Abstract

Richard B. Laudon, 63, died in Casper, Wyoming on March 18, 1998. He had been an AAPG member since 1959, and had served as president of the Rocky Mountain Section. Dick was born in Tulsa on November 22, 1934, son of Lowell and Florence Laudon. The family moved to Lawrence, Kansas, in 1941, then to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1948. Dick entered Tulsa University in 1952, earning a geology degree in 1956. While at Tulsa he wed Pat Kemnitz, who survives him, as do two sons, Jim and David; a daughter, Vicki; three brothers, Tom, Bob, and John (geologists all); and three grandchildren. Dick next pursued graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, earning an M.S. degree in 1957 and a Ph.D. in 1959. The subject of his doctoral thesis was the Jackfork Sandstone of the Ouachita Mountains. In 1959 he began his professional career as a research geologist with Exxon in Tulsa. It was natural that Dick became a geologist, as from an early age he accompanied his father, a distinguished geologist, in the field on weekends and during summers. Those outings instilled a deep love of the outdoors, which became a major element in Dick's life, whether doing field geology, hunting, fishing, sailing, snorkelling, playing tennis, skiing, or piloting his airplane. Dick's nature was very generous and sociable, and he was never happier than when sharing his outdoor pursuits with his many friends. Hunting was Dick's favorite pastime. For the last decade of his life he indulged himself and friends with superb hunting on his land along the North Platte River near Glenrock, Wyoming. Not only were there natural duck, goose, and big game hunting, but Dick set up his own game bird farm, bringing in pheasants for release. With Pat's help he raised, trained, and handled the fine Labrador retrievers so essential to his hunts. Dick's research specialty was the geology of sandstone reservoirs. During his decade with Exxon he was in constant demand as new oil and gas plays developed worldwide. He worked in thirteen countries for Exxon, longest in Australia during the early stages of offshore discoveries, and on the Rotliegende Sandstone prior to licensing of the southern United Kingdom North Sea. In 1969 Dick moved to Casper to work for an affiliate of United Nuclear, exploring for uranium. Enamored with the freedom he saw in the local cadre of independent geologists, he decided to form a public company in 1972. His firm, Double Eagle Petroleum and Mining Company, was organized with a $12,000 loan; support from family and friends; some coal, zeolite, oil, and gas leases; and a Nevada mercury mine. The offering did not go well, but just a few weeks before deadline, word came of an oil discovery near a Double Eagle lease in North Dakota, and the offering succeeded. The company began with Dick as chairman, president, and treasurer. Under Dick's guidance Double Eagle survived lean early years, briefly was a hot issue on Wall Street, then grew to become one of Wyoming's few remaining small, publicly owned oil and gas producers--a testament to Dick's wisdom and vision. He retired as president in 1993 and as chairman in 1997. Even when running the company as a one-man show Dick found time for outdoor adventure. He bought a Cessna 182 and kept his friends entranced with tales of flying escapades. He interspersed his stories with quotes from Greco-Roman and modern authors. Robert Service and Dante were favorites. During a ten-year remission from cancer Dick directed a successful fund drive for a Casper hospice. A main goal in Dick's life was discovery, the discovery of things as well as their function, discovery of the capacity of mind and body by pushing to their limits, even to failure, which increases knowledge. Dick pushed his body to fight cancer, hoping the next procedure would be the discovery to end the battle. Sadly, that discovery never came, and he died after a valiant, yearlong battle. But his mind never gave up. He is sorely missed.

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