstanding event was well-attended by both honoree’s families and members of the Oklahoma geoscience and oil & gas communities. Accepting on behalf of the Slick family was grandson Chuck Slick, and on behalf of the Gatewood family was son Kent and daughter Donna Gatewood.

Please plan on joining us November 7, 2024, when we will celebrate and honor the accomplishments of a new slate of Oklahoma oil and geoscience Legends.

2022 Annual Report


November 7
5:30 pm - 9:00 pm CST
Event Category:


The Petroleum Club Event Center
4040 N Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK 73105 United States


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Legends Dinner Ticket
$ 60.00

Our Legends

We honor individuals in three categories: Pioneer Legend (born prior to 1900), Historical Legend (born after 1900 but honored posthumously), and Living Legend. 

2024 Honorees

The 2024 Legends Dinner will be held on Thursday, November 7 at the Petroleum Club Event Center in Oklhoma City. This outstanding event will honor individuals who have made a tremendous impact on Oklahoma and our profession. Please plan on joining us November 7, 2024, when we will celebrate and honor the accomplishments of a new slate of Oklahoma oil and geoscience Legends.

Pioneer Legend Thomas Baker “Tom” Slick (1883-1930) 

Historical Legend Lloyd Ellis Gatewood (1920-2011)

Pioneer Legends

Frank Buttram was born in a log cabin on April 2, 1886, to Abe and Almira Buttram in the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, in Love County, Oklahoma. When Frank was three years old, his family participated in the famous land run of April 22, 1889, and homesteaded on 160 acres in what is now Cleveland County, Oklahoma. The family eventually moved to a farm north of Shawnee in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma.

Frank established a strong work ethic early, earning his first dollar at eight years old, chopping cotton. During his early years, Frank milked cows and did farm work while attending a one-room country school, where at age 18, he started teaching first grade for $35/month. Frank started college in Edmond, Oklahoma, at the Territorial Normal School (now the University of Central Oklahoma). After meeting Dr. Charles Gould, State Geologist, and Dr. D.W. Ohern, professor of Geology at the University of Oklahoma, Frank Buttram discovered his love of Geology and switched to OU and completed his B.A. degree in 1910. While working part-time at the Oklahoma Geological Survey, Frank earned his Masters’s degree in Geology from OU in 1912.

Frank worked for the Geological Survey from 1911-1914, during which he published “Glass Sands of Oklahoma” (which resulted in a large glass industry being established in the State), “Volcanic Dust in Oklahoma,” and “The Cushing Oil Field.” His field research in 1913-14 leading up to this last publication led Frank Buttram to conclude that many significant undrilled oil prospects remained in Oklahoma and laid the groundwork for his oil and gas success. Frank seized the opportunity, and with two partners, he founded Fortuna Oil Company in 1914. Capitalized with a $40,000 loan and guided by Frank’s geologic expertise, the Company succeeded on seven of the first eight wells drilled. The Company was sold in 1918 for $6,000,000 to Magnolia Oil Company. This tremendous success by the young OU Geologist also brought about a radical change in big oil companies regarding the employment of geologists and the value of their services.

In 1920 Frank founded Buttram Petroleum Corporation, which he owned and operated until 1962. The Company was highly successful; by 1923, Buttram had extensive holdings in the Wewoka-Seminole area of Oklahoma and the Corsicana Field in Texas, and in 1924 discovered the Powell Field in East Texas. Frank also diversified into 12,638 acres of cattle ranches, including 7236 acres in Craig County, OK, and 4300 acres of citrus groves in Texas. Always the innovator, Frank was instrumental in creating a highly successful new cattle breed, Brangus, which is 5/8 Angus and 3/8 Brahman. The early success in oil and gas exploration allowed Frank Buttram to give so much of his time and finances during his career to many organizations and causes. Frank served on the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents from 1923-31 and 1937-57 and was the prime mover in raising funds for the building of Owen Field and the Student Union at the University of Oklahoma. Frank also served for many years on the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, during which he led efforts to move the Rock Island Railroad tracks that split the downtown area and the building of the Civic Center. Frank was directly involved in numerous directorships and fund-raising efforts over the years, including the YWCA, YMCA, First Christian Church, Oklahoma Symphony (founder), Oklahoma City Art Center, Liberty National Bank, First National Bank, Oklahoma Industries Foundation, Frontiers of Science, Community Fund of Oklahoma City, National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and many others.

Frank Buttram was also a founder of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) in 1929 (serving as president from 1939-43) and was a founder of the Oklahoma City Petroleum Club. In 1930 Frank ran for governor of Oklahoma and narrowly lost to “Alfalfa” Bill Murray. From 1941-43 Frank served on the Petroleum Industry War Council for National Defense, and he spearheaded the approval of a 2,000-mile oil pipeline from Texas to Philadelphia to support the war effort.

In 1940-41 Frank dealt with the notorious “Cole Bill,” which was a measure providing for federal control of the oil industry. Frank said at that time: “There are powerful forces in Washington today demanding nationalization of the oil industry. It will be a short step toward the nationalization of all industries. At that time, we will have lost the right of private ownership and individual initiative, and we will no longer have a democratic form of government.” In April of 1941, the Bill was dropped thanks to the efforts of Buttram and the IPAA.

Successful geologist, oilman, banker, rancher, philanthropist, and civic leader, the following quote sums up the way Frank Buttram lived his life: “There is no doubt in my mind whatever but that one can have a happy life only by being free of guilt and wrongdoing. I know, of course, that all of us are measured and found wanting. But I believe that if you do your best to live a good life, you get an inner peace that money won’t buy.”

It is with great honor that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation present Frank Buttram as a Pioneer Legends Award Recipient for 2012.

Samuel “Lloyd” Noble was born on November 30, 1896, to Samuel Roberts and Hattie Noble in Ardmore, Oklahoma, which was at the time still part of the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory. As a young child, Lloyd delivered goods for his father’s and uncle’s hardware store, Noble Brothers Hardware. Statehood in 1907 brought an influx of people to Carter County, and Lloyd watched and listened to the farmers and ranchers dependent upon the land to make a living. Frequently he saw them struggle, give up and move on, which made a lasting impression. The Noble Brothers Hardware extended liberal credit to their customers. They commonly accepted land in place of cash payments, which laid the foundation for acquiring mineral interests throughout the area, including some in the Hewitt Field, discovered in 1919.

At Ardmore High School, Lloyd participated in the football and debate teams. At age 17, Lloyd lived alone on the family ranch for a year, and during this time of self-examination, he realized he wanted to do more than farming or ranching. Lloyd attended Southeastern Normal College in Durant, obtained his teaching certificate, and earned $50/month for two years of teaching in a one-room classroom. He then enrolled at The University of Oklahoma in 1916, but after one year at OU, Lloyd’s father became ill, and Lloyd returned to Ardmore to help with the family business. After his father passed away in 1917, the hardware store was sold, and Lloyd joined the Navy for two years, then enrolled again at OU in 1919. Although interested in becoming a lawyer, by his own admission Lloyd “belonged to more campus organizations than the number of subjects in which I was enrolled,” including a keen interest in debate and campus politics. While attending OU, Lloyd made friends that lasted a lifetime, and he became interested in the oil business.


In 1921 Lloyd met A.O. Olson, whose rig was drilling on a farm owned by the Noble family. This meeting led to the formation of the Noble Drilling Company on April 1, 1921, with the purchase of their first rig for $13,001 (being jokingly superstitious, they flipped a coin to determine whether they paid $12,999 or $13,001). With the rapid growth of the oil industry in southern Oklahoma, Noble Drilling’s growth and success also exploded, and by 1930 Noble and Olson owned 38 rigs. Well by well, Noble Drilling built a reputation for dependability, honesty, and quality. These traits constantly reinforced by Lloyd Noble have stayed with the company and fueled its success throughout its history. In the early days of his relentless pursuit of knowledge, Lloyd spent lots of time on the drilling rigs learning everything he could about drilling and the oil business.


Lloyd Noble was committed early on to two business policies: keep men who are loyal and promote from within the company. In 1930 when Noble and Olson decided to split up and took turns choosing rigs, Noble focused on the crews he admired most and selected the rigs associated with those crews. He also offered key employees an interest in the Company, reinforcing their loyalty. Lloyd had a genuine interest in his employees and their families; in the early 1940’s he instituted one of the first profit-sharing plans in the oil industry to see that all of his employees benefitted, not just a few of the top people.


Under Lloyd’s leadership, the Company was always innovative, seizing upon the latest drilling technologies to be the most efficient and successful driller. An experience with heaving shale leading to the abandonment of a well on the Gulf Coast in 1935 led to day-work clauses in drilling contracts in case of adverse conditions such as lost circulation, saltwater flows, or heaving shales. Also, as operators started drilling deeper and deeper, Noble was one of the first drillers to negotiate day-rate contracts, thereby putting significant risk on the operators instead of the drillers. If there was any single secret to the success of Noble Drilling, Lloyd could attract and retain key people. Once hired, he expected complete loyalty and gave them his loyalty in return.


During the Depression, Noble began to buy leases and drill wells to keep his crews working, gradually acquiring substantial production. He organized several companies for the sole purpose of holding interests in wells; among them was Samedan Oil Corporation, named after his and Vivian’s three children, Sam, Ed, and Ann. While visiting his sister at OU in 1921, Lloyd met Margaret “Vivian” Bilby, whom he married in 1924 and loved dearly until her untimely death in 1936. Because of travel, the role of a father was challenging for Lloyd, but he did a great job; his most significant legacy to his children was a sense of family, values, ethics, and religion over money.


Lloyd Noble and his company Noble Drilling participated in one of the greatest but little-known events during World War II. With German U-boats preying on oil tankers to an alarming degree, Noble, in partnership with Fain-Porter Drilling Company, agreed to send four drilling rigs and crews to England in 1943 to drill wells in an existing oil field in Sherwood Forest. Despite deluges of cold rain, dim-out lighting so as not to attract attention at night, and food shortages, the American crews, were so efficient at making hole that they drilled 106 wells in one year, increasing production in the field from 700 to over 3,000 barrels per day, ultimately helping the Americans and British prevail over the Germans. As a testament to his generosity and patriotism, Lloyd made it clear from the start that he would not take any profit from work, except for Noble Drilling’s reimbursement of expenses; it was Noble’s contribution to the war effort.

Lloyd had an interest in helping others throughout his life. In 1921 at age 25, he was elected Secretary of the State Republican Committee, and at age 28 was elected to the Oklahoma State Legislature.


Lloyd was involved in numerous organizations and memberships throughout his life, including state and national oil and gas associations, church organizations, rotary club, the University of Oklahoma, and many other philanthropic boards and clubs. Lloyd became a Regent for the University of Oklahoma in 1934, served on the Board of Regents for 14 years, including being president in 1940-41, and was instrumental in hiring Bud Wilkinson as the head football coach. Lloyd Noble was named Oklahoma’s Most Outstanding Citizen in 1949 and has been recognized as one of the fifty most influential Oklahomans of the 20th century. Still, his most lasting and influential legacy was the creation in 1945 of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, named after his father “to give recognition to the most charitable individual I ever knew.” Lloyd said at the first meeting of the Board of Trustees that he established the Foundation because of “a responsibility that I feel I owe to society under whose structure the accumulation of money has been made possible.” With a primary emphasis on soil conservation and improvement, the Foundation has also supported significant work and research over the years in science, literature, education, charity, and religion, and today is recognized as the largest private foundation in the state and is in the top 50 in the U.S. in the size of its assets.


In January 1950, word came from the University of Oklahoma that Lloyd Noble was to receive the Distinguished Service Citation, the highest award the University could bestow, on April 19. Also, early that year, Lloyd had agreed to serve as chairman of the American Heart Association fundraising drive in Ardmore. On February 14, 1950, while in Houston on business, Lloyd Noble died of a heart attack at age 53.


Lloyd Noble was a great man, with his contributions to the oil and industry, the nation, the State of Oklahoma, and his hometown of Ardmore, too numerous to describe in this short biography. Lloyd Noble was one of Oklahoma’s most significant natural resources, and his legacy lives on through the Noble Corporation, Noble Energy Inc., and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.


It is with great honor that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation present Lloyd Noble as a Pioneer Legends Award Recipient for 2013.

Herbert Hiram Champlin was born on February 28, 1868, near Rockford, Illinois. The family moved to Kansas in 1872, where Herbert graduated from Hill’s Business College in Wichita in 1887. In 1889 he ran into Oklahoma and settled in Kingfisher, where he started a lumber business. In 1893 he moved into the Cherokee Strip to what was to become Enid, Oklahoma, and started a lumber business and later a hardware store.


In 1895 Herbert married Ary Delight Noble, and they had four children. Herbert served on Enid’s first school board. In 1903 he represented Garfield County in the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature; in 1906, he represented the county at the Oklahoma Territorial Constitutional Convention; and in 1940, he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention.


H. H. Champlin also helped organize Enid State Bank, which later became the First National Bank of Enid, and in 1910 he purchased a controlling interest in the bank. In 1933 Champlin’s was the only bank to remain open for the “Bank Holiday” directed by Governor “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, prompting Murray to send the State Guard to Enid to close the bank, an event reported nationwide.


In 1916 Herbert and Ary invested in a lease on George Beggs’ farm near Garber, Oklahoma, and on Christmas Day 1916, the prolific Beggs No. 1 began to flow. Within a year, there were 12 producing wells on the lease within the Garber Field, and the Champlin’s were officially in the oil business in Oklahoma.


In 1917 Herbert purchased a small refinery operation. Through growth and acquisition, Champlin Refining Company became what was, for many years, reported to be the largest privately-owned, fully-integrated oil company in the world. Its operations included exploration, production, pipelines, bulk plants, and retail service stations. In 1923 the first of many Champlin Service Stations opened in Enid. Many Midwesterners still remember the company slogan: “A Great Name on the Great Plains.”

During the depression, H.H. Champlin aided his fellow citizens in every way possible. Many businesses were kept going by his timely aid. He believed in character, and if he had confidence in a person’s integrity, there was almost no limit to which he would go in backing him. He was especially interested in people who showed a desire to help themselves.


H. H. Champlin’s family and friends recall that he loved America, especially the West. He had a fondness for western art, especially the works of Frederick Remington. He was fiercely independent and took his principles seriously. He believed in hard work, thrift and integrity. He considered one of his most significant accomplishments was to save $500 on a salary of $50 per month as a bank cashier early in his career because it gave him a foundation for later business endeavors.


On April 24, 1944, Herbert Hiram Champlin passed away in his stately Enid home at 76. Despite being very busy running his companies, Herbert was always active in his hometown, state, and country affairs. Above all else, Herbert always had time to listen to his fellow citizens and provide assistance where needed. Herbert Hiram Champlin left a great business and personal legacy in Enid and throughout Oklahoma.


It is with great honor that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation present Herbert Hiram Champlin as a Pioneer Legend Award recipient for the 2014

Wirt Franklin was born in Richmond, Missouri, in 1883 to John and Irene Hudgins Franklin. In 1889, at the age of six, Wirt got his first exposure to Washington, D.C., and the inner workings of the U.S. government when President Benjamin Harrison appointed Wirt’s father as Auditor for the War Department. In 1893 the family moved back to Illinois, where Wirt graduated from high school. In high school, Wirt played football and baseball and ran track. He also developed a love for fishing, which he carried throughout his life.

While attending law school at Columbian University (now George Washington University) in Washington D.C., Wirt worked as a stenographer for the Committee of Indian Affairs. In 1902 the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, impressed by Wirt’s work ethic and quality, convinced him to take a job with the Dawes Commission at Muskogee in Indian Territory and continue his law studies there. Starting as a stenographer, he was soon promoted to Law Clerk. At age 22 was in charge of five law clerks and 15 stenographers with the assignment of enrolling and assigning headright allotments to the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians. During this time, Wirt became entirely absorbed by the Indians, their new treaties, old broken treaties, their migrations, government, and customs. With his concentration on the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, he learned all he could think about them and made sincere and sometimes dangerous efforts to enroll the Indians so they would be allotted their full rights and a fair share of land. Wirt said, “I did this because I was interested in them and not with any idea of it having a bearing on my future with the Commission.”

In 1902 Wirt went home to Lacon, IL, to visit his high school sweetheart, Mary Collyer, and they were married in August of that year. Wirt resigned from the Dawes Commission in 1905 to focus on completing his law studies. He passed the bar exam in 1906, moved with his wife and son Chester to Ardmore, and joined S.A. Apple to form the Apple and Franklin Law Firm.

In 1908 Wirt became interested in the possibilities for oil in Southern Oklahoma and took almost all the money he had in the bank to buy a 400-acre farm near the town of Healdton for $15/acre. A water well drilled on the farm to 100’ had tar in the water, and a well drilled on an adjoining farm in 1888 had found oil at 425’. Unfortunately, the oil man from Pennsylvania named Palmer, who drilled the 1888 “discovery” well, did not have the right to produce it and, therefore, no way to market the oil; he had the right idea a quarter of a century ahead of his time. In 1913 Wirt Franklin and his partners drilled the official discovery well of the Healdton Field and formed Crystal Oil Company. The Wirt Franklin #1 struck oil at 900’, initially producing ~100 barrels of oil per day. Subsequent wells were much better, and the Healdton oil boom was on, drawing the major oil companies along with several additional independents.

