Warren E. Tomlinson
(1921 - 2000)

Robert Cowdery
Wichita, Kansas
Information contributed by
Jim Rheem
No Picture 

On January 12, 2000 a 54 year career in the geologic profession and the Kansas "Oil Patch" came to an end with the passing of Warren Tomlinson.  This career was to take him from major company employment, through a partnership in an independent oil company, and to a public stock company.  In all Warren was a respected representative of his profession and his industry.

His journey commenced in Braman, Oklahoma just a few miles south of the Kansas border.  His father's career as a tool dresser on a cable tool rig was soon to take him to the Wichita area.  Included in Warren's family were two brothers both now deceased: Tommy a pharmacist and Bill an attorney.

Warren's schooling included Harry Street, Willard, and Robinson schools.  Following graduation from Wichita East in 1939 he enrolled at Wichita University.  Warren enrolled in geology after being influenced by a high school teacher Mr. Barnhardt.  Thus commenced an association that was to continue for the rest of his life and culminated in his service as chairman of the university's Board of Trustees.

After graduation in 1943, Warren proceeded to Ft. Benning, Georgia where he graduated from Officers Candidate School as a 2nd Lieutenant also in 1943.  At his request he was assigned to the South Pacific Theater.  There, from Tinian, he was to lead his B-29 crew in 15 missions.  As Jim Rheem says, "He loved flying" and this love of flying was to lead him into owning several planes later in his career.  He used those planes for both business and pleasure, taking his family to vacation homes in Texas and California where he could spend quality time with them.

During the war, Warren married Colleen Ward.  Warren and Colleen were married for over 50 years until her death.  They had two children, Mike and Terri, who along with grandchildren survive Warren.

After his discharge in 1945 Warren returned to Wichita to continue employment with Magnolia.  He had worked there as a sample boy under the tutelage of Pat Philbrick while a student at Wichita University.  In 1951 Warren left Magnolia to form a partnership with Jerry Kathol and Harry Emmerich, however Harry soon returned to Mobil.  Out of this partnership, Tomkat was formed in 1957 at which time they acquired drilling rigs.  This partnership was dissolved in 1966 with Jerry retaining ownership of the rigs and Warren the production.

Warren formed Tomlinson Oil which he took public in 1969.  He followed a path of expansion with an exploration office in West Texas where the company also owned a refinery and a gas processing plant.  Several individuals attest to Warren's ability as a manager and as a human being.  Craig Taylor, an employee of Warren's during his ownership of Tomlinson Oil, says that "his talents as corporate leader were unmistakable.  He was an excellent organizer, an excellent speaker and was always well groomed."  he had an outstanding ability to meet people, and put them at ease.  Virginia Fabian, his personal secretary, echoes these remarks.  She remembers Warren as "being on a first name basis with anybody that worked with him.  Our office was very laid back.  He could talk with anyone."

Clay Hedrick with whom Warren shared an office in later years has this to say.  "I've never heard Warren say a bad word about anyone."  His son-in-law, Charles Brim remembers him as always being generous.  "If he found that one of his employees needed something, he just did it, he made it happen....if there was an illness or they needed tires."

Warren's ability to work with and enjoy people extended far beyond his own company.  Industry associated activities included: three terms as President of Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association, appointment to the Energy Advisory Council of Kansas, appearances before congressional committees etc.  Beyond industry and WSU, he was President of the Better Business Bureau of Wichita, and as an avid golf, President of Crestview Country Club.

Since 1984, Warren worked as an independent geologist and oil producer until his death after a short illness on January 12, 2000.  this is an individual who will truly be missed by his many friends and colleagues.

A memorial fund has been established in Warren's name with the Wichita State Endowment.

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