Abstract

Jan Wilhelm Bausch van Bertsberg, who died on May 21, 1998, was born in Medan, Sumatra, where his father was a tobacco planter. He spent his early years there, before returning to the Netherlands to complete his higher education at the University of Wageningen. His postgraduate research into the sedimentology of the Devonian sandstones of the Rhine geosyncline was carried out at Bonn University under the eminent professor Hans Cloos. His work involving the mapping of ripple marks as an aid to basin analysis, which was referred to in F. J. Pettijohn's textbook, Sedimentary Rocks, was not published until 1940 (Geol. Kundschau, v. 31). Consequently, he did not see it in print until after the war. His first job after leaving Bonn was for a Belgian mining concern in a remote part of Africa. He used to recall with humor the imperial style of fieldwork in those days, when bearers carried him through the bush in a sedan chair! When the war broke out, Jan enlisted and returned to England in a troopship that followed a circuitous rout via Iceland (where he nearly froze to death manning the ship's anti-aircraft gun). He then joined the RAF, becoming a bomber pilot. His family owned property in Cologne, and he would recall with a chuckle his mixed feelings when he released his cargo of high explosives over that city. While serving in the RAF he met and married the beautiful Thelma Francis, to whom he was devoted throughout his long life, and who survives him. Demobilized in 1946, he took a job with Apex Oilfields Ltd. in Trinidad until it was taken over by BP in 1954. He then joined Shell in Venezuela, becoming chief geologist in the Caracas head office, where he remained many years before his retirement. Myles Bowen, who as a raw young geologist worked for Jan in 1958, remembers him as a most wise and simpatico boss, in an organization where at that time such qualities were rare. Later, in the mid-1960s, Jan and Myles were close colleagues on a small exploration team during a period of six years. His great sense of humor and a generally laid-back attitude to life had a lasting influence on those around him. He will surely be remembered by many senior AAPG members who worked in Venezuela in those days. After Jan's retirement from Shell (1972), Colin Campbell was looking for experienced help as he set up an office for the Shenandoah Oil Corporation in London. After a chance meeting with Myles at a Robertson Research drinks party, Jan, who was pretty much at loose ends, was introduced to Colin. He subsequently joined Shenandoah and became very much the anchorman at their Mayfair office. There he used his excellent sense of proportion and judgement to sift the deals that came their way. After the sheltered life at Shell, he was greatly amused by the wheeling and dealing that went on, and by the many colorful promoters who presented themselves. When the company moved to Dublin, he went too, until he was forced to retire a second time when Shenandoah sold out in 1978. Jan was a sound pragmatic geologist, a most agreeable colleague, and a man with an ample view of the good things in life. He interspersed his English with some curious Dutch expression that sounded like "makker say". We never knew quite what it meant, but somehow it fit him. In his final retirement, he and Thelma went to live on the sea front at Brighton before eventually settling in Hertfordshire. We greatly miss our good old friend. Petroleum geology has lost one of its pioneers.

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