Early on in the development of the Healdton Field, the Magnolia Petroleum Company was the only purchaser of crude oil, and they practiced selective purchasing from certain significant operators. The majors continued to drill wells even though the field’s production was far greater than the ability to get the oil to market, forcing the independents to drill offsets to protect their leases. The price for crude from Healdton was forced down by Magnolia from $1.03 per barrel to 30 cents per barrel. Wirt Franklin was determined to do something to protect the interests of the independent oil producers; in 1914, the Ardmore Oil Producers Association was formed with Wirt as its first president. Wirt caused the Yeager-Strain Act to be passed by the Oklahoma legislature requiring pipelines and purchasers of oil from a common field to buy oil in equal proportions from all leases. This helped keep the independents in business and was a model for other states.

Shortly after Wirt drilled the discovery well at Healdton, the Apple-Franklin Oil Company was also formed, and Wirt Franklin left his law practice to run both oil companies. In 1916 Crystal Oil Company was sold to Harry Sinclair for $2,000,000. By this time, Wirt had several other oil and gas interests and operated independently until the Wirt Franklin Petroleum Corporation was formed in 1927. In 1928 Franklin and J.I. Cromwell drilled one of the first producing wells in the Oklahoma City area, which helped pave the way for one of the most sensational oil booms in U.S. history. In addition to his continuing involvement with oil developments in southern Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City oil field, Wirt became a partner in Franklin, Aston, and Fair Inc., with oil holdings in New Mexico.

One of Wirt Franklin’s significant highlights was his unrelenting crusade on behalf of the independent oil producers, which led to the formation of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) in 1929. In June 1929, the “Conference on Oil Conservation” took place at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. The major oil companies had convinced the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of the Treasury that if the U.S. did not sharply curtail domestic oil production and replace it with imported oil from Mexico and South America (primarily Venezuela), that oil in the U.S. would be gone in 20 years. This, of course, would greatly benefit the majors as the importers of this foreign oil and would have ruined the independent producers. Wirt Franklin’s historic speech on the second day of that conference on behalf of and in protecting the rights of all independent producers resulted in the birth of the IPAA and the election of Wirt Franklin as its first president, an office he held from 1929 -1935.

Wirt Franklin’s tireless efforts on behalf of the independent oil producers won him many accolades and tremendous respect. Wirt won over President Herbert Hoover, they became friends, and in 1932 Hoover asked Wirt to run for Senate from Oklahoma. Although defeated along with Hoover’s re-election bid due to a Democratic landslide resulting from the Depression, Wirt received 31,000 more votes than President Hoover in Oklahoma. President Franklin Roosevelt was so impressed with Wirt Franklin’s oratory and grasp of the petroleum industry that in 1933 he appointed Franklin Chairman of the “Planning and Coordinating Committee of the Petroleum Administration.” Wirt met with FDR often to resolve oil production and import issues. At the beginning of WWII, President Roosevelt appointed Wirt as Director in Charge and Director of Production of the Petroleum Administration for War over 15 mid-western states.

Throughout his distinguished petroleum and public service career, Wirt Franklin remained active in civic affairs in Carter County. He was a member of the Ardmore Rotary Club, President of the Ardmore Lions Club, President of the Dornick Hills Country Club, and member of all Masonic bodies, including Scottish and York Rites. He loved spending time with friends and family at his lodge on the Rio Grande River in Masonic Park, Colorado, still being enjoyed by Wirt’s descendants today.

1959 was proclaimed “Wirt Franklin Year” by the IPAA to honor him and the other leaders of the IPAA. They dedicated their lives to the preservation of the domestic petroleum industry. In 1961 the Oklahoma Petroleum Council selected Wirt Franklin to become the first recipient of the “Outstanding Oklahoma Oil Man Award” based on his contributions to the development of the petroleum industry in Oklahoma and his contributions to his community, state, and nation. Wirt passed away in Dallas in September 1962 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Ardmore.

It is with great honor that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation present Wirt Franklin as a Pioneer Legend Award recipient for 2016.

Born in a dugout in Hope, Indian Territory, in1895, Thomas Howard McCasland, son of J.C. and Olivia McCasland, lived through some of the most exciting and progressive times the world has seen. 

In 1898 the family moved to Duncan. The children, Hugh, Howard, and Naomi, grew up in and around Duncan and were educated in the Duncan schools and at the University of Oklahoma. Howard was the first boy from Duncan to attend O.U.  He was a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity and excelled both scholastically and athletically.  Howard set long-standing football and basketball records and was a Pe-et honorary scholastic fraternity member.  Upon graduation in 1916, he won the Silver Letzeiser Medal for outstanding achievement.

After graduation, he served as Athletic Director and coach at Northern Oklahoma Junior College at Tonkawa until the start of WWI.  He then joined the Army and saw action in the Argonne as a 1st Lt. in the 2nd Corps of the 90th Artillery Division.  Upon release from the Army in 1919, although initially planning law school at O.U., he came to be intrigued with the early oilfield activity connected with the Empire Field near Duncan, and began to buy, sell, and trade land, leases, and minerals in Southern Oklahoma.

In 1926 Howard married his little sister’s friend and local school teacher, Vivian Fullwood.   Their children are Mary Frances Michaelis of Wichita, KS., and Tom H. McCasland, Jr. of Duncan, Dallas, TX.

After enjoying success in the oil and gas business, he and several associates formed Mack Oil Co. in 1946.  These men, and this company, led by Howard McCasland, developed extensive oil and gas production in Oklahoma and Kansas and later added M&M Supply Co., Thomas Drilling Co., AmQuest Financial Corp., Investors Trust Company, and other successful business enterprises. 


Always believing one should shoulder his share in developing his Community, State, Country, and chosen profession, Howard tried to be a part of anything positive in improving Duncan, Stephens County, and Oklahoma.  He served as President of the Duncan Chamber of Commerce, the Duncan Industrial Foundation, and the Duncan Rotary Club.  He chaired the first successful Duncan Community Chest drive and chaired the local Draft Board during WWII.  He was first inducted into the Duncan Sports Hall of Fame and named Duncan’s Top Senior Citizen in 1959.  Howard participated in many efforts toward improving Oklahoma, serving as a Director of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and the Oklahoma Heart Association.  He served two years on the Oklahoma Economic Development Commission and served on the Oklahoma Highway Commission. 

Howard McCasland worked tirelessly toward improving the University of Oklahoma, for which he was honored in 1959 with their Distinguished Service Citation.  He served as President of the Dad’s Day Association and OU Alumni Association and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Oklahoma Foundation.   In 1965 a new housing tower was named the “McCasland Tower” in appreciation and gratitude for his leadership and service to O.U. 

As a service to the petroleum industry, Howard served as a Director of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and a Director and Area Vice-President of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.  His service to the oil industry culminated in 1972 when he was named Outstanding Oilman of the Year by the Oklahoma Petroleum Council.

In the 1960s, Howard formed the McCasland Foundation, through which he conducted widespread philanthropy.  The McCasland Foundation continues today as an essential underwriter of Duncan’s non-profit activities, Oklahoma education and medical needs, and Oklahoma libraries, arts, and social and Christian institutions.  In 1975 he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, an honor climaxing a lifetime of public service and philanthropy. 

Howard McCasland died in 1979.

“With a rip and a roar, and a kick and a cough, the Wilcox sand was paying off….. and those who stood by, understood why oil men are all brotherhood”. This excerpt from Clyde Becker’s ballad of “The Ramblin’ Rock Hound” is testimony to the humor of this Oklahoma oil pioneer, known and admired for his technical expertise and personal integrity.

Clyde McKee Becker was born in 1882 in Arlington, Iowa. In his youth he was a renowned wrestler, wrestling as a headliner in featured bouts in Minnesota and Iowa. He also learned to play the violin, which he played throughout his life. Around 1907 the family homesteaded to Oklahoma. Clyde received his BS degree from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1912. While at OBU he met his wife, Bessie Gray.

Clyde’s first job out of college took them to Colorado, where he worked as a mining engineer with the Seabird Gold Mining Company. With the collapse of the mining industry in Colorado in 1913, Clyde and Bessie took their $400 in savings and bought a tent, stove, mattress and rocking chair and moved to the Florida Mountains in New Mexico, living on the flank of a mountain where Clyde prospected and consulted for area mining companies. After spending his early career in the mining industry in Colorado and New Mexico, he served his country during World War I, where he served as director of a YMCA camp for Army trainees prior to his reaching the rank of first lieutenant with the Army engineers.

In 1919 Clyde entered the oil and gas industry, initially doing geological work for the H. H. Simmons Company in southeast Kansas. In 1921 the Becker-Reed Oil & Gas Company was formed with Clyde as president. After successfully discovering several small fields in Kansas, the Company focused its activities in southwestern Oklahoma and in 1924 Clyde moved his family to Chickasha, Oklahoma. During this time, he mapped a large portion of the southern Anadarko Basin with plane table and alidade, using geology students from OU as field assistants. This work led Becker to the discovery of several new fields in Oklahoma. One of these was the significant discovery of the Carter-Knox field, known as “Becker’s Folly” prior to its discovery by Becker-Reed.

In 1932 Becker served for a brief period as deputy proration umpire with the Oklahoma State Conservation Department. He then returned to the mining industry, where he was instrumental in the opening of the Portland Gold Mine in Arizona. Becker served widely as a consulting geologist both in mining and oil and gas in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. During this time, he did consulting work for Mandeville and Thompson in Oklahoma, also working with John Nichols and was associated with Ray Stevens in the extension of the Cement field in Caddo County, Oklahoma.

Although his profession kept him away from home a lot, Clyde still found time to take an active part in the social and civic activities of his community in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He served on the local board of education and was an active member of the Methodist Church. Becker became a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in 1921 and was also a member of The American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers.

Clyde Becker’s technical expertise, likeable personality, and unwavering honesty led to countless friendships throughout the southwest United States. Clyde also had a keen interest in the younger members of the geological profession, many of whom benefitted from his wise counsel and guidance.

Clyde M. Becker passed away in 1938 at age 55. His great love of Geology was passed to his descendants; his six sons all obtained a geology degree from the University of Oklahoma, and six of his grandchildren and three great-grandchildren earned geoscience degrees. Bessie Becker went on to live a full life, passing away in 1976 at age 88. The Becker home in Chickasha was donated to the Girl Scouts and served as headquarters for the Sooner Council for many years.

Clyde M. Becker was indeed one of the pioneers of the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Geological Foundation is pleased to present Clyde M. Becker as a Pioneer Legend.

Thomas N. Berry was born in Napoleon, Missouri, in 1872 to frontiersman and cattleman William Edward Berry and his wife, Marth Malinda Brown. A profoundly religious man, T.N. Berry met his future wife Harriet Patton at a church camp meeting. Knowing Tom was a “rich man’s” son, Harriet could not help but notice the patch on his shoe. For her, the patch was a sign of humility and frugality, two qualities she found attractive and worthy of getting to know him. The couple married on May 14, 1899 and were faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Tom was too young to file a claim in the Oklahoma Territory Land Run of 1889, so in 1890, his father, William E. Berry bequeathed to his son a farm overlooking the Cimarron River near the town of Ripley. Tom built a dugout home there and started to farm. If his crops or livestock made a profit, and he saw land for sale at a reasonable price, he bought it. These purchases laid the groundwork for Tom’s future participation in the oil industry. Later in 1893 and being of age, Thomas Nelson Berry, a Payne County pioneer farmer, future banker, philanthropist, and oilman, participated in the fourth land run of the Oklahoma Territory to acquire property in the Cherokee Outlet.

In 1912, when the famous “wildcatter” Tom Slick’s discovery well, the Wheeler #1, came in near Drumright, Oklahoma, the news could not have been better for Tom as he owned land in the prolific Cushing-Drumright oil field. He either leased his mineral rights to others or participated in the drilling and production of the wells in the area.

For over 20 years, Tom was a Director of the Stillwater National Bank, which also participated in the drilling of many well adventures. He was also a member of the First National Bank of Cushing’s Board of Directors. During his incredible life, he gifted many properties, including land for the Stillwater Medical Center and the first building of the Stillwater branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In 1927, Tom and his wife Harriet built the “Berry Mansion” on over 200 acres of elevated land four miles southeast of Stillwater for the potential of oil and gas production. Six producing wells were ultimately drilled on the property, with the last one plugged only recently.

When Tom’s health began to deteriorate in 1937, he established and incorporated the Thomas N. Berry & Company, for which he served as President until 1942. His wife, Harriet Virginia Patton, served as Treasurer of the company.

With his brother-in-law, E.C. Mullendore of Cleveland, Pawnee County, Oklahoma, he formed the Mul-Berry Oil Company, for which he served as President. Tom was a major stockholder and member of the Board of Directors of the Blackwell Oil & Gas Company, and he served fifteen years on the Board of the Cushing Refinery. A master at sharing his passion, his eight offspring had oil running through their veins and the knowledge to carry the business forward. Each of the children was a notable oilman or woman during their lifetime.

Thomas N. Berry & Company continues with descendant Directors representing the posterity of the eight siblings. Today the company continues to participate in new wells and manage its significant mineral holdings.

Thomas Nelson Berry passed away on January 4, 1946. According to his obituary, “Despite Tom’s many interests and prominence in oil and banking, his greatest pride came from his self-conferred title of ‘Farmer Tom Berry’. He invariably introduced himself as such whenever a stranger asked his occupation”.

Thomas Baker Slick

Pioneer Legend  (1883-1930)

Tom Slick was destined to be an oilman. Tom Slick was born in 1883 in Shippenville, Pennsylvania, only 25 miles from Colonel Drake’s discovery well at Titusville. His father was a contract driller in the Pennsylvania oil fields. In 1903 at age 19 he followed the oil industry west with his father and brother. In 1904 Tom moved to Lincoln County, Oklahoma, to work obtaining leases for drilling rights from landowners. During the period from 1907-1911 the young oilman drilled several dry holes. Then, in March 2012, Tom Slick discovered one of the most productive fields in the United States at that time with the Wheeler #1 in Creek County, OK. By 1919 the Cushing Field accounted for 17% of all the crude marketed in the United States. This success marked a huge turning point in Slick’s life, going from “Dry Hole Slick” to “King of the Wildcatters” and beginning an incredible 18-year span of tremendous accomplishments.

In 1915 Tom married Berenice Frates. During the period from 1915-1920, with his father-in-law Joseph Frates, Tom embarked on new ventures: railroads, establishing new towns, and operating plantations in Mississippi. In March of 1920 the town of Slick, Oklahoma, officially opened. During this same timeframe all three of Tom and Berenice Slick’s children were born: Thomas Jr. in 1916, Betty in 1917, and Earl in 1920.

Tom Slick aggressively re-entered the oil business in late 1919/early 1920 in Oklahoma and expanded his operations into Kansas and Texas. He played an important role in the discovery and development of many fields throughout the 1920s. By 1929 Slick was regarded as the largest independent oil operator in the nation. Ironically, the largest well that Tom Slick ever drilled came in at 43,200 barrels per day in the Oklahoma City Field just one week after his death in August 1930.

Thomas Baker Slick was the epitome of an independent oil man; he had no stockholders, no big staff, he made his own decisions, and he engaged almost solely in exploration, drilling and production. He earned a reputation as an honest, decisive, and shrewd businessman. Many people, from lessors to employees to friends and family and communities, benefitted financially from his business enterprises. Also significant was the role he played late in his career in the conservation movement; he strongly advocated the use of unitization and proper well spacing as a means of efficiently and profitably producing oil.

Tom Slick possessed three main characteristics: (1) he had great pride in his reputation, (2) he had a deep devotion to family and friends, and (3) he was a driven man in terms of his work. During the summer of 1930, Tom had assembled one of the largest oil operations in the Oklahoma City Field with forty-five wells being drilled and the capacity of 200,000 barrels of daily production. However, the frantic pace during this period drained his health and he died on August 16 of a stroke at the age of 46, abruptly ending a career that had helped supply an energy hungry nation with the petroleum it needed to grow. From 2:30-3:30pm on August 18, 1930, oil derricks throughout the Oklahoma City Field stood silent, a tribute from the employees, friends and community commemorating the end of a colorful career that had spanned a quarter century from the early days of the Oklahoma oil industry to the Oklahoma City boom. In 1988 at the Marland Mansion in Ponca City, Thomas Baker Slick was posthumously inducted into the Petroleum Hall of Fame.


Historical Legends

Frederick H. “Fritz” Kate was an independent geologist for most of his career, generating prospects and owning two drilling rigs for a short time.  Fritz was involved in almost every phase of the Oklahoma City Geological Society, from serving as President to chairing every conceivable committee the Society had in operation.  A firm believer in education, he and his wife, Tim, contributed the capital to commence the Oklahoma City Geological Foundation, and the Kate Endowment was the Foundation’s first program.  Fritz was an honorary member of the OCGS and was presented the Foundation’s Legends Award posthumously in 2007.

