Ralph Ruwwe
(1918 - 2000)

Robert Cowdery
Wichita, Kansas
No Picture 

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.

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