Wichita, the geological
profession, and the oil industry lost another of the "true professionals"
with the passing of Ralph Ruwwe on September 22, 2000.
Ralph was born in St. Louis, Missouri
on the day after Christmas, December 26, 1918. He and his older brother
John (a prominent geologist who still resides in Midland, Texas) spent
their formative years in St. Louis where their father was a manager for
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.
He graduated from high school in
1937 with the belief that he was not quite ready for college so he joined
the Coast Guard. during this tour of duty from 1937 to 1940, he was
stationed for two years in the Virgin Islands, which he described as "tough
duty." He completed his tour at Staten Island, New York.
Following his discharge in February
1940, he spent a portion of the year working in St. Louis. He then
enrolled at the Missouri School of Mines in Rolla, Missouri. In 1942,
with the U.S. having entered World War II, Ralph rejoined the Coast Guard.
During this tour he was stationed on a destroyer based in Norfolk, Virginia,
which made 12 trips across the Atlantic. The ship was providing protection
from submarine and air attacks to convoys, and in the process did shoot
down one German plane.
After the war ended the ship proceeded
to Tokyo Bay where it was present during the signing of the Peace Treaty
on the USS Missouri. Ralph was discharged in 1945 at which time he
was Chief Quartermaster.
Ralph returned to Missouri School
of Mines to complete a BS in Mine Engineering and a BA in Petroleum Geology.
While at school he married Mary Tyson.
Ralph and Mary moved to Wichita
when Ralph secured employment with Stanolind Oil and Gas in their district
office where he worked to Tom Wright. In 1952 Ralph was transferred
to Jackson, Mississippi by Stanolind. In 1957 he left Stanolind and
returned to Wichita where he established a partnership with Steve Powell.
The partnership endured for 20 years and specialized in wellsite geology
as well as development of drilling deals. It was during this period
that Ralph established a reputation for being one of the premier wellsite
geologists in Kansas.
The partnership was dissolved in
1977 and Ralph maintained a consulting practice until he retired in 1984.
In 1969 his wife, Mary, died and Ralph married Gretha in 1973. Gretha
died in 1985.
In the early stages of his career
he had held several prominent positions in the Kansas Geological Society:
Field Trip Chairman (1948), Secretary Treasurer (1949), and President (1951).
The Society awarded him a 50 year pin in 1999. Over the years Ralph
had been very active in his church, Westwood Presbyterian, being an ordained
elder and serving as Treasurer of the Session. He also had maintained
his membership in the Masonic Lodge for over 50 years.
Ralph always considered himself
to be fortunate in many ways, but in particular in being able to practice
geology. Perhaps his love of geology is summed up in the statement
which he made when asked what advice he would give a young geologist just
entering the field. "Love Geology, don't just be in the profession
for the material benefits that you might accrue."
Perhaps the minister at his funeral
gave some insight into Ralph's life when he referred to him as a tall,
gracious, dignified gentleman. Those of his generation who remember
Ralph might add the adjective, quiet to that description. He was
one of those people who excelled in his profession and in his life.