John W. Nichols was a distinguished leader in the oil and gas industry and founded Devon Energy Corporation in 1971.  


He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the University of Oklahoma in 1936.  After college, he practiced as a Certified Public Accountant and entered the oil and gas business.  He joined F. G. Blackwood, John Fisher, and William Hilseweck to found Blackwood & Nichols Co., Ltd. in 1946.  In 1950, he made history by registering the nation’s first public oil and gas drilling fund with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 


In 1971, he had the vision to create a new oil and gas company, Devon Energy Corporation, that would use European financing to acquire properties in the United States.  John’s role in the history of the oil and gas industry was recognized by the Oil and Gas Investor when he was named one of the “100 Most Influential People of the Petroleum Industry in the Twentieth Century.”


He was a leader in many civic and charitable organizations and was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1987.   He was one of the 50 founders of the Oklahoma City Petroleum Club and a founding member of the Economics Club, where he also served as President.  He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oklahoma in 2002 and was the University’s inaugural recipient of its Oklahoma Trailblazer Award.  He and his wife Mary were founding members of the Bizzell Library Society of the University of Oklahoma.  They established the John and Mary Nichols Rare Books Collection in the Bizzell Library. 


He served as a trustee of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, the University of the Ozarks, the OU Price College of Business, and Cassady School.  He provided scholarships to OU, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Randolph-Macon, University of the Ozarks, the Oklahoma Heritage Association, and others for years.  Because of his guidance, encouragement, and vision, he was a mentor to many.  


John Nichols was presented the Foundation’s Legends Award posthumously in 2008.

Suzanne Takken, an only child, was born on April 25, 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio.  She graduated from the Rocky River High School in 1943 and enrolled in her father’s Alma Mater, the University of Michigan.


In the summer between school years, she worked in war plants packing parts in Cosmoline.  She worked in the school cafeteria to help support herself during college.  After only two days, she decided that was not her kind of work, and she applied for another job.  Suzanne was assigned to assist Professor George V. Cohee in his work with rock samples, a significant change that led to her life-long career in geology.


Her father died in 1947, just one week before her graduation from the University of Michigan.  Suzanne had been offered a job in Midland or Oklahoma City with Magnolia Oil Company (later Mobil Oil).   After consulting with her mother, Clara Elrich Takken, a powerful woman in her own right, they decided to leave Cleveland and make a new start in Oklahoma City.  She retired from Mobil Oil in 1970 but continued working as a consulting geologist until her death.  Suzanne was on her way home to Oklahoma City from California when a massive visceral hemorrhage struck her in Santa Rosa, California, and she died on November 9, 1997.  She had just spent two weeks at her vacation home in Sea Ranch, California, following her attendance at the Association for Women Geoscientists in Salt Lake City.


Suzanne was active in professional organizations throughout her career.  She joined AAPG in 1947 and had completed her fiftieth year as a member.  She joined the Oklahoma Geological Society in the same year and was awarded Honorary Lifetime Membership in 1982.  She served the Society in many positions, including President and Editor of the Shale Shaker.  She was a charter member of the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) and served as President of the Oklahoma Section of the AIPG in 1971 and national secretary-treasurer in 1978.  Suzanne was especially active in the Association for Women Geologists.  Suzanne served as President of the AWG from 1989-1990 and completed a two-year term as director of the AWG Foundation.  She was honored at the meeting by naming the Suzanne Takken Encourage Award in recognition of her work as a role model and mentor for young women geoscientists.  Suzanne published several papers on the petroleum geology of Oklahoma.


Suzanne was a multifaceted individual.  She and her mother were active in amateur theatre in Oklahoma City for many years.  She dabbled at oil painting and even made jewelry.  She was a leader in the “Great Books” discussion group, played golf, and started writing a novel.  Her conversations at lunch would vary from oil prospects to national energy policy to philosophical jaunts into education, lifestyles, and religion.  She loved to travel, especially in her later years, with the Orient and the Pacific Ocean being her favorite destinations.   Suzanne’s ashes were spread in her favorite ocean, the Pacific.


The Foundation is honored to recognize the memory of Suzanne with its 2009 Legends Award.

Charles Ernest Branham was born on February 24, 1929, in Oklahoma City.  He was the son of Dr. and Mrs. Donald W. Branham and spent most of his life in Oklahoma City.   He graduated from Classen High School and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he was a member of the K. A. Fraternity.  He spent two years at the University of New Mexico when he discovered his love and fascination for geology.  Charles returned and graduated from Oklahoma City University with a Bachelor’s degree in Geology.   His first employment was with Ashland Oil and later with Huffman and Malloy, Amerada, Calvert Exploration, and H. Huffman and Company, where he stayed for the remainder of his life.


Charles was an excellent geologist with a passion for exotic challenges.  He was an Honorary Life Member and past Oklahoma City Geological Society President.  Under his presidency, he helped establish the Oklahoma City Geological Society Library.  That was a very proud moment in his life. 

He was an Honorary Charter Member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.  For fifty years, a member emeritus of the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) and a member of the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists (SIPES).   His professional colleagues will remember him as a dedicated and well-rounded geologist proficient in many disciplines, ranging from coalbed methane to oil and gas exploration.   His friends will remember him as a humorous character, a fun-loving person wholly dedicated to his family and friends. 

Charles died on February 4, 2009.

Samuel Russell Noble, Ardmore oilman, philanthropist, rancher, and civic leader, left a legacy that continues to impact and affect countless people from many walks of life. A humble man who avoided the limelight, Sam worked tirelessly for the betterment of his fellow man in so many ways.


Sam, born in August 1925, was the oldest son of Lloyd and Vivian Bilby Noble.  He attended high school at St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin graduating in 1943, and served in the U.S. Navy. He attended the University of Oklahoma, where he met the love of his life and married Mary Jane Curtis in May 1946.  Sam & Mary Jane had four children, Lloyd II, Nick, Rusty, and Shelley.


Lloyd, his father, had started Noble Drilling in 1921 and Samedan Oil Corporation in 1932, named in tribute to his three children, Sam, Ed, and Ann. In 1945, Lloyd formed the Noble Foundation, to which the bulk of his estate, including the Noble Drilling and Samedan stock, would be left to perpetuate the Foundation upon his death.  In February 1950, when Sam was just 24 years old, tragedy struck the family when Lloyd suffered a heart attack and died unexpectedly. Sam was barely out of school, earning his BS in Accounting at the University of Oklahoma in 1947, an MBA at Dartmouth College Amos Tuck School of Business in 1949, and married for only four years. Sam then stepped into the crusty world of wildcatters and oil. With the support of his brother Ed and sister Ann, he accepted the responsibility as leader of the family enterprises. In addition to the oil companies’ responsibilities, he would direct the personal family cattle and ranching business and began his lifelong commitment with his siblings to research and philanthropy endeavors as a Trustee of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, named for Sam’s grandfather. 


Aided by the trustworthy managers of Samedan and Noble Drilling, Sam began a journey that would significantly impact the oil and gas business and achieved incredible success in his undertakings. Few 24-year-olds have the life experience and knowledge to manage such enterprises. Still, part of the legacy left by Sam’s father, Lloyd, was the belief that everyone has a responsibility to make their way. Sam set out to do just that and did it with incredible success. Over time under Sam’s direction, Samedan, Noble Drilling, and the acquired B. F. Walker Trucking Company continued to grow and excel in their respective ventures across the world. In 1969, the companies became subsidiaries of the newly formed parent company Noble Affiliates, Inc.  In 1972, under Sam’s leadership, the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange.  In 1986, Noble Drilling separated from Noble Affiliates in a spin-off, becoming a publicly traded NYSE company.  The focus of Noble Drilling became international in scope as it concentrated its efforts and success on offshore drilling. In 1982 as a tribute to Sam for his leadership, Noble Drilling named an offshore drilling rig in his honor, the Sam Noble, which is still in use today. Noble Affiliates eventually divested its ownership of B. F. Walker Trucking Company. Noble Affiliates and its lone subsidiary Samedan Oil was renamed Noble Energy and continue as a sizable and successful international oil and gas exploration company.  Under Sam’s leadership as President and Chairman of the board, both became multi-billion dollar companies.


His many contributions to the oil and gas industry were recognized in 1983 when the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association presented him with the Outstanding Oklahoma Oil Man Award. Sam served on the Board of Directors of the National Petroleum Council and was a member of the All American Wildcatters, Independent Petroleum Association of America, and enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow oil and gas professionals at the events of the Southern Oklahoma Association of Petroleum Landmen.  Sam was driven by the challenge and excitement of exploring oil and gas, as was evident when he said, “The first thing when I get to Heaven is to ask God to see the Morrow map.”


In addition to his exploration efforts with Samedan and Noble Affiliates, Inc., he helped several independent geologists fulfill their potential by personally investing in their efforts to start their own exploration companies. Sam also continued long-standing relationships with geologists as he sought geological counsel on drilling opportunities for his investments. He understood the drilling risks and expected the geologist to be highly knowledgeable about the area. Although not a degreed geologist, he had educated himself in exploration, log interpretation and knew which questions to ask before pursuing a drilling prospect. Full disclosure of the drilling idea and proper preparation was always expected. Sam tried to encourage the geologists not to be critical of the results if success was not readily obtained.  He wanted geologists to be creative in exploration, not deterred by fear of undue criticism for drilling a dry hole.  Also, throughout the years, Sam managed the family’s oil and gas properties owned by SEA Properties, Ltd.


Sam promoted an overall culture of caring for the people and employees of his companies. The Noble entities led by Sam were a family, and Sam knew that inspired, dedicated individuals would be focused on the goals and success of the companies.  Honesty, integrity, respect, and loyalty were values Sam lived in his business and personal life.  He walked the talk. His principles of integrity were the driving force, not the financial gain that could be derived by less than honorable means. Under his leadership, the Noble companies had the vision that the high road would always be taken at the expense of short-term financial gain. This philosophy and culture continue today, showing that financial success and integrity could go hand in hand.


His leadership style was one of inclusiveness. In difficult decisions, Sam was very deliberate. Whether in business or personal decisions, he sought out many opinions from a diverse group of friends, associates, and employees. After weighing the facts, he then made up his mind. After that, he was unchangeable and very persistent. This ‘sureness’ of Sam’s instilled confidence in all who had to implement and execute the task at hand.  Expectations were high, but he trusted the people that would lead to success. Sam never wanted to overstaff but relied on the personnel he trusted and who was now a part of the Noble “family.”


As a Trustee of the Noble Foundation, he led the organization in bio-medical and agricultural research and philanthropic giving. Many people’s lives have been enriched due to the vision and generosity of the Foundation and the Noble family.  This organization is all about improving people’s lives in many facets.  Contributions to research and philanthropic grants from the Noble Foundation have touched many institutions and people.  A grant has been awarded with the stipulation that the Noble name is attached. Instead, recognition to the Nobles was given by the recipient, not through demand or stipulation attached to the giving.  With any recognition bestowed on him, Sam credited his success or generosity to others, his family, friends, and employees for making such generosity possible. However, he was undoubtedly a leading force in their stewardship. His family philanthropic efforts continued in other areas as he also served as a director for the Vivian Bilby Noble Foundation.  


Education for others was a big priority in Sam’s life, as reflected by his continued service and legacy in this arena.  He gave his time and energy to his Alma Maters by serving as Trustee of St. John’s Military Academy and the Board of Overseers of Dartmouth College Amos Tuck School of Business.  His love for the University of Oklahoma was exemplified as he served the University in many capacities, most notably being a member and Chairman of the Board of Regents during some challenging times. He also participated as a member of OU Academy of University Fellows, University of Oklahoma Associates, University of Oklahoma Foundation, the Advisory Board for the College of Business, and as an Honorary member of Beta Gamma Sigma. The University recognized his commitment and dedication by presenting Sam with the University of Oklahoma Distinguished Service Citation in 1982. Posthumously in 2000, the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History was constructed and named in his honor to house the priceless collection of historical artifacts at the University.  To continue Sam’s vision for further education of others, the Noble Foundation established the Sam Noble Agriculture and Technology Scholarships for students wanting to pursue a degree in agriculture.  He also encouraged many to obtain advanced degrees to further their education and knowledge in their respective fields.


Sam was recognized in 1974 for his numerous contributions to our great state as he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Two Oklahoma Governors appointed him as an Oklahoma Economic Development Agency member. He also served on the Oklahoma Industrial Development and Parks Commission and as a director for Oklahoma Heritage Association. The state of Oklahoma and the lives of its people have been enriched because of Sam Noble and continue to be through his legacy.


In southern Oklahoma, he continued his service to the area’s youth for decades by serving on the Executive Board of Directors of the Arbuckle Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and Trustee of the Goddard Youth Foundation. He wanted to support these to impact all of us as these young people become future leaders.  His commitment to young people continued through the years as he also served as a Director on the boards of the Ardmore YMCA, the Ardmore YWCA, the Ardmore Public Schools, and the Board of Advisors of Carter County Guidance Clinic. He also served the community as a director of the Ardmore Industrial Corp and the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce. He was recognized in several ways for his service in southern Oklahoma by receiving the “Man of the Year” by the Ardmore Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) in 1960 and the naming of the Sam Noble Great Hall of History in the Carter County Historical Museum in 1992.  The City of Ardmore commended Sam for his unselfish service to the community by naming the Sam Noble Parkway and also declared Sam Noble Day on March 17, 1992, in Ardmore.


Sam loved ranching and oversaw the management of the family ranches, including SEA Cattle Company, as President and Chairman with ranches in Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, and Australia. He and Mary Jane built a beautiful home and lived on a ranch of their own for many of their later years.  His love for ranching and western heritage was also shown by his service as President of the board of directors of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. In 1996, Sam was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame of Great Westerners by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. The Museum also recognized Sam when the Special Event Center was named in his honor.  


Conscious that quality of life is closely associated with one’s health, he was a consistent and active supporter of medical research and health organizations whose efforts were focused on bringing the latest technology and the most skilled practitioners together. He continued to make a difference in the lives of others as he served on the Board of Trustees of Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, the Board of Trustees of Scott and White Clinic, Temple, TX, and the Southern Oklahoma Memorial Hospital in Ardmore.  His interest in helping others with alcohol and drug abuse was manifested in his serving on the Board of Trustees of Father Martin’s Ashley at Havre de Grace, Maryland.  


In the banking world, he served on the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma City Branch of Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank and as a board member of Exchange National Bank, First Southwest Corp, and the Lincoln National Bank, all in Ardmore. 


He enjoyed spending time with close friends, family, and especially his grandchildren. He was an avid bird hunter and enjoyed fishing on the stream near his cabin in Colorado.  He and Mary Jane attended St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church in Ardmore, where he served as a Vestryman and was involved with the Bishop’s Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma. 


Sam could speak to people from all walks of life. He has been described as living by the creed of “To determine the character of a man, one needs to observe his treatment of those who cannot advance his cause” This was so true of Sam. Whether on a drilling rig with roughnecks, the cowboys working cattle, in the boardroom, or dealing with Wall Street, he treated folks with the same respect.  Sam genuinely loved and respected people regardless of job, fame, or fortune, and, of course, people recognized this and responded accordingly. Being unselfish and accessible, Sam’s counsel was sought by many.  Although he had numerous leadership positions, titles were unimportant, as he did not need a title to accomplish his visions.


He has been described as “a giant in the corporate world but a cowboy at heart.” He most likely will be remembered as “Sam Noble, a humble man who served his fellow man”    Sam would never think of himself as a “Legend” as this award is presented.  He was a humble man and preferred to stay out of the limelight. Recognizing his service and accomplishments, he always acknowledged those who had contributed to his endeavors. 


As he began to fight cancer that would ultimately take his life in 1992, he prepared the leadership of his business endeavors to continue without him.  Toward the end of his life, he enjoyed just the private time with his family, who were the focus of Sam’s life. He loved his wonderful wife, Mary Jane, who had been so supportive for many years, his three sons, Lloyd, Nick, Rusty, and daughter Shelley. He also treasured the time he could spend with his loving grandchildren. He continued a close relationship with his sister Ann, her husband, David Brown, and brother, Ed, until his passing.


Sam gave much to his fellow man during his lifetime. Today, the legacy of Sam Noble continues through the people he mentored, led, and loved.   


It is with great honor that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation present Sam Noble as a Historical Legend Award recipient for 2013.

Herbert H. “Bud” Champlin, son of Joe Noble and Jane Edwards Champlin and grandson of Herbert Hiram and Ary Noble Champlin, was born in 1937 in Enid, Oklahoma. Before joining the family business, Bud graduated from Enid High School in 1955 and MIT in 1959 with a BS degree in Industrial Management. Bud married Jo Ann “Jodi” Champlin in 1958, raising four children: Hiram, Joel, Jane, and Alec. Bud was president of Champlin Exploration in Enid for 47 years. He was also founded in 1968 and operated Enid Data Systems long before most people knew about computers. He was on the board of directors of Oklahoma Gas and Electric for 26 years.


