The Wichita "Oil Community"
and the geology profession lost a prominent member with the passing of
Dick Hoover on January 6, 2000. Many of his peers lost a close friend.
As stated in a profile written several years ago, Dick had "done everything"
including playing a clarinet and saxophone in high school and college,
an activity that he was to continue in later years as a member of the Shrine
Dick was born in Marion, Kansas
on July 13, 1926. Dick's father was involved in the automobile business
in Marion, and he continued in this business in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In 1936, he moved the family to Manhattan, Kansas where he owned a Western
auto Store. With the sale of that store in 1937, he moved the family
to Winfield where he acquired another Western Auto Store. Thus most
of Dick's early years were spent in Winfield, where he graduated from high
school in 1943 when he was 16 years of age. He then enrolled at Kansas
State University leaving there for a period of service in the military.
Dick liked to say that was in the "Fighting 626th Army Band."
He returned to K-State where he
received a BS degree in Physical Science, geology major in 1948.
Dick had supported this period of his college career in part by playing
in the Matt Betton dance band, an institution on the K-State campus
for many years.
Deciding the he needed additional
education, Dick obtained a degree in Geological Engineering at the University
of Oklahoma in 1949. With 1949 being a very difficult year to find
employment as a geologist, Dick obtained work as a roughneck with Earl
Wakefield in Wyoming. Later that same year he joined Van Grisso Oil
of Ft. Worth as a geologist. For a period Dick also worked for Hughes
One of the fortunate things that
happened to Dick while he was in Texas was meeting Beverly Hill whom he
married in 1951. They recently celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary.
Dick and Beverly's two children are: Ellen Thimesch who is married to Doug
Thimesch, a local geologist, and Paul who is also a geologist. There
are four grandchildren all of whom reside in Wichita. Dick is also
survived by a younger brother Jim of Topeka.
In 1957 he formed his own company,
Chief Drilling Company, which was built from very meager beginnings into
one of the strongest independent oil companies in Kansas. In 1967
he approached Tom Wesselowski about buying a part of the company and taking
over the day to day operations. Tom says that he doesn't know when
he met Dick, but he was sure "it was at a party." With the low price
of oil and a struggle to keep a company going Dick branched out into the
motel, restaurant, and banking businesses. He was successful in all
In 1970 Dick told Tom that he was
getting out of the oil business. Tom left to become a consultant
and almost immediately they began "working deals" together. They
actually met with more success than they had in the past. This relationship
lasted until 1982. They never had anything down on paper except for
a couple of "widow contracts" on deals that evolved over a long period
of time. This was necessary in case one of them was killed.
Tom said that at the pace they were going that could have been a distinct
Tom recalls that Dick was the ultimate
"people person." If he was going to have to spend an hour by himself
he says he would just get on the phone. Tom says that he never had
a disagreement with Dick that lasted over 48 hours in their 15 year relationship.
"That's as high a complement as you can pay to any man in any business."
As time went by Dick became active
and contributed to the success of many organizations. He served as
Director and President of Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association, Director
of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and a member of the
Interstate Oil Compact Commission. He was a member of the American
Association of Petroleum Geologists, Society of Petroleum Engineers, and
the Advisory Council to the Geology Department at Kansas State University.
One organization that he served
particularly well was the Board of Trustees at Friends University where
he served for 15 years. during most of that time he chaired the finance
committee. President Biff Green of that Institution comments: "Dick's
understanding of finance and his strong conviction that institutions should
not spend money they don't have made him the perfect person to chair the
President Green also recognized
that his love of music made him a perfect match for Friends University.
"Dick really enjoyed coming to the vocal and instrumental performances.
He loved interaction with the students encouraging them to continue their
studies and practice of music." Dick certainly followed his own advice
as member of the Midian Shrine Band, and he served as President of the
Central States Band Association in 1997. Dick was involved in other
activities of the Shrine which included membership as a Jester where he
served a term as President.
Dick was an officer and director
of the Children's Service League as well as an Advisory Board member of
Valley Hope in Wichita. At Eastminster Presbyterian