Abstract

Richard Madison Berry, an AAPG member for 48 years, died on Easter Sunday, April 12, 1998, at Whidbey General Hospital, Whidbey, Washington, of a heart attack, following several years of declining health. It was not quite a year since the death of his wife, sweetheart, and very best friend, Margaret (Peg) Montgomery Berry. Dick and Peg are survived by a son, Steven Berry, of Oak Harbor, Washington and a daughter, Lisa Berry Yater, of Downer's Grove, Illinois. We gratefully acknowledge their help in preparing this memorial. Dick Berry's life was characterized by love and service to his family, his country, his employers, the science and practice of geology, and to his fellow man in all the communities in which he lived. He was born on March 12, 1924, to Charles A. and Inez Madison Berry in the northern reaches of the Big Horn Basin in Elk Basin, Wyoming. He had warm memories of his childhood, but recalled that life in the Big Horn wasn't always easy. Children had work to do. Dick enjoyed telling about such chores as straightening and recycling used nails from a keg he never emptied, during the long winter evenings. He grew up in the nearby towns of Powell and Lovell, surrounded by spectacular geology and scenery. With the giant Elk Basin oil field close by, it is not surprising that early on Dick viewed geology as a logical and desirable way to earn a living. He was bright and curious. He enjoyed learning and was valedictorian of the class of 1942 at Deaver High School. That fall he enrolled at the University of Wyoming, but WWII had come to the United States, and Dick enlisted in the navy, reporting for active duty in March 1943, at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Chicago. While in training he met Margaret Montgomery on a blind date (more following). He served as a signalman aboard merchant vessels in both the Atlantic and the Pacific theaters during WWII. At the time of his discharge in February 1946, he had attained the rating of Signalman, First Class, and received a Bronze Star. After being discharged from the navy, Dick returned to his studies in geology at the University of Wyoming and received a B.A. degree in geology in 1949. While in the navy and later at Wyoming, Dick kept in touch with Margaret (Peg) Montgomery. Their long-term, long-range romance bloomed and they married in 1948. They remained at Wyoming until Dick earned an M.A. degree in geology in 1950. Dick hired on as a geologist for Magnolia Petroleum Company (now Mobil) in 1950. He remained with Mobil for 31 years. His first assignment was doing development geology and well-site work at Healdton, Oklahoma. Soon he transferred to Oklahoma City. He remained in Oklahoma until 1962--12 years--long enough to develop a lifelong fascination with the complexities of structure and stratigraphy throughout Oklahoma and the entire southern mid-continent area. In 1962 Dick moved to Denver as a member of Mobil's Regional Exploration and Production staff. While there, Mobil negotiated with Northern Natural Gas Company for Northern's producing properties. Dick's knowledge of reservoirs, production geology, and exploration opportunities in several geologic provinces enabled him to devise a sensible approach for evaluating properties even when there wasn't an abundance of data. The resulting values and estimates were critical to the success of Mobil's negotiations, and to the long-term economic success of the purchased properties. In the 1960s, as Dick moved through assignments of increasing responsibility, Mobil's management recognized him as a talented, mature explorationist with broad regional knowledge and a positive attitude who could work effectively with engineers and geophysicists toward a common goal. Computers had come into their own as the tool of the times for manipulation and integration of scientific and financial data. In due course, Dick's ability to grasp the essence of such work and to communicate that essence to his superiors led to a move to Mobil's corporate headquarters in New York as exploration advisor in 1968, a position that exposed him to all of Mobil's domestic exploration. In 1971, Dick transferred to Houston and, over the next ten years, was immersed in Mobil's exploration programs in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic shelf, and numerous plays onshore throughout Texas and the southeastern states. Special attributes that Dick brought to his job were his optimism and his conviction that any task, no matter how large or unreasonable, was doable by intelligent people if they just set their minds to it. In 1981 Dick left Mobil. For about two years he was a consulting geologist, working mostly with Florida Exploration Company on frontier exploration projects, with emphasis on the Ouachita and Arkoma provinces. In 1983 he returned to a corporate environment as chief geologist for Cabot Corporation, providing guidance to Cabot's geological staff and focusing on frontier exploration. He continued at Cabot until April 1989 when he and Peg decided it was time for them to retire and build their dream house. We say "he and Peg" because it was always hard to think of Dick without thinking of Peg. They were a pair. Years earlier they had acquired their dream spot; it overlooked the water at Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound. They built a house, and it was truly their dream house and home. No matter how you looked at him--geologist, explorer, fellow worker, competitor, neighbor, or friend--Dick was one of the Good Guys.

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