Bud continued the philanthropic legacy of the Champlin family. He was a trustee of Phillips University, a trustee of the Enid Community Foundation, trustee of the Champlin Foundation, a trustee on the Advisory Board of Bass Hospital, president of the Enid Chamber of Commerce, president and campaign chair of Enid’s local United Way, former deacon and elder of First Presbyterian Church of Enid, and a director of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.


Bud was an avid golfer who shot 77 two months before his passing. He was a voracious reader, and there was hardly a book or topic which escaped his study.  He was also an accomplished pilot who loved to fly.

Bud successfully ran Champlin for many years, positively impacting our profession and industry. He was remembered by almost everyone he met as one of the most excellent guys they ever knew. He made himself available and was always willing to listen and benefit from his vast knowledge. Bud was always one of the first to step up to help a worthy cause and never asked for acknowledgment or recognition. He helped many worthwhile projects and positively touched many lives.


It is with great pleasure that the Oklahoma Geological Foundation honors Hiram H. “Bud” Champlin as a Historical Legend for 2014.

Bob Hancock was born in Frankfort, Michigan, in 1909 to Frank and Nell Hancock. After spending his early childhood in Frankfort, the family moved to Yale, Oklahoma, when Bob was nine. His father and two uncles, who owned gas stations in Minneapolis, had purchased the Yale Refinery and Frank moved there to operate the business. The Yale Refinery was built in 1916 at $30,000 with an initial capacity of 1,000 barrels of crude oil daily. The brothers sold the refinery to Texaco in the 1930s mainly for Texaco stock, which provided much of the seed capital that eventually fueled the growth of the Yale Oil Association, Inc.


Bob attended Kemper Military Academy and the University of Chicago, where he received his B.S. in Geology in 1930. Bob’s interest in Geology was fueled by his desire to be an explorer growing up during early Oklahoma oil exploration. He did graduate work at Stanford University before starting his career in 1932 in Bartlesville as a Geologist with the Indian Territory Illuminating Oil Company. While at Stanford, Bob met his long-time friend Jerome Westheimer of Ardmore, OK.


In 1937 Bob joined the Magnolia Petroleum Company in Oklahoma City as a Geologist and worked there until joining the U. S. Army during World War II. He was stationed in Portland, Oregon, as the Senior Ordinance Officer and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before being honorably discharged in 1946. Bob left Magnolia in 1947 and served as President of the Yale Oil Association, Inc. until he died in 1991.


Yale Oil Association had a long and successful run under the guidance of Bob Hancock. His geological expertise and acute knowledge of the oil and gas industry helped Bob identify prospective areas in Oklahoma, where he acquired interests ahead of the drill bit. In many areas of western Oklahoma, Bob was an early identifier of the Hunton formation potential before it was discovered, and he identified the future potential of infill drilling.


Bob Hancock was also very active in promoting and contributing to his profession as a long-time member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the American Institute of Professional Geologists, and the Oklahoma City Geological Society. Through his efforts as Chairman of the “Professional Standards Committee” of the Oklahoma City Geological Society, Bob made an outstanding contribution to the Society and placed Oklahoma geologists at the forefront of professionalism among the nation’s geologists. For his longtime membership and service, Bob was inducted as an Honorary Life Member of the Oklahoma Geological Society in 1978.


In addition to geology, Bob’s passions included fishing, golf, cooking, and forever being an outstanding and active alumnus of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Bob and his wife Nita spent many beautiful summers with family at their Crystal Lake, Michigan home. He pursued many hobbies and contributed his time and resources to the Michigan Watershed Association and the local hospital in his original hometown Frankfort.


Bob and Nita are survived by two daughters, Chelin Satherlie of Oklahoma City and Rey Winsky of Houston, along with numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Bob’s legacy also lives on through Yale Oil Association, Inc., an ongoing oil and gas company with grandson Kit Greene as President.


Bob Hancock had a very successful career and touched many lives along the way; and he made outstanding contributions to the science of Geology and greatly enhanced the geological profession.

It is with great honor that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation present Bob Hancock as a Historical Legend Award recipient for 2015.

Jerome Max Westheimer, Sr. was born in Marietta, Oklahoma, in 1910 to Simon and Rose Munzesheimer Westheimer. Simon had followed in his brother Max Westheimer and the Daube family’s footsteps in immigrating to Oklahoma from Germany. Simon originally opened a general store in Marietta, then moved the family to Ardmore when Jerome was ten.

Growing up in Ardmore, Jerome was active in sports, playing football, basketball, track, baseball, and tennis. In later years Jerome was an avid golfer, and a pretty good one at that, having won the club championship at Dornick Hills Golf Course in 1941. George Dorsey, Chief Geologist for the Magnolia Petroleum Company and a family friend, initially sparked Jerome’s interest in geology. Jerome graduated from Stanford University summa cum laude in geology in 1932. Jerome worked for Waco Turner and Simpson-Fell Oil Company before joining Lloyd Noble, Chief Geologist for Samedan Oil Corporation, for many years. He left Samedan in 1951, shortly after Lloyd Noble’s death, to become an independent geologist, working until his death.

During World War II, while employed by Lloyd Noble, Jerome was instrumental in discovering many critical oil reserves. It is a testament to what Lloyd Noble thought of Jerome Westheimer when Lloyd asked Jerome to be one of the first trustees and the first President of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, as well as naming Jerome as an executor of his will.

In addition to a very successful career with Samedan and as an independent geologist, Jerome was on the Board of Directors of the Hewitt Mineral Corporation of Ardmore from 1940 until his death. In 2003 Jerome received an award for his 70 years of active membership in the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. In 1965 the Oklahoma Geological Survey published Circular 63, a classic, which included “The Petroleum Geology of Love County” by Jerome M. Westheimer.

A trip to Taos, New Mexico, initially sparked Jerome’s interest in art. He became an avid art lover and collector, eventually receiving many accolades and awards for his time and assets to the arts in Oklahoma. He was a founding trustee for the Charles B. Goddard Center, a member, and friend of the Oklahoma Arts Center, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and the University of Oklahoma Fred Jones Fine Arts Center. He was a former president of the Oklahoma Arts Institute. Jerome’s efforts and commitment to the arts in Oklahoma over many decades impacted Oklahoma’s cultural growth in myriad ways. His expertise in the arts was shared and relied upon when he served on the Arts and Humanities Council under Governors David Hall and Dewey Bartlett. He was instrumental in founding and organizing the States Art Collection, recognizing artists with roots in Oklahoma. Westheimer received many awards, including the Governor’s Art Award in 1982, the Oklahoma City Mayor’s Award for Business and Art, the Mid-America Arts Alliance Award in 1995, and the Governor’s State of Excellence in 1990.

Jerome Westheimer married Ellen Louise Woods in 1936, who preceded him in death. They had three children: son Jerome Max “Bruzzy” Westheimer, Jr. (living in Ardmore with wife Gloria), and daughters Beverly Wellnitz and Valerie Westheimer, both deceased. Jerome also has a grandson, Chris O’Donnell of Ardmore, and four step-children from his second marriage to Wanda Otey.

Jerome Max Westheimer, Sr.’s legacy lives on through the generosity of the Jerome Westheimer Family Foundation, currently run by son Bruzzy Westheimer, President, and CEO. The Foundation continues to provide significant financial support to more than 200 cultural, educational, and youth organizations around the State, focusing on the Ardmore area. Jerome Max Westheimer, Sr. was a humble, private man who made a tremendous positive impact on the Geology profession in the State of Oklahoma, and he transferred his success as an oil-finder to give back of his time and resources to his profession and the arts in Oklahoma.

It is with great honor that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation present Jerome Max Westheimer, Sr. as a Historical Legend Award recipient for 2015.



Robert W. Waring was born June 9, 1929, in Bloomington, Nebraska, to Laurence and Jessie (Dunn) Waring. After moving several times as a child, he attended grade school in St. Louis, Missouri, where his father was an insurance agency manager. After being transferred to Oklahoma City with the family, Bob graduated from Classen High School and subsequently attended Oklahoma City University. He furthered his studies at the University of Oklahoma, earning a degree in Geology in 1951.

Shortly after that, he enlisted in the Army. After completing Officer’s Candidate School at Ft. Sill’s Artillery School, Bob was deployed and stationed in Korea, where he served with the Army’s 25th Infantry Division.

Upon returning home, he became employed by the British American Oil Co. while serving eight years in the Army Reserves and retiring with the rank of Major. In 1955, he married JoAnn Bruton from Norman, Oklahoma. Together, they enjoyed many years of travel, including trips worldwide and annual fishing trips to Alaska.


In November 1963, while employed at British American, Bob published an article entitled, “Well Sitting Techniques.” This in-depth publication covered all aspects of wellsite geological evaluations of sample and core examinations. This paper sets the standards for the proper techniques for future wellsite geologists to aid in the decision to run casing and for further testing of a well.


Bob became an Independent Geologist in 1964 and served as President of Equitable Royalty Corporation for 39 years. He was a member of the Oklahoma City and Ardmore Geological Societies, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists. Bob was a member of the Masonic Lodge, American Legion, Elks Lodge, the Sportsman Club, and St. Luke’s United Methodist Church for 56 years.


Bob was predeceased by his son, Joseph, in 1993 and his wife, JoAnn, in 2003. He is survived by his daughter, Janice Waring Maloney, and husband, Mike of Golden, Colorado, and his son Daniel Waring and wife, Susie of Oklahoma City. He is also survived by his grandchildren Jill Waring and Matthew Slanovich, step-grandchildren Kyle, Austin and Taylor Swabb, Jennifer Wyman, Kerry, Lauren, and Caitlyn Maloney. Bob is also survived by his dear friend Rita Moore.


Robert W. Waring passed away on June 9, 2014. He will always be remembered as a generous, kind, and loving man. Bob had a quick wit and a joke for every occasion. His legacy will live on through all the lives he touched, and his many friends will miss him


It is with great honor that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation present Robert W. Waring as a Historical Legend Award recipient for 2015.

Herndon Map Service was started by brothers Royce G. Herndon and J. L. Herndon in 1949. Royce worked as a chief oil and gas draftsman for Shell Oil Company in Oklahoma City and Tulsa in the 1930s and 1940s. J. L. worked for Carter Oil as assistant manager of the reproduction department.

Royce saw the need for the smaller company to have the same information as the larger companies. He knew the oil and gas industry and wanted to make available up-to-date maps in a loose-leaf binder showing all the wells drilled, including the formations tops and producing zones. J. L. obtained an out-of-date set of Oklahoma strip maps, and Royce brought them up to date over several months. Their idea was to keep them current and offer them a monthly replacement service. Maps were brought up-to-date through January 5, 2015, every month and were offered with or without service. They also offered maps with just the well spots only.

It is with great honor that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation present Royce G. and J. L. Herndon as Historical Legend Award recipients for 2016.

Aubrey McClendon was born on July 14, 1959, at St. Anthony hospital in Oklahoma City. The son of parents Carole Kerr and Joe C. McClendon, Aubrey grew up in Belle Isle and graduated from Heritage Hall High School in 1977, where he was senior class president and co-valedictorian.  Aubrey attended Duke University and graduated in 1981 with a B.A. in history. While at Duke, he met his future wife, Katie Byrns, whom he married in 1981 in St. Joseph, Michigan.  They made their home in Oklahoma City, where they raised their three children, Jack, Callie, and Will.

Aubrey developed his strong work ethic early, delivering newspapers and mowing lawns at age 13.  A local competitor in the lawn mowing business was Shannon Self, who became a great friend and a founding board member of Chesapeake Energy Corporation. Although Aubrey retained his life-long love of history, he was fascinated with the oil & gas industry and started his career as a landman for Jaytex in Oklahoma City; a company co-founded by Aubrey’s uncle, Aubrey Kerr, Jr.  In November 1982, Aubrey left Jaytex to pursue his own business in the oil & gas industry.

While buying and selling leasehold in 1983, he met and partnered with Tom L. Ward.   Together

they formed a unique friendship and partnership, conducting business for several years “on a

handshake” before co-founding Chesapeake Energy Corporation in 1989. The company’s first

two wells were drilled in Garvin County. Aubrey and Tom ultimately grew Chesapeake to be the

most active driller and the second largest producer of natural gas in the United States. At its

peak, Chesapeake had 13,000 employees, leading to tremendous socioeconomic benefits

everywhere Chesapeake conducted its business.


Aubrey was a true visionary in the oil & gas industry, among the first to recognize, understand,

and implement the powerful combination of horizontal drilling and multi-stage reservoir

stimulation in unconventional rock.  He was a leader in the “shale revolution” that reversed

several decades of declining domestic production and increasing imports and helped put the

U.S. is in a position to become energy independent. Aubrey also recognized the value of 3D

seismic data to help locate new fields and define their economic limits, as well as to guide the

drill bit through the most productive rock. He was so intently interested in and appreciative of

the value that geology and geophysics provided in searching for the most productive rock

throughout the U.S. that he suggested and fully supported the establishment of Chesapeake’s

state-of-the-art Reservoir Technology Center. The Reservoir Technology Center gave

Chesapeake has a substantial technological advantage by quickly, efficiently, and correctly conducting the

core and sample analyses necessary to define the best areas to lease and the best target intervals for drilling and completion operations.  Aubrey left Chesapeake in 2013 and founded

American Energy Partners, a platform from which he created over a dozen companies focused

on the best unconventional plays across the U.S. and worldwide. Most of these

companies live on as continuing legacies of Aubrey’s dedication to the industry he loved.


Aubrey McClendon’s impact on the oil & natural gas industry, his goal for American energy

independence, and his love for his home state of Oklahoma cannot be overstated. Everywhere

Aubrey conducted business and was positively impacted not only through the creation of jobs and

economic growth but, as importantly, through his generosity and sincere caring for his country

and fellow man. Among his numerous civic and philanthropic passions were Oklahoma

Boathouse District, Duke University, University of Oklahoma, Casady and Heritage Hall schools,

All Souls’ Episcopal Church, the Boys & Girls Club, and the Boy Scouts of America. He also

supported the United Way and many arts organizations, including Lyric Theatre, Oklahoma City

Ballet, Oklahoma Museum of Art, Arts Council of Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Heritage

Foundation and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Aubrey was also an original member of the

ownership group that brought an NBA franchise to Oklahoma City.


For his tremendous positive impact on his home state, Aubrey was inducted into Oklahoma

Hall of Fame in 2007, and received numerous other awards over the years. Among those is the

Forbes CEO 20-20 Club in 2011, which consisted of only eight American chief executives, among

them Warren Buffett, who had held the top job for 20 years and returned at least 20% to the

shareholders over those 20 years. In 2010 Aubrey received the Chief Roughneck Award, a

lifetime achievement recognition presented by U.S. Steel to only one individual each year

whose accomplishments and character best represent the highest ideals of the oil and gas

industry. It symbolizes the spirit, determination, leadership, and integrity of those who have left

their mark on the industry, and Aubrey McClendon epitomized those qualities.


Aubrey McClendon was a great leader and mentor who expected the best from his employees

while inspiring fierce loyalty and contagious passion from those who worked for and with him.

He was a voracious reader and true intellectual and possessed a relentless curiosity. He had

unbridled energy, a tireless work ethic, boundless optimism and hope, and eternal love of

family, friends, and fun. Over the years, Aubrey insisted on meeting and learning about every

new employee, and they would come away from their orientation meeting ready to roll up their

sleeves and get to work. Aubrey had an incredible memory and outgoing personality that made

even the most superficial conversations or tasks meaningful and memorable. Although he expected a

lot from his employees, Aubrey truly cared for them and their families, providing the many

amenities that made Chesapeake one of Fortune magazine’s best places to work for many years.


Aubrey McClendon was primarily responsible for changing the U.S. energy landscape, resulting in

tremendous job creation and lower energy costs. The people of our city, state, and country

are much better off as a result. He loved Oklahoma City, and his generous and visionary impact

is forever etched throughout the city. He had a true passion for what he did, for his city, and the

people who worked with and for him, and he had a substantial positive impact on the oil and natural

gas industry.


For all his accomplishments and all he did for our industry, our profession, and the state of

Oklahoma, it is with great pleasure that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation

present Aubrey K. McClendon as a Historical Legend Award recipient for 2017

Clyde McKee Becker, Jr. (the Jr. was dropped in the 1950s) was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, in 1928, the youngest of eight siblings to Bessie and Clyde M. Becker, a prominent early Oklahoma geologist. Anxious to join his older brothers in the war effort, Clyde graduated early from Chickasha High School and joined the army in early 1945, where he was stationed in Okinawa in the aftermath of World War II. Upon his discharge in 1947, he enrolled at the University of Oklahoma, earning a B.S. in Geology in 1951, as his five older brothers had before him, and as his son did after him.

After graduating from OU, Clyde went to work for Anderson-Prichard Oil Company in Oklahoma City, where he was introduced to his future wife Anita Ortman. Clyde and Anita married in 1953 and had three children, Clyde Jr., Sally, and Susan.

