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
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
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
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.