Abstract

Stephen B. Powell was born April 27, 1915, in New York City, the son of Stephen Haynes Powell IV and Ethel Burdette Powell. He died in his sleep in Wichita, Kansas, April 14, 1998. Powell attended public schools in Hackensack, New Jersey, and Cambridge and Monroe, New York, and graduated from a boarding school at Mt. Hermon, Massachusetts, cum laude. He then attended Colgate University, graduating with a B.A. degree in geology in 1936. With a teaching fellowship, he then did graduate work at Virginia Poly Tech, departing that institution only three hours short of the master's degree. He felt the need to "get out and earn a living". His introduction to the oil industry came in 1937 when he interviewed the Atlantic Refining Company in Tulsa. He was hired that very day, along with another young geologist from "back east," to fill job openings at Wichita and Oklahoma City. In his words, Steve drew the "short straw and came to Wichita". There under the guidance of Atlantic's district geologist, George Norton, and others, he gained a wide knowledge of oil geology, as there was brisk activity in Kansas all along the Central Kansas uplift and the Nemeha. In 1942, Steve entered military service, which took him to Camp Davis, North Carolina; Ft. Lawton, Washington; Adak Island in the Aleutians; and finally to Ft. Bliss, Texas. Following discharge from the service in 1945, he joined Midstates Petroleum as district geologist in Wichita, remaining with that firm until 1950. The experience there served him well in his future career as a consultant. In 1950, he formed a partnership with Emmett Elledge from Phillips Petroleum, which later, in 1955, included Ralph Ruwwe from Stanolind. This consulting trio gained wide respect in its chosen specialty, well-site geology, along with generating quality drilling prospects. Elledge retired in 1958 but the partnership with Ruwwe continued until 1976. Steve's well-site work ended in 1980 after he suffered a stroke; however, his keen interest and dedication to geology kept him from total retirement. After recovery he was persuaded to join Arrowhead Petroleum by its founder, Paul Seymour, continuing the search for oil until 1983 when he finally retired. In 1942, after a whirlwind courtship, he married Laberta Lacey from Sharon Springs, Kansas. "Lacey," as she has been known these many years, worked for Phillips Petroleum Company in their marketing section. They were married in the First Presbyterian Church in Wichita where they continued to worship throughout their years together. Steve is survived by his wife and two children, a daughter, Christine of Lubbock, Texas, and a son, Stephen L. of Tumacacori, Arizona, and a sister, Dorothy Gitlitz, Ft. Meyers, Florida. Steve, as he was known to all of his friends and acquaintances, was a private and gentle man, generous in his dealings with others and lovable with his family. He treated his clients as friends; his honest nature would never allow him to use them for gain. He was a longtime and dear friend and will be missed by us all. And our profession will have lost another very good geologist.

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