Clyde later worked for Toto Gas Company for several years. In 1962 Clyde became an independent geologist and operator, concentrating his work primarily in Kay County, Oklahoma, and Cowley County, Kansas, with some work in Cleveland, Pottawatomie, and Garvin Counties. Clyde McKee Becker was directly responsible for numerous oil and gas discoveries in both states. The Becker family moved from Oklahoma City to Ponca City in 1969 to be closer to Clyde’s primary area of exploration and production.

In Ponca City, Clyde was a founding board member of the Opportunity Center and Director-Emeritus of Eastman National Bank, as well as being a benefactor of numerous charities. In 2001, Clyde and Anita funded the Clyde M. Becker Endowed Chair in Geology and Geophysics at the University of Oklahoma in honor of his father. They also funded a scholarship for undergraduates at OU. Clyde McKee Becker passed away in 2006. In 2010, the Clyde and Anita Becker Foundation funded a cabin at the new Bartell Field Camp, which was named the Becker Boys Cabin in honor of the six brothers.

Clyde was a longtime member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Oklahoma City Geological Society, Kansas Geological Society, Rotary Club, and various other civic groups.

For his outstanding professional career as a geologist in oil and gas exploration, and his generous philanthropy in Ponca City and the University of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Geological Foundation is pleased to honor Clyde McKee Becker as a Historical Legend.

Thomas Edward Berry was an oil man, which is to say, not your average person. He was born December 4, 1906, raised in Ripley, Oklahoma, where he once flew an airplane under a bridge, attended Oklahoma A&M College for several years, and became a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity.

His father, Thomas Nelson Berry sent Thomas E., then at age 20, to East Texas to see what the excitement in the oil industry was all about. This learning venture resulted in an investment in wells like the Barnwell Brawley and many others in Texas and Payne County and allowed the Berry Family to establish the Thomas N. Berry & Co. in 1937.

The Board of Directors consisted of Tom’s father, his mother, two brothers and five sisters. Thomas N. Berry’s brother, James E. Berry was a banker and Oklahoma’s Lieutenant Governor for twenty-six years, whose branch of the family became known as “The Banking Berrys” while Thomas N. Berry’s family became the “The Oil Berrys”. Health issues resulted in Thomas Nelson having to turn the management of T.N. Berry & Co. to Thomas E. and his mother, Virginia Patton Berry. Both ran the office and performed other duties for the Company which then had several roustabout crews operating out of Ripley.

In 1949, at age 45, Tom was proclaimed “Wildcatter Berry” by the Sunday newspaper supplement, PARADE Magazine, in recognition of the success he had then achieved in the oil business. The article discussed his approach to the oil business, but it barely scratched the surface of this unique individual’s talent.

As for the oil business, he often remarked that he could explain the oil business to a person but could not understand it for them. He was disappointed by how misunderstood the independent oil producers were by those who saw no difference between major oil companies and independents.

He enjoyed describing his method of finding oil as being the same as Lazarus in the Bible who longed to feed on the crumbs of food that were falling from the rich man’s table, namely by focusing on prospects the major oil companies did not want to fool with.

It is difficult to describe Thomas E. Berry without noting his many interests other than the oil business but which, in his very inquiring and absorbent mind, were all somehow related to the business. Water and farmland were very important to him. He was always on the lookout for “good bottom land.”

He was well versed in a variety of topics and wrote the popular “Tom Berry Says” articles for the Tulsa Tribune Newspaper almost daily from 1950 through 1956. A couple of examples of his articles reveal the flavor of his journalism: “Running a farm or any other business without a plan is like trying to run an automobile with a mixture of water and kerosene.” Also, he wrote, “When you hear a fellow bragging about how honest he is, you had better watch out. With all these politicians getting up and hollering for a New Deal, a Fair Deal, and a Square Deal, I am afraid the public is going to get a Raw Deal.” He raised world class Jackasses and enjoyed training and hunting his thirty to forty Virginia Walker hound dogs. The Jack business began during World War II when tractors and gasoline were scarce. The Jacks were able to pull farm implements as well as haul pipe and other heavy equipment in the oil patch. At the estate auction held at his Cimarron Valley Jack Farm, sixty-eight Jacks were sold to buyers who knew that Tom’s Jacks would be top quality.

As to his hounds, he and they knew each other’s names. He would hunt them after midnight while he and, usually, Art Griffith (former OSU Wrestling Coach with eight NCAA Championships) followed the hounds’ action in his car while driving along various section line roads and often arguing about which hound was leading and/or yapping. (They claimed to know each hound’s distinct “voice.”) If a hound could not follow the drill (such as mistakenly chasing a squirrel instead of a fox) Tom would say, “You know there are idiot dogs just like there are idiot people.”

He realized that complexities of the oil business required combining the talents of many different skills. In his later years, after he turned the operations of the T.N. Berry & Co. over to his brothers, Jack and William, he put together a “team” consisting of many “Oil Patch” stalwarts such as Charley Walbert (Oklahoma City), Buddy Lawrence (Tulsa), Dan Wager (Tulsa), Charles Hinton (Amarillo), Milt Thompson (Cushing), Tom Maloney (Saber Drilling), Jim Kersey (Geologist), Joe Newcomb (Geologist), and Glen Ward (Landman). No written contracts between the gentlemen have ever been found. This team of individuals became the foundation of Berry Operating Company.

His interest in water conservation and agriculture led him to prove his theory that “effluent wastewater would make good fertilizer.” He contracted with the City of Stillwater to donate land for its new water treatment plant to be situated in order that the effluent created by the plant would run downhill and nourish the Bermuda grass on his farmland below (which he called “The Honey Hole”). Often to bewildered looks, Tom was fond of telling people, “I smile whenever I hear a toilet flush.” His legacy of water conservation is currently being carried on at Oklahoma State University by the Thomas E. Berry Professorship in Water Research and Management.

Another important aspect of this unusual man was his role as confidant and advisor on oil and gas matters to Sylvester Tinker, Chief of the Osage Tribe for thirteen years. To avoid conflicts of interest, Tom never invested in any oil plays in the Osage Nation. Their relationship was so close that Chief Tinker memorably laid his good friend to rest with Osage burial rites.

Other aspects of Tom’s character include his approach to deal making which was, “I do not want an unfair advantage, only a fair advantage.” He would sometimes startle others in making a deal by insisting that a contract contain “Puking Privileges” by which a deal could be ended fairly without a big fuss.

Perhaps his view of success in the oil business is best characterized his recognition that “Luck and Pluck go together.” If a deal did not appeal to him, it was a “poor fire to get warm by.”

Lloyd Ellis Gatewood
Historical Legend

Lloyd E. Gatewood was a petroleum geologist known for his detailed mapping of the Arbuckle in Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. The eldest of four children born to Charley and Edith Gatewood in Bixby, OK, Lloyd moved with the family to Bowlegs, OK, while his father worked in the Oklahoma City oil field. After moving to East Texas, both Lloyd and his father helped free survivors of the New London school explosion in 1937. Lloyd grew cotton and peanuts, but only the latter made money.
Lloyd attended Leverett’s Chapel High School in Laird Hill, TX, where he played football and baseball. In 1938, he graduated as the highest-ranking boy in the class and attended Kilgore Junior College for two years before taking a job building roads in the Hawkins oil field. In the fall of 1941, he went to North Texas State University with the intention of becoming a petroleum engineer. While there he took flying lessons, safely landed a plane when the engine unexpectedly quit, and earned his single engine pilot’s license.
In the spring of 1942, Lloyd joined the Army Reserve and while training as a multi-engine pilot, was called to active duty in the Army Air Force and trained to fly gliders. When the use of gliders was reduced, he chose to train as a radar-navigator-bombardier. In 1943, he married his high school sweetheart, Jacinto Williams, became an officer, and the following year flew to England to put his latest training to use. After nine successful missions, he was in the wing lead B-17 when the plane was damaged over target. It flew on to Belgium where the crew bailed out and were captured by the Germans in August 1944.
Lloyd was held in Stalag Luft 3 (in present-day Poland) where he had access to the prison library. There, he read a book on geology. That’s when he decided to change his major from engineering to become a geologist. In January 1945, the prisoners were marched through the snow for several days and taken by train to Bavaria where they were liberated in late April. He returned to New York on the jam-packed Queen Mary, was reunited with his wife Jacinto in Florida, and was driving to California for an assignment when the war ended.
Lloyd studied geology at the University of Texas, receiving his degree in 1948, and took a job with Standard of Texas in Houston where his son Kent was born. In the process of being transferred to San Antonio, Lloyd missed the letter calling him back into the Air Force for the Korean War. When offered the chance to work in Saudi Arabia, he refused, having sufficiently travelled abroad during World War 2. In 1953, he was transferred to Ardmore, OK, and in 1957 to Oklahoma City, first as the geologist in charge of half of Oklahoma and later as a staff geologist for regional studies. Here, his daughter Donna was born, and he served as a deacon at the Mayfair Church of Christ.
In 1964, Lloyd’s position was eliminated in a reorganization, after which he chose to use his expertise in Oklahoma geology as an independent geologist. As such, he did oil and gas prospects, wrote a paper on the Oklahoma City Field which he presented to the 1967 Los Angeles Convention of AAPG. and with funding from Midwest Oil, began work on the Arbuckle maps.
The big picture of the Arbuckle, based on the sedimentary rocks on top of the basement, consumed Lloyd’s attention throughout the rest of his working life. Both of his children worked in his office at different times. In the 1970’s, he added the Simpson Study and thereafter continually refined and updated his work. His maps were used on markers for the Oklahoma City Field and at a stop in the Arbuckle Mountains. On Sept. 13, 1984, he was made an honorary life member of the Oklahoma City Geological Society.
Over the years, Lloyd’s maps have been consulted by those in oil and gas exploration. He always had new projects in mind which his health, unfortunately, did not allow him to complete. In 2016, the Gatewood family fulfilled a request by the Oklahoma Geological Survey to contribute to them a set of Lloyd E. Gatewood’s maps. For his outstanding contributions to the mapping and understanding of Oklahoma geology, the Oklahoma Geological Foundation is pleased to honor Lloyd E. Gatewood as a Historical Legend.
If things and events don’t go as we like them now, and we can just forbear and live long enough, maybe, the cycle will change to our satisfaction.
Lloyd Gatewood 1976


Living Legends

Frederick H. “Fritz” Kate was an independent geologist for most of his career, generating prospects and owning two drilling rigs for a short time.  Fritz was involved in almost every phase of the Oklahoma City Geological Society, from serving as President to chairing every conceivable committee the Society had in operation.  A firm believer in education, he and his wife, Tim, contributed the capital to commence the Oklahoma City Geological Foundation, and the Kate Endowment was the Foundation’s first program.  Fritz was an honorary member of the OCGS and was presented the Foundation’s Legends Award posthumously in 2007.

Dennis Smith’s presence in the oil & gas industry was enormous.  From being a roughneck to CEO, he was involved in every phase of the industry.  He was a charter member of the Petroleum Club, an honorary member of the Oklahoma City Geological Society, and one of the Founding Directors of the Oklahoma City Geological Foundation.  His accomplishments outside the energy industry included membership on numerous corporate and civic boards, with many associated with OSU.  For 35 years, he was a consultant to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.  Dennis was presented with the Foundation’s Legends Award in 2007.

Robert A.  “Bob” Northcutt is a native Oklahoman from Ponca City.  Bob received his B. S. in Geological Engineering in 1956 from the University of Oklahoma.  His career as a professional geologist spans 50 years, working with both majors and small companies and as a consultant.  He spent most of that time prospecting for oil and gas in Oklahoma and adjoining states.


From 1990 to 1998, he was a consultant on the Oklahoma Geological Survey projects.  He was the author or co-author of eight articles in the “Atlas of Major Mid-Continent Gas Reservoirs.”  He was the principal author of three of the “Fluvial-Dominated Deltaic (FDD) Oil Reservoirs in Oklahoma” projects.  In addition, he contributed, either as author or co-author, to twelve presentations at the Survey’s Annual Workshop series between 1988 and 2005.  Bob’s particular area of interest is the history of oil and gas play developments in Oklahoma. 


Bob is a long-time member and actively involved in the activities of the Oklahoma City Geological Society, where he served as President from 1984-85 and was elected to Honorary Membership in 1997.  He was a long-time member of the Editorial Board of the Shale Shaker, the Journal of the Oklahoma City Geological Society, and formerly served five years as Associate Editor.  He is also an active member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and a Certified Petroleum Geologist by the AAPG Division of Professional Affairs.  Bob is a Certified Professional Geologist by the American Institute of Professional Geologists.  Bob served as President (1985), Vice President (1989) of the Oklahoma Section of AIPG, and as Membership Committee Chair of the National Board.  He was awarded the AIPG Van Couvering Award in 1993.  


The Foundation presented Bob with its Legends Award in 2008.

Since graduating with a degree in Geology from Oklahoma State University, Herbert G. Davis has had an illustrious career as a petroleum geologist, civic leader, and religious mentor.


He is a certified member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG), the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association (OIPA), and the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists (SIPES).  Herb served and was involved in almost every level of activity in numerous honorary organizations and societies, including the Oklahoma City Geological Society (OCGS), serving from Treasure to President.  In 1985, he was recognized by the Society and awarded honorary life membership.


His dedication to the AAPG was equally impressive.  His contributions include chairmanship and presidency of numerous committees, specifically the House of Delegates, International Science Fair Awards, Division of Professional Affairs, Committee of Governmental Affairs, and Academic Advisory Committee.  As a member of the AAPG Foundation Trustee Associates, Herb has served as vice chairman and chairman.  In 1982, the AAPG presented him with the Distinguished Service Award.


His generous contributions, service, outstanding accomplishments, and dedicated effort to Oklahoma State University are unmatched.  Herb’s outstanding contributions include the chairmanship and presidency of many committees, including membership of the Henry G. Bennett Society and President’s Club and serving as chairman of the Board of Governors and Trustees of the OSU Foundation.


Herb Davis’s geologic experience throughout the Mid-Continent Area and Anadarko Basin led to numerous publications and papers that dealt with the geology of the Morrow-Springer sandstones, the anomalous high-pressure regimes of the Morrow-Springer, and the reserves and economics of the Anadarko Basin.


Of significant note is his ongoing dedication to serving and helping others in the field of education, specifically supporting the needs of young students who desire to further their studies in geology.  In 1980, Herb established the first President’s Distinguished Scholarship at OSU, providing a fully endowed, 4-year scholarship to deserving geology or general science student.  In 2006, through the AAPG, he created the Herbert G. & Shirley A. Davis Named Grant for an OSU Geology Student.  Through the Oklahoma City Geological Foundation, Herb also created the Herbert G. & Shirley A. Davis OSU Geology Scholarship in 2007.  Herb continues to support these programs and will serve as a model for others to follow in the future.  On many levels, these important actions of “Giving Back” will be the legacy of Herbert G. Davis.  


The Foundation is pleased and honored to recognize Herb with its 2009 Legends Award.

David G. Campbell was born and raised in Oklahoma City.  He received his Bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University of Tulsa in 1953 and his Master’s degree in Geology from the University of Oklahoma in 1957.  In 1958, he married his wife Janet, and his son, Carl, was born in 1959.


Dave served in the U. S. Naval Reserve from 1948-1952, the U. S. Army from 1953-1955, and was a communications Instructor in the US Army Reserve from 1955-1958.


Lone Star Producing Company started Dave’s professional career as a Project Geologist in 1957.  For the following 50 years, he held technical and management positions with Tenneco Oil Company, PetroCorp, Inc., and Earth Hawk Exploration, Inc., having cofounded the Company in 1980.  He retired as the Company’s President and CEO in 2009.  Throughout his career, Campbell concentrated his exploration efforts in the Mid-Continent, emphasizing the Red Fork, Morrow-Springer, and the deeper Hunton and Simpson reservoirs in the Anadarko Basin.  In addition, he was involved in extensive exploration in the Arkoma Basin. 


Throughout his career, Dave has worked tirelessly for the pursuits and endeavors of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and the Oklahoma City Geological Society (OCGS), having served both organizations in several capacities for nearly 40 years.  Dave was awarded a Distinguished Service Award, Honorary Life Membership from AAPG, and Honorary Life Membership from the OCGS.  Dave was also a founding Director and the first President of the Oklahoma City Geological Foundation.  Also, at various times during his professional life, Dave was active in SIPES, TGS, HGS, Sigma XI National Honorary Research Society, and the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain.


Mr. Campbell has been no less active in the community, having served in various capacities and roles with the Boy Scouts of America, the YMCA, the President’s Associates at OU, the OU School of Geology & Geophysics Alumni Advisory Council, Junior Achievement of Oklahoma City, the Petroleum Club and the Beacon Club.  Dave received the Oklahoma Governor’s Art Award, in 2003, for his community service, and in 2008, he received the Inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award from the OU Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy.  For nearly 25 years, Dave has been active in the tribal affairs of the Cherokee Nation, having been appointed by Governors Keating and Henry to various positions.

Robert W. Allen was born on April 16, 1923.  He was the second of three sons of Dr. and Mrs. Edward P Allen of Oklahoma City.  His older brother Phil is deceased, and Paul lives in Oklahoma City.  In 1941, he graduated from Classen High School in Oklahoma City.  In September 1941, Bob was one of two from Oklahoma to attend the Virginia Military Institute.  On December 8, 1941, he enlisted in the US.  Army and began active duty in May 1943.  He attended the University of Pennsylvania and was then assigned to the 138th Engineer Combat Battalion.  They crossed the Rhine and went into central Germany.


After being discharged in 1946, he attended the University of Oklahoma and received his BS degree in Zoology and Geology.  He is a member of Beta Theta Pi’s social fraternity.


On August 21, 1948, he married Barbara Smith of Oklahoma City.  They have three children, Katherine Carr and Robert W. Allen, Jr of Ardmore, Oklahoma, and Diane Fuller of Apple Valley, California.  There are six grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.  Bob lost Barbara on January 24, 2007.


From 1949 until 1954, Bob worked as a geologist for the Globe Oil and Refining Company in Oklahoma City.  In 1954, the family moved to Ardmore with Continental Oil Company.  He became Division Geologist for Southern Oklahoma.  In 1962, he opened his office in Ardmore as a Petroleum Geologist.


Bob has received Honorary Life Membership in the Ardmore Geologist Society, a Certificate of Merit from the Mid-Continent Section of AAPG 55-year membership, the 2003 Rotarian of the Year from the Ardmore Rotary Club, the  AAPG Robey H. Clark Award in 2005, a Special Award for Service from AAPG presented at the 2010 National Convention, in New Orleans; and a Distinguished Service Award from the Mewbourne College of Earth and Science at OU (November 12, 2010).  Bob has served as an officer on several boards: The First Presbyterian Church, where he taught Sunday School since 1956; The Ardmore Geological Society,  The Ardmore Higher Education Center; The southern Oklahoma Blood Institute; The Alumni Advisory Council for the School Of Geology and Geophysics at OU.  He is active in the Rotary Club.

Growing up in rural Oklahoma, Mr. Hamm went to work in the oil fields as a teenager and established Continental Resources in 1967 at the age of 21. He built a grassroots startup into an NYSE-traded, Top 10 oil producer in the U.S. Lower 48. As a voice for America’s oil and natural gas industry and as the leader of one of America’s top E&P companies, he has helped to make America energy independent.

Mr. Hamm also co-founded and serves as Chairman of the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, which aims to preserve the millions of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity and tax revenues generated by onshore drilling and production activities within the United States. Through his work with DEPA, Mr. Hamm is widely recognized as the man who led the charge to lift America’s 40-year-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports.


Mr. Hamm’s industry leadership also includes serving as past Chairman and present board member of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, founding board member of the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board, and past president of the National Stripper Well Association. In addition, he served as Founder and Chairman of Save Domestic Oil Inc., which successfully brought a trade case against four countries trying to put American oil and gas producers out of business.


A national leader promoting health, education, and energy industry advocacy, Mr. Hamm has devoted much time and resources to championing a healthy and secure future for all Americans. Intending to find a cure for diabetes, he has donated more than $65 million to date to the world-renowned Harold Hamm Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma. The Harold Hamm Diabetes Center is at the forefront of diabetes research – inspiring progress toward a cure, education of health care professionals and families, optimal care for those living with diabetes, and effective prevention strategies. To further spark the minds of the world’s brightest scientists, he established the Harold Hamm International Prize for Biomedical Research in Diabetes, a $250,000 biennial award celebrating the scientific achievements of an outstanding researcher, a team of researchers, or a research institution.


Mr. Hamm is dedicated to preparing the next generation of energy industry leaders. In 2012, he helped establish the Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Engineering at the University of North Dakota. He has also funded numerous national education initiatives, including college scholarships, classroom technology, and school capital campaigns.


Mr. Hamm has received numerous awards and recognition for his contributions. Platts Global Energy Awards honored him with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his legacy of leadership, innovation, and commitment to bringing America to energy independence. Platts Global Energy Awards also has named him “CEO of the Year” and at the same time named Continental Resources “Energy Company of the Year.”


He was named the recipient of the “Chief Roughneck Award” by U.S. Steel Tubular Products and one of 13 corporate and civic leaders across the U.S. to receive the “Horatio Alger Award” for outstanding leadership and triumph over adversity to achieve success. He was also honored by Oil and Gas Investor magazine as “Executive of the Year” for Continental’s leadership in the Bakken, SCOOP, and STACK plays and his tireless efforts to lift the ban on U.S. crude oil exports. In 2015, the Western Energy Alliance named him “Wildcatter of the Year” for his contributions to America’s energy security and the betterment of society. He has been named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” for creating thousands of jobs in the oil industry and continuous support of education and diabetes research. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. He was named the International Energy Policy Conference “Energy Advocate of the Year” and the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year.”

Lew O. Ward, III is Chairman of the Board of Ward Petroleum Corporation in Enid, Oklahoma.  The company operates primarily in Oklahoma, exploring the Anadarko and Arkoma basins.  Over the years, he also formed and operated Ward Drilling Company, Rambler Well Service, Ward Gas Marketing, Geronimo Trucking, Caprock Supply, and his son, Gale Force Compression Services.  Ward Petroleum was listed in Inc. magazine in 1991, 1992, and 1993 as one of America’s fastest-growing private companies.


Born on July 24, 1930, in Oklahoma City, Mr. Ward was born into the oil and gas industry.  His father was a driller, tool pusher, and later a drilling superintendent, so he spent his early years moving from one oilfield town to another.  Among them are Shawnee, Guthrie, Odessa, Texas, and Mt. Vernon, Illinois.  During the summers, he worked as a roustabout and roughneck.  Lew attended high school and junior college at Oklahoma Military Academy from 1946-50.  He received the Oklahoma Military Academy’s Distinguished Alumnae Award in 1992.


He received his Bachelor of Science degree in petroleum engineering from The University of Oklahoma in 1953.  In 1996, he was inducted into The University of Oklahoma College of Engineering Distinguished Graduates Society.  He is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Oklahoma.  He graduated from the Owner/President Management Program at Harvard University.


After graduation from O.U., he served as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army (1953-55) as a pipeline engineer in Okinawa.  Afterward, he took a job in Tulsa with Dallas-based Delhi-Taylor Oil Corp., owned by Clint Murchison.


Lew and Myra Gungoll were married on October 29, 1955, in Enid, Oklahoma.  They have one daughter Cassidy and one son, William C. Ward.  Cassidy and her husband own Hidden Ridge, a mountain top vineyard in northern California.  Bill is the President and CEO of Ward Petroleum Corporation.


In 1956, the Wards moved to Enid, and he formed Ward-Gungoll Oil Investments with his father-in-law, Carl Gungoll.  In 1963, he formed his own company, L.O. Ward Oil Operations, which later became Ward Petroleum Corporation.


He is a past president of the Enid Rotary Club, American Business Club, and the Enid Chamber of Commerce.  The Enid Chamber of Commerce named him Businessman of the Year and, in 2007, Citizen of the Year.  In 1999, Ward Petroleum Corporation was awarded the Governor’s Earl Sneed Memorial Business in the Arts Award. 


Mr. Ward serves on the Board of Trustees of the Oklahoma Nature Conservancy.  In the past, he has been active on the U.S. Olympic Committee to raise funds from Oklahoma.


Mr. Ward serves on the National Petroleum Council. He is a Founder and board member of Sarkey’s Energy Center, the Board of Visitors of the College of Engineering at O.U., the University Board at Pepperdine University, and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology.

Louis McKee Ford is the youngest son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Lige Ford. Born 26 December 1928, in Lancaster, Kentucky, Louis lived in the same house where he was born most of his life.   After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Kentucky, where he studied geology and was active in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.   After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, Louis enlisted in the Army, where he remembers thinking that there was something better than parking jeeps and aspiring to get a promotion.   Louis left the army after two years returning to Kentucky to begin his geological studies.  In 1956, he graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Master of Science degree in Geology.  His thesis, which can still be purchased online, is titled “The insoluble residues of the Ste. Genevieve, Renault, and Paint Creek formations at Mt. Vernon, Somerset, and Monticello, Kentucky..”  Immediately after graduation, Louis took a geologist position with Texaco.


In 1957, Louis married Gayle Wolff after dating for only three months.  They have three daughters; Melissa Ford of Encinitas, CA, Penny Adams of Sierra Madre, California, and Wendy Mackey of Austin, Texas.  They have two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  


With his intelligence, quick wit, good mid-western work ethic, and strong moral beliefs, Louis was promoted rapidly at Texaco, with a transfer to a new city associated with each promotion.  With three young girls and some strong prompting from his wife, once in Oklahoma City, Louis decided that he would stay and quit his job at Texaco.   Louis joined Walter Duncan Associates, where he worked for many years before starting his own company, Ford Exploration, Inc. 


Louis continued to promote geology throughout his career, actively participating in several organizations. From 1987 – 1989, he was President of AAPG Mid-Continent Section.  In 1991, he was SIPES Chairman and continued his membership in this organization.  Also, in 1991, Louis was awarded Honorary Life Membership in the Oklahoma Geological Society.   He also actively supports the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.  Most notably, Louis, with two other visionaries, Dave Campbell and Tom Davis, had the foresight to create the Oklahoma City Geological Foundation (the precursor to the Oklahoma Geological Foundation) with the mission of supporting charitable, scientific, literary, and educational activities with primary emphasis in the science of geology and related fields.   Louis was Founding Director and President from 1999-2001 and continues to support this essential organization.


Louis has retired and now resides in Burbank, California.

Ray Horton Potts was born November 6, 1932, and grew up on a farm in central Missouri. He graduated from Gilliam High School in a class of seven students.


In 1950, he enrolled at the University of Missouri and became a member of the freshman honorary Phi Eta Sigma fraternity. He graduated in 1954 with a B.A. in Geology and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force. While waiting to be called for active duty, he worked for the California Oil Company doing surface mapping near Miles City, Montana.


In August 1954, he was called to active duty and entered the flight training program, obtaining his pilot’s wings in 1955. He spent two years in Spokane, Washington as a third pilot on a B-36 in the Strategic Air Command.


In 1957, Ray returned to the University of Missouri to obtain an M.A. in Geology. Upon graduation in 1959, he went to work for the Pure Oil Co. in Oklahoma City. While working as a geologist for the Pure, he attended law school at night, obtained a Juris Doctor’s degree, and passed the Oklahoma Bar in 1965. One year after leaving Union of California (they acquired Pure Oil Company in 1965), he and Robert L. Stephenson co-founded PSEC, Inc. Thirty years later, in 1997, PSEC, Inc. was acquired by ONEOK Resources Company. Ray is still active in the oil and gas industry with his two sons, Mark and Steve Potts.


Ray has served on many educational boards and professional associations and contributed his time and energy to countless charities.


It is with great honor that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation present its 2013 Legend Award to Ray H. Potts.

Thomas E. Davis was born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, in 1935. Okmulgee was an oil town with several major refineries and a boomtown in the 1920s. His grandfather was a pumper for Gypsy Oil Company and was the catalyst for leading him into an oil and gas career of 55 years.


After high school, he started at Oklahoma University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology. He later did graduate work while working in Oklahoma City for Sinclair Oil Company. His career started on a seismic crew in Lovington, New Mexico, and led to many moves to exploration locations in Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma.


Tom had the opportunity to resume his Geology career in Midland, Texas, with El Paso Natural Gas and spent the next 30-plus years as a geologist and manager. A highlight was his time with AMR Energy, a subsidiary of American Airlines, formed in 1977. He was the second geologist hired and became a Senior Officer before joining Viersen & Cochran in 1985. In 1996 he formed Delta Resources, Inc. He has been active in the Oklahoma City Geological Society, serving in various positions, including President. He also served as Vice-President of the Division of Professional Affairs for AAPG. He is still active in oil and gas exploration, living in Austin, Texas.


It is with great honor that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation present its 2013 Legend Award to Thomas E. Davis.

Industry experience:                    Pickens, founder, and chairman, of BP Capital, is principally responsible for the formulation of the energy futures investment strategy of the BP Capital Energy Fund, LP, and the BP Capital Energy Equity Fund, LP. BP Capital manages one of the nation’s most successful energy-oriented investment funds. Pickens frequently utilizes his wealth of experience in the oil and gas industry to evaluate potential equity investments and energy sector themes. In July 2008, Boone launched a grass-roots campaign to reduce this country’s crippling dependence on OPEC oil. In television ads, on his Pickens Plan website, and in personal appearances, he spelled out how our dependence on OPEC oil is an addiction that threatens our economy, environment, and national security and ties our hands as a nation and a people. He has spent the time since spelling out how this country can drag itself out of this dilemma if it acts quickly and reasonably. His 2008 New York Times bestseller, The First Billion is the Hardest, also detailed what this country must do to regain its energy independence. Pickens has not been shy in predicting oil and gas prices and has been uncannily accurate. As a result, he is a frequent guest on some of the nation’s most-watched business programs (CNBC coined him the “Oracle of Oil”). While Pickens prefers personal contact in his dealings — “I’ve never been a big fan of emails. I prefer to pick up the phone and work things out.” — he has always been open to change, and has grown to “understand the power of social media, how it helped me build a 1.7-million-person (Pickens Plan) army dedicated to solving America’s energy challenges.” (A good-humored exchange between Pickens and the rapper Drake that became the talk of the Twitter universe in May 2012 drove home the social media lesson for Pickens — “it’s one of the only ways that I would ever find myself in a dialogue with a rapper like Drake,” he noted at the time.) A folk hero in global business for his tenacity in the rough-and-tumble world of mergers and acquisitions, Pickens is also aggressively pursuing many other business interests. He founded Clean Energy, a clean transportation fuels company, and took it public in May 2008 (the eighth entity he has helped go public in his career). Clean Energy is advancing the use of natural gas as a cleaner-burning and more cost-effective transportation fuel alternative to gasoline and diesel. Mesa Power is developing selective alternative energy projects in North America. Pickens was the founder of Mesa Petroleum in its various forms, beginning in 1956. Mr. Pickens’ career at Mesa spanned four decades. Under his leadership, Mesa grew to become one of the largest and most well-known independent exploration and production companies in the United States; Mesa produced more than 3 trillion cubic feet of gas and 150 million barrels of oil from 1964 to 1996.


Educational Background and Associations:               Pickens earned a degree in geology from Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) in 1951. His many educational associations and honors include Honorary Doctorate of Science from Oklahoma State University (2002); Honorary Doctorate of Public Service awarded by George Washington University (1988); Francis Marion College awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities (1988); Distinguished Lecturer – Emory University School of Business (1987); Doctor of Laws conferred by Barry University, Miami Florida (1986); Named Distinguished Fellow of the College of Arts & Sciences at Oklahoma State University (1982); Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Service Award from Oklahoma State University (1982); Distinguished Alumni Award from Oklahoma State University (1982); Distinguished Fellow Award from Oklahoma State University (1980).


Professional and Industry Associations:               During his long and distinguished career, Pickens has served on numerous boards and industry associations, including the U.S. Energy Security Council (2012); advisory committee of the College Football Assistance Fund (2011); honorary member of Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star Board of Directors (2011); member of the Center for BrainHealth’s Leadership Council (2011); honorary chairman of the National Hunting and Fishing Day (2011); as a trustee of the Southwestern Medical Foundation (2010), Honorary Member of the Bob Hope Theater and Education Center aboard the USS Midway Museum (2010), on the board of directors of the National Football Foundation (2009-Present), Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (2009-Present), The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Inc. (2007-Present) and The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation (2007-Present), Exco Resources Inc. (2005-Present, 1998-2003), a board trustee of the Cooper Aerobics Center (1989 to 1993), chairman of the board of visitors (1983, 1984), and a member of the Board of Visitors (1977 to 1986), MD Anderson Cancer Center, and as life member and chairman (1984, 1985) of the Texas Research League. He also served on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Petroleum Council for ten years in the 1970s. Throughout his career, Pickens championed a new era of corporate accountability and is credited with making corporate management more responsive to the interests of its shareholders. In 1986, Pickens founded the non-profit United Shareholders Association to help shareholders and inform them of corporate abuses.


Civic Interests:                Throughout his professional life, Pickens has been a generous philanthropist, giving away more than $1 billion (when considering some inventive matching requirements attached to this giving, the full impact of this philanthropy approaches $2 billion). His giving has earned him regular spots on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of top U.S. philanthropists. The Pickens Foundation focuses on improving lives through grants supporting educational programs, medical research, athletics, corporate wellness, at-risk youths, the entrepreneurial process, and conservation and wildlife initiatives. In many ways, Pickens is a record-setting philanthropist. His $165 million gift to his alma mater, Oklahoma State University, in 2005 is the single-largest gift for athletics in NCAA history. The $7 million donation to the American Red Cross in 2005 is the most significant individual contribution in the 150-year history of that organization.  In 2007, he raised the bar on philanthropic giving, donating $100 million to two leading Texas medical institutions, UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.  Each institution received $50 million and committed – through investments and new donations – to raise $450 million more within 25 years.  M.D. Anderson already has met this requirement. His $5 million gift to the Metropolitan YMCA of Dallas is the most significant single contribution the agency has received. Pickens is among the most generous collegiate philanthropists of all time: He has contributed nearly $500 million to OSU, split nearly in half between academics and athletics. He has also made million-dollar-plus contributions to a wide range of medical research institutions and treatment centers, including the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital, and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. To recognize his sizable donations, the Stillwater-based Oklahoma State University renamed its football stadium Boone Pickens Stadium in 2003 and dedicated the T. Boone Pickens School of Geology in 1989.  Pickens has served on many committees and boards, including American Red Cross Chairman’s Advisory Board (2005) and National Campaign for a Drug-Free America adviser (1989). Among his other civic honors, he has earned the Key to the City of Dallas (1989), Bill Clements’ Man of the Year (1989), and recognition of support from Ronald McDonald House of Amarillo, St. Anthony’s Hospital, and the Harrington Cancer Center.


Honors:              Several diverse organizations recognized Pickens for his deeds. Among them: the 2013 DCEO magazine CEO of the Year;  the 2012 Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Foundation’s Albert Schweitzer Leadership Award; the 2011 American Football Coaches Foundation’s CEO Coach of the Year Award; the 2011 Texas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, Philanthropist of the Year Award; the 2011 Dallas Community Humanitarian Award for the work of the T. Boone Pickens Foundation; the 2010 Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award; the 2010 Congressional Medal of Honor Society “Patriot Award”; the 2010 “Effecting Change Award” from 100 Women in Hedge Funds; the 2010 Presbyterian Communities and Services Each Moment Matters 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award; the 2010 “Boone Pickens Appreciation Day” in Oklahoma, declared by the Oklahoma State Legislature on May 13; the 2009 American Security Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Public Service; 2009 Time magazine “100” list of world’s most influential people; 2009 L. Austin Weeks Memorial Medal; 2009 Success magazine “Achiever of the Year” award; 2009 American Association of Political Consultants, “Public Affairs Campaign of the Year” for the Pickens Plan; 2009, 43rd annual Texas Legislative Conference “Texan of the Year” award; 2009 Franklin Institute’s Bower Award for Business Leadership; 2008 Recipient of Park Cities Quail Unlimited Lifetime Sportsman Award; 2008 Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Paschal Murray Award for Outstanding Philanthropist; 2008 National Football Foundation Distinguished American Award; 2008 Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution Award for Corporate Citizenship; 2008 Weather Channel’s Forecast Earth Hot List (10 Most Influential People or Entities in the Fight against Global Warming); and 2008 Flak Jacket Award, “Best Spokesperson: Industry,” for being “the most intrepid, daring and verbally agile communicators.” The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Inc. selected Pickens as a recipient of the 2006 Horatio Alger Award, which epitomizes those who overcome adversity and humble beginnings to achieve success. The Alger selection is but one of many honors awarded to Pickens for his achievements, including Trader Monthly’s 2006 Trader of the Year award, the Texas Business Hall of Fame (2005); Oklahoma Hall of Fame (2003), the City of Amarillo’s “Golden Nail Award” (2002); U.S. Department of Energy, Clean Cities National Partner award, ENRG (2002); INFORM’s Corporate Environmental Leadership Award (2002); Pima County Arizona Clean Cities’ Annual Transportation Award, ENRG (2001); Clean Cities’ Clean Air Challenge Award, Pickens Fuel Corp. (2001); Oil & Gas Investor’s Hart Publication list of “100 Most Influential People of the Petroleum Century” (2000); Honda Environmental Citizen Award (2000); Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition (2000); California State Assembly, Clean Cities Coachella Valley Region – Environmental Citizen (2000); Tucson Regional Clean Cities National Partner Award. ENRG, (2000); Riverside County Board of Supervisors, Clean Cities Community Accomplishment Award, ENRG (2000); CALSTART’s Blue Sky Award, Pickens Fuel Corp. (2000); California State Senate Certificate of Recognition (2000); Earth Day Award (1993); Texas General Land Office’s Clean Air Texas Environmental Award (1993); Clean Across America Campaign, honored in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles for promoting natural gas (1993); Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition Achievement Award (1993); Financial World “CEO of the Decade” (1989); West Texas State University Student Senate commendation (1988); Financial Management Association National Honor Society (1988); Washington Institute for Policy Studies’ Columbia Free Enterprise Award (1987); Financial Management Association’s Outstanding Financial Executive Award (1987); Texas A&M University College of Business Administration’s Distinguished Entrepreneur (1987); Financial Management Association’s Outstanding World Executive Award (1987); Honored Executive Award from University of Tennessee (1986); The Future Business Leaders of America “Giant in the Industry” award (1985); Carnegie Mellon Crisis Man Award (1985); Stanford University Alumni Association Houston Chapter’s Houston Business Man of the Year Award (1981); and Financial World CEO of the Year (1978).

Pickens, an avid exercise enthusiast who held the top spot of the Mesa Racquetball Ladder for eight years (1979-1987), is particularly proud of his company’s pioneering fitness programs.  In 1989, Mesa was the first corporation to receive accreditation from the Institute of Aerobics Research.  Among other awards, The President’s Council Physical Fitness recognized Mesa as the “Most Physically Fit Company in America” (1985).


Personal:  Pickens lives in Dallas and is married to Toni Brinker Pickens. He has five children and 12 grandchildren.

James Owen Puckette was born in Poteau, Oklahoma, in August 1954 and grew up in Jay, Oklahoma. His father, Charles Puckette, was a soil conservationist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. His mother, Oneta Puckette, was a music major from Oklahoma A&M.


Jim graduated from Jay High School in 1972 in a class of 79 students. Currently Associate Professor at Oklahoma State University, Jim earned his B.S. in Geology in 1976, followed by his M.S. in 1990 and Ph.D. in 1996, all from Oklahoma State University. Jim and Jennifer have been married for thirty-nine years. They met as freshmen at OSU. They have two children: Andrew, who works for Pepsico in Stillwater, and Sarah, who teaches science in the Peace Corps in Cameroon.

Growing up in the Ozarks, Jim had never been around oil and gas production. While a student at OSU, he visited the Bertha Rogers well a week or so before it reached total depth. As a student, he was recommended for a part-time job with Ketal Oil Producing Company (KOPCO) in Stillwater. His first job was putting their scout tickets, and OCC 1002A/drillers log files in order. While working at KOPCO, he was able to visit rigs near Stillwater and was soon bitten by the oil and gas bug.

Jim worked from 1976 to 1987 as Geologist for Ketal Oil Producing Company, Chief Geologist for Rocky Mountain Production Company, and Chief Geologist for O.R.M. Exploration Company. From 1987 to the present, he has had roles at the Boone Pickens School of Geology that include Research Assistant, Senior Research Specialist, Research Coordinator, Lecturer, Visiting Assistant Professor, Assistant Professor, and Associate Professor.

Jim has received numerous awards throughout his career, including most recently: Outstanding Faculty Academic Advisor, College of Arts and Sciences, 2013; University Excellence Award for Academic Advising, 2013; Awarded Chair of Geoscience Education, 2014; and the Grover E. Murray Memorial Distinguished Educator Award by AAPG, 2014.

Jim is an active member of the AAPG, the GSA, the OCGS, and the TGS.

He has served on numerous AAPG committees, including Co-Convener of Session “Hot Plays in the Mid-Continent Region” Mid-Continent Section Meeting, 2003; Mid-Continent Section Planning Committee, 2003; Preservation of Geoscience Data Committee; Youth Educational Activities Committee; Reservoir Development Committee; and the Field Trip Leader to Cement Field during Mid-Continent Section Meetings in 2005 and 2011.

Jim Puckette has had a tremendous impact on the Geology profession and the Oklahoma oil and gas industry through his numerous publications, presentations, and mentoring of students throughout his career.

It is with great honor that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation present Dr. James O. Puckette as a Living Legend Award recipient for 2015.

Ken Johnson was born in Brooklyn in 1934 and grew up in Queens, New York City. He attended Haverford College (a small liberal arts college outside of Philadelphia) but left after two years and returned to New York City. For the next two years, he worked at six different jobs in Manhattan and took several courses at Columbia University’s night school. While at Columbia, he enrolled in an Introductory Geology course, which was all it took. Ken decided to go west, where geology was better known, and hitch-hiked out of New York City. He planned on stopping in Kansas, Oklahoma, or Texas, and the last ride he got was from a man in Ohio driving to Oklahoma City. Hence – he ended up at the University of Oklahoma.

Ken earned his B.S. in Geology in 1959, B.S. in Geological Engineering in 1961, and M.S. in Geology in 1962, all from the University of Oklahoma, followed by his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Illinois in 1967. Ken spent his entire career with the Oklahoma Geological Survey and the University of Oklahoma but was also very active in various state, national and international programs. Ken remains active in “retirement,” still lecturing, publishing articles in various national and regional journals, consulting, and giving his time and expertise to various geology projects.

From 1962-1999 Ken was a research geologist for the Oklahoma Geological Survey and served as Associate Director under Charlie Mankin for 22 years (1978-1999). While at the Survey, Ken mapped the Permian rocks in western Oklahoma, conducted research on the Permian throughout the Southwest, served as the Survey’s Industrial Minerals and Environmental Geologist, developed a series of guidebooks for Oklahoma field trips, organized and initially directed the OGS STATEMAP program, and was the liaison between the Survey and various local, state and federal agencies. Ken organized 23 major symposia, workshops, and OGS publications on petroleum geology, mineral resources, and environmental problems in Oklahoma and the southern Mid-Continent. Ken published more than 270 books, articles, maps, and abstracts in his spare time.

While working at the Oklahoma Geological Survey, Ken was a Visiting Professor of Geology and Geological Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. He taught graduate geology courses and directed or served on numerous M.S. and Ph.D. committees. For several years during the 1970s, Ken directed and led a 3-week Energy Fuels course in western Colorado and eastern Utah, where students and professionals studied a wide range of energy resources, including petroleum, tar sands, oil shales, coal, uranium, and nuclear stimulation of tight gas formations. Over the years, Ken organized and led several special geology field trips primarily for professional geologists and their spouses, including rafting trips through the Grand Canyon and a geology field trip to Iceland.

In addition to research, teaching, mentoring, publishing, and conducting field trips, Ken Johnson found the time to serve his profession and represent the State of Oklahoma in numerous other ways. For 20 years, Ken served on national and international committees dealing with hazardous waste disposal, karst hydrology, and karst in evaporite rocks. For 15 years, he was active in national programs seeking suitable repository sites to dispose of high-level and low-level radioactive waste. Ken chaired Oklahoma’s Hazardous Waste Management Council for 12 years and served on the Editorial Board of the journal “Earth Science and Engineering” for ten years. Ken was a member of the Environmental Advisory Board for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chief Engineer for four years.

Ken is a member of the AIPG, AAPG, GSA (Senior Fellow 1995), AASG (Honorary Associate 2011 and Distinguished Service Award 2012), AGU, OCGS (Honorary Member 2000), and past member of the Association of Engineering Geologists and International Association of Hydrogeologists.

One of Ken’s favorite pastimes has been serving as an invited lecturer on 40 ocean cruises, from Antarctica to Alaska and Spitsbergen, and all places and seas in between. Dr. Kenneth Johnson has had a tremendous career spanning many geologic endeavors. His efforts have impacted many in our profession and the State of Oklahoma over the past five-plus decades.

It is with great honor that the Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation present Dr. Kenneth S. Johnson as a Living Legend Award recipient for 2015.

John W. Shelton spent his childhood years in Bellmead, Texas, near the city of Waco. After graduating from Baylor University with a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a minor in geology, his main goal was to marry Doris Smith, a local hometown girl. On their wedding day, they packed up and headed to Champaign, Illinois, where he attended the University of Illinois and subsequently received his Master’s and Doctorate degrees in geology.

In 1953, Dr. Shelton accepted a position with Shell Oil Company and was initially assigned to the Shell office in Denver, Colorado. He and his colleagues were instrumental in applying depositional environments to prospect evaluations. John and Doris often moved throughout the various Shell Oil entities. Along the way, their daughter Maura was born in Denver, and their son Kyle was born while they were located in Billings, Montana. Upon moving to Houston, Texas, in 1956, Dr. Shelton worked with many top scientists. With this group, he helped develop the concepts of clastic sedimentation and later growth faulting, successfully applied to petroleum exploration.

Changing career directions in 1963, John joined the faculty at Oklahoma State University, where he taught various geology courses and helped develop OSU’s Master’s degree program in geology. During his tenure at OSU, Dr. Shelton became associated with one of the top professional petroleum research groups, including Dr. Gary Stewart, Dr. Zuhair Al-Shaieb, Dr. Tommy Thompson, Dr. John Naff, and Dr. Nowell Donovan.

Dr. Shelton has authored or co-authored over 50 publications, one of the most influential being the Oklahoma Geological Survey Bulletin 118. “Models of Sand and Sandstone Deposits: A Methodology for Determining Sand Geometry and Trend” was published in 1973 and is still considered one of the premier studies for determining depositional environments for clastic sediments.

During the late 1960s, Shelton met Paul McDaniel, an OSU alumnus who had started a company called ERICO, a geological consulting firm based in London. In 1974, John worked part-time with ERICO on research projects in the North Sea and Mediterranean regions. In 1980, he joined ERICO full-time, which had opened an office in Tulsa to work on domestic projects. ERICO was instrumental in establishing multi-client proprietary studies in significant projects in the North Sea, Africa, China, and many other locales. With the rapid advancement of computer technology, ERICO began digitizing all North Sea well logs in 1983.

After selling ERICO, Paul McDaniel formed Masera, which continued with the geological studies concept, both domestically and internationally. In 1986, McDaniel, Shelton, and others formed Colourmap to use digital methods to prepare hardcopy maps and databases. Digitizing analog seismic sections soon followed.

John had an incredible vision of a digital future to ensure that the American Association of Petroleum Geologists would remain the world’s premier geological organization. In 1989, Mesera and Shelton contacted AAPG about the concept of digitizing all of its publications. In 1990, Masera-AAPG (predecessor of AAPG Datapages) began digitizing the entire AAPG holdings. Datapages continued the digital process to include the works of SEPM, GCAGS, and many other organizations. John Shelton directed the advancement of AAPG Datapages and Geographic Information Systems, but that was not enough. In 1997, the website “Search and Discovery” was launched as a source for online research projects. This website has become a leading geology and petroleum industry information resource center for millions of online visitors. To recognize the importance of this venue, the “John W. Shelton Search and Discovery Award” was established by AAPG in 2009 in recognition of the best contribution posted to the “Search and Discovery” website each year.

The time and energy Dr. Shelton has devoted to AAPG in leadership is virtually inconceivable. John served AAPG as Editor from 1975 to 1979 and Vice President from 1988 to 1989. Due to his dedication and vision for digital information access and dedicated service, John W. Shelton was awarded the Sidney Powers Memorial Award in 2011.  This award is the highest honor by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Because of his tireless commitment and enthusiasm, AAPG was the first professional organization to provide a digital publication format to its members.

Dr. John W. Shelton, a brilliant professional geologist, inspirational teacher, author, visionary, leader, and mentor, is a few of the monikers bestowed to his name. John will always be known as the instrumental driving force for creating AAPG Datapages and the petroleum industry website “Search and Discovery.” He truly is a Living Legend in the geological community.

The Duncan Family has long been one of Oklahoma City’s leading independent oil and gas producers and community leaders. Their privately-held company, Duncan Oil Properties, was founded in late 1981 by J. Walter Duncan, Jr. Before this, Walter operated under his name after moving to Oklahoma in the late 1940s. Most of the company’s operated wells are located in Western Oklahoma, but the company has interests in 26 states and Canada.

Walter Duncan, Jr. was born to Walter and Velma Duncan on November 26, 1916, in La Salle, Illinois, about 100 miles west of Chicago. The Duncans and most of the residents of La Salle were descendants of Irish immigrants who settled in the area in the early 19th Century to work on a canal to connect the Mississippi River with Lake Michigan. Walter came from a family of successful businessmen and community leaders, having founded the La Salle State Bank, Marquette Cement, and the Duncan Insurance Office. Walter attended St. Bede’s Academy in La Salle, and like his father, he graduated from Notre Dame University with two brothers and one son. He met his first wife, Ann Louise Burke, at Notre Dame, and they were married soon after graduation in 1938. Walter and Ann settled in southern Illinois, where Walter became involved in a widespread oil boom in partnership with his father.

Walter had many great stories about the entrepreneurs, gamblers, and hustlers during these rough-and-tumble Depression days in the oilfields of Southern Illinois. The family’s oil holdings grew thanks to Walter’s ingenuity and natural business sense. In 1949, Walter and Ann moved to Oklahoma City with their two children, Walt and Lynn, where Walter continued to expand the family oil business. They had three more children – Nick, Barbara, and Elizabeth – in Oklahoma City in the early 1950s. In partnership with fellow Notre Dame graduate Joseph I. O’Neil of Midland, Texas, he established a significant holding in what would become the SACROC Oil Field in West Texas, greatly expanding the family’s oil production. Walter had a unique business partnership with his father and two brothers – Raymond and Vincent – participating in each other’s business deals for over 50 years with little more than a handshake. Together, their business interests expanded beyond oil and gas to office, retail, motel, and multifamily real estate development. Walter was involved in ski area development with his brothers in Durango, Colorado. It is impossible to communicate how Walter impacted the business community, but to quote one of Walter’s business associates: “He epitomized the quintessential businessman, erudite, sophisticated, intelligent, but scrupulously ethical and possessed of a wonderful sense of humor.

An avid sports enthusiast, Walter followed two college football teams. One was the Fighting Irish of his alma mater, and the other was the Sooners of his home state. In the early 1980’s he helped to found the USFL and became the owner of the New Jersey Generals. After the first season, Donald Trump purchased Walter’s interest in the Generals.

Walter served on many boards, including Marquette Cement, Liberty Bank, Mercy Hospital, Casady School, and Christ the King Catholic Church. He held a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade and was a member of various private clubs and organizations. On September 7, 1984, Walter married Alma (Allie) Ward Cantrell. He embraced everything he touched, which involved his Catholic faith, family, business, and athletics. He would often be involved with a wide variety of sports while teaching the lessons of life to those with him. For many years he enjoyed his annual pheasant hunt with friends from Denver and an annual trout fishing trip with his sons and grandsons. His primary interest lay in golf, where he could often be found on the course with his wife Allie and their friends.

J. Walter Duncan, Jr. and the Duncan Family are true leaders in the Oklahoma Energy and business communities.

The Oklahoma Geologic Foundation is proud to honor J. Walter Duncan, Jr. and the Duncan Family as Historical Legends who continue to build on that legacy even today.

Robert A. Hefner III is the founder and owner of The GHK Company, a private group of companies principally in the oil and natural gas business with offices in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Hefner is a third-generation energy explorer and a 1957 graduate of the University of Oklahoma in geology. In 1959, he founded The GHK Company with Laurence A. Glover and David O’D. Kennedy, both now deceased. Hefner and GHK are well known for pioneering deep natural gas exploration and development in the Anadarko Basin of Western Oklahoma. This led to most of the technological innovation necessary to drill and produce the world’s deepest and highest-pressure natural gas wells. GHK’s historic #1 Green discovery well, with reservoir porosity up to 16% in the Springer at 21,604’, was completed in 1969, flowing natural gas at rates above 19 million cubic feet per day at over 9,000 psi. The Green was drilled to 24,453 feet, then the second deepest in the world, and recorded the world’s then highest surface pressure of 15,130 psi. The #1 Green led to the world’s first 20,000 psi wellhead, a world record string of 2 7/8 inch specially designed production tubing, and the longest continuous 5 ½  inch casing string ever run in the subsurface (24,147 feet) that retains the world record. The prolific well with the energy output of one-third of a nuclear plant led the way to the opening of the “deep over pressured” Anadarko basin. From 1972 through 1974, GHK initiated, engineered, and participated in the western world’s two deepest wells: the #1-27 Bertha Rogers well in Washita County, Oklahoma (31,441 feet total depth) and the #1-28 E.R. Baden well in Beckham County, Oklahoma (30,050 feet total depth).

Hefner appeared 18 times before Congressional committees testifying for the deregulation of newly developed natural gas in the 1970s and 1980s. His leadership in developing deep drilling and production technology, combined with his success in the movement to deregulate natural gas prices in the late 1970s, led to the commercial opening of the deep over pressured natural gas production in the Anadarko Basin. These efforts combined to allow America’s independent sector to take the lead over the major oil companies in developing the country’s oil and gas resources, a position the independent sector maintains today for the first time in history. After the deregulation of natural gas prices, The GHK Company drilled and completed over 50 high-pressure natural gas wells without a blowout due to the Company’s insistence on continuous safety training and blowout schooling for all rig and supervisory personnel. During this period, GHK conceived the idea and implemented the first real-time, off-location, by-phone lines system displaying real-time drilling parameters (depth, rate of penetration, rotary speed, weight on a bit, and natural gas shows.) In 197­­­8, GHK performed one of America’s first 3D seismic surveys and the first in real-time in the Anadarko Basin.

Hefner is recognized as the “Father of Deep Natural Gas” in Oklahoma and remains active in several regions’ oil and gas businesses. In 1997, using state-of-the-art seismic techniques tied to detailed surface mapping, GHK discovered the Potato Hills field – then one of the largest onshore natural gas fields in recent decades – in the geologically complex Ouachita overthrust belt of the Arkoma Basin in southeastern Oklahoma.

As a geologist and lover of the Earth he lives on, Hefner has held life-long environmentally friendly beliefs and has put those beliefs into action on several fronts – not only in the natural gas and oil fields but also in the development surrounding his homes and the family ranch near Guthrie, Oklahoma and the vineyard estate where he and his wife MeiLi live today.

Hefner has always been a philanthropist and actively supported the people and ideas he believed in. In late 1981, after reading a newspaper article about the demise of the project to publish Albert Einstein’s papers, Hefner immediately flew to Princeton University to meet with John Stachel, the project’s Editor in Chief, to tell him that the project was far too important to fail and to offer moral and financial support to ensure it was moved ahead out of its legal and academic morass and into its new beginning.  He became a principal encourager of and donor to the project. He was subsequently recognized in several volumes for his support. In 1987 was honored at the celebration ceremony for the first volume in front of the Einstein sculpture at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

 In an expression of his lifelong feelings for and inspiration given by his first great mentor, Ray Alf, coupled with Hefner’s interest in science, he established two significant endowments at the Webb Schools of California, the “Raymond M. Alf Inspirational and Unbounded Teaching Chair in Science” and the “Robert A. Hefner III Endowment for Excellence in Science,” to facilitate and sustain creative teaching in science for students at Webb.  Hefner had been deeply motivated by Alf’s “Total Biology” class at Webb in 1950 so much that he turned his future career from architecture, which he had loved since he was eight, to science and geology.

Hefner has been a lifelong supporter of the arts. While in China’s Sichuan Province in 1985, studying natural gas resources for the Ministry of Petroleum, Hefner was struck by the depth of integration of Deng’s reforms and the pervasive entrepreneurial spirit that had taken root.  While there, he became confident that these reforms were unstoppable and that China would transform itself into a modern, dominant global power before the 21st century. As a lifelong artist himself, he believed that the great explosions in the arts of the Renaissance and the late 1800s and early 1900s were sparked by momentous rapid human change. So, seeing that China, the oldest continuing culture, was entering a significant rate of human change, he sought to learn what was happening in the arts. On his arrival in Beijing from Sichuan, he learned of the Sixth National Exhibition of contemporary oil painting, where he purchased his first painting, “The Wish,” a painting that tells the story of the beginning of China’s great transition. He realized he was experiencing an explosion of bottled-up creativity expressed by China’s oil painters as they transitioned from the strictures of Mao’s Cultural Revolution to the freedoms of Deng’s modern China. From that day on, he became a relentless and discerning collector of this particular period of Chinese oil paintings. Today, The Hefner Collection ( numbers approximately 300 pieces and is the most important private collection representing art of the Post-Cultural Revolution period. In 1997, he published Through an Open Door: Selections from the Robert A. Hefner III Collection of Contemporary Chinese Oil Paintings.

Hefner and his wife, MeiLi, because of their belief that the relationship between China and the U.S. will be the most important for global stability and economic growth during the 21st century, initiated 2004 The Hefner China Fund, which brings rising young Chinese government officials to study in the fields of energy, culture, and foreign policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. In 2005, the Hefners established the Hefner Initiative program (, which funds cultural exchange trips for outstanding Chinese and American high school students, including the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics.                   

In 2009, John Wiley & Sons published his book The Grand Energy Transition (, which introduces a revolutionary way to look at the evolution of energy within civilization and forecasts the best possible comprehensive solution to today’s and our future’s continuing energy needs. The book has been endorsed by many national figures, including former U.S. Energy Secretary James Schlesinger, Ted Turner, Donald Trump, John Podesta, Christopher Flavin, and Lord Nicholas Stern.

Hefner is a member of numerous professional societies and organizations, including the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the American Association of Professional Landmen, the American Institute of Professional Geologists, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, and the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists. He is also a Founding Director of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, has served on the Board of Directors of the Alliance to Save Energy, on the Advisory Council for the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and the Advisory Board of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria. He is a Member of the International Council at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a former Director of the American Clean Skies Foundation, an original member of Singapore’s International Advisory Panel on Energy, is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in London, and a Fellow National in The Explorers Club. He was elected to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2010 and named Creative Oklahoma’s Creativity Ambassador in 2017.

Hefner has had a lifelong fascination with many forms of exploration and adventure. In 2005 he was a member of a team to visit France’s Chauvet Cave and its extraordinary 30,000-year-old paintings. Earlier in his career, he undertook a diving expedition off Bermuda with a Smithsonian Institution group and Teddy Tucker, one of the most famous shipwreck explorers of all time, to study, record, and raise parts of the Spanish galley “Tankard” collection, information that today resides in the Smithsonian archives. In 2001, he descended off Bermuda in “Alvin,” Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Deep Submergence Vehicle, to a depth of 6,500 feet to retrieve certain deep-growing corals that led to further understanding of ancient oceanic climates. In 1986, he led an expedition in Tibet with Chinese explorer and artist Chen Qiang to explore the Lake Namtso area, camping with Tibetan nomads and discovering caves adorned with well-preserved rock art paintings. Hefner’s article about these cave paintings was published in the Journal of South Asian Studies 6 in 1990. Subsequently, and for many years, Hefner has been President of the Bradshaw Foundation, which fosters exploration for and preservation of ancient rock art and cave paintings worldwide as well as extensive DNA research defining the early human migrations and the early population of the earth. A true Renaissance man, Hefner has a plethora of interests and, at age 65, took up martial arts and, in 2003, received his Black Belt in Shinseiryu-Kitaido. He continues his martial arts and maintains a second-degree black belt.

Hefner has a continuing and keen interest in politics and has known every president of the U.S. from Nixon onward. He has given dozens of speeches and radio and television interviews worldwide. He has written and been featured in a plethora of international newspapers and magazines, including the China Daily, the China Daily Business Weekly, Beijing Review, China Petroleum Business Newspaper, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Dallas Morning Times, Daily Oklahoman,  Foreign Affairs,  The New Yorker, Town & Country, The Economist, The Globe & Mail, Business Times Singapore, and Singapore’s Straits Times, and was the subject of a Newsweek article on energy by Fareed Zakaria.

Hefner has three children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren and resides with his wife MeiLi in Charlottesville, Virginia, and London. His current creative endeavors include Ramiiisol Vineyard, which he and his wife have established at their Virginia estate. Its mission statement is to accomplish Thomas Jefferson’s dream of producing world-class natural Virginia wine.

The Oklahoma Geological Foundation is proud to honor Robert A. Hefner III as an Oklahoma oil and gas Legend.

Thomas C. Cronin was born March 3, 1945, in Olney, Illinois to Kenneth Stewart Cronin and Helen Agnes Diver, where Tom’s father worked for Pure Oil Company as a geologist. The time spent in Olney was very short, as the Cronin family of three was transferred to Billings, Montana. After Tom’s brother Tim was born, the family was on the move again. Over the years, the Cronins lived in Tulsa, Chicago, and Calgary, Canada before settling in Dallas. Tom graduated from St. Mary’s Boys’ school in Calgary, and from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1967. Not having a clue what he wanted to study and realizing fairly quicky that his college football career at SMU, and beyond, had a very short shelf life, he decided to take physical and historical geology. Tom was hooked and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in geology in 1967. After enrolling in graduate school at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, he paused his education and enlisted in the Army, where he served as a Special Forces Green Beret. Upon leaving the army, he returned to finish his geological studies at Texas Tech, and graduated with a Master of Science degree in geology, but just barely. Teaching geology was an option for Mr. Cronin, but two past-Presidents of AAPG were professors at Texas Tech, and their advice was, “get a job in the industry, you will be challenged every day, you will become a better geologist, and then you can decide if teaching geology is the direction you want to take”. The rest is history.

In 1970, Mr. Cronin went to work for Union Oil of California in Oklahoma City while completing his Master of Science degree. Ironically, Union Oil of California purchased Pure Oil Company, where Tom’s father spent most of his career, and when reviewing history of his family, Tom found out his grandfather Lonnie Cronin (who passed away many years before Tom was born) was head of the Land Department for Pure Oil in the very early 1900’s. Also, Tom’s mother worked for Pure Oil in Olney, where she met Tom’s dad. Ironically, Tom’s oil and gas career had been strategically mapped out for him long before he chose to become a geologist.

Mr. Cronin quickly moved into the independent geologist’s world. He was briefly associated with Midwest Oil Company from 1973 through 1974 when it was purchased by AMOCO Production Company. Tom became employed by Beard Oil Company as an Exploration Geologist and later assumed the duties of Exploration Manager. In 1976, he joined Hoover & Bracken, Inc, as one of several principals, where he served as Exploration Manager and subsequently as Vice-President of Exploration. In 1981, Hoover & Bracken was reorganized as Bracken Exploration Company, a publicly held Company at which time Mr. Cronin was elected President and Chief Operating Officer where he served until late 1983. During 1984, Mr. Cronin provided selective independent geological consulting services and served as the court appointed trustee of a Chapter 11 oil and gas bankruptcy proceeding. He held that position until 1985, when he started a new venture company, K. Stewart Petroleum, along with two partners, Mark V. Mazza and C. Michael Ming. The company was named after Tom’s father, Kenneth Stewart Cronin.

As founded in March 1985, K. Stewart Petroleum Corporation (“KSPC”) was a closely held exploration and production company, with a starting capital of $369,500. KSPC developed as a niche player in the independent sector of the oil and gas industry by specializing in the origination of drilling prospects in the Anadarko Basin of Western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. KSPC sold to Chesapeake Energy Corporation on June 1, 2001.

Mr. Cronin is a fifty-two-year member of the Oklahoma City Geological Society (OCGS), which he joined in 1970 after moving to Oklahoma City to take a position as geologist with Union Oil of California. In 1973, he was elected Editor of the “Shale Shaker”, a position he held for two years. He was further elected as Secretary – Treasurer of the OCGS in 1974. In 1975, he was elected Vice-President, serving from 1975 to 1976 and served on the OCGS Library Committee during that same time period. Mr. Cronin became President of the Oklahoma City Geological Society for the 1976-1977 term.

In 1978, Mr. Cronin served as Technical Program Coordinator for the AAPG-SEPM National Convention held in Oklahoma City. In 2005, 2011, and 2017, he was part of the planning and organizing committee for the AAPG Mid-Continent Section Meetings, serving as Chairman of the convention in 2017. He was Operation Group Chairman in 2005 and Finance Committee Chairman in 2011. In 2019, he received a Meritorious Service Award for outstanding contributions as General Chair of the 2017 Mid-Continent Section of the AAPG Convention, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Among other awards he received through the Oklahoma Geological City Society were four Certificates of Appreciation, as well as a Certificate of Recognition. He received the OCGS Outstanding Member Award for an exceptional level of dedication and commitment to the OCGS. For his long-distinguished service, Mr. Cronin was honored by the Society as an Honorary Member in 2019.

In 2003, Mr. Cronin was elected to the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Geological Foundation, and in 2006, he was elected as Chairman of the Foundation, a position he currently holds. During his tenure as Chair of the OGF, the Foundation has grown to twenty programs with assets exceeding three million dollars by the end of 2021. During the time of Tom’s leadership, the OGF has funded over one and a half million dollars for grants, scholarships, and programs to students, teachers, and schools in Oklahoma. In 2006, Mr. Cronin provided initial funding of the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School state-of-the- art science laboratory to facilitate the teaching of Earth Science Education. This generous and continuing donation is in support and remembrance of the Beth Cronin Elementary School Program. That same year, Mr. Cronin also established and funded the Kenneth Stewart Cronin Lecture Series Program, in remembrance of his father, Stewart Cronin.

Mr. Cronin wore many hats during his involvement with the YMCA of Oklahoma City from 1971 thru 1997, serving on numerous Boards and committees. In 1991, he was voted “Volunteer of the Year” by the Downtown Central Branch YMCA and served as Chairman of the Downtown Central Branch from 1990 to1992. He served on the Board of Directors of the Petroleum Club of Oklahoma City, serving as its Chairman of the Board for two years. He was the first Member to serve a two-year term as Chairman for the Petroleum Club and was instrumental with the expansion and update of the downtown Petroleum Club. Also, Tom is currently on the Board of Advisors of the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center.

Mr. Cronin has been blessed with four boys: Jacob, Michael, Joseph, and Shawn, a wonderful daughter-in-law Jordan, and two beautiful granddaughters, Annabel, and Adelaide.

Mr. Cronin remains active in the oil and gas industry with his partner, Mark Mazza, serving as Chief Executive Officer and President of K. Stewart Exploration LLC. For his outstanding professional career and endless devotion of time and resources to the geosciences in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Geological Foundation is proud to present Thomas C. Cronin the Living Legend Award for 2022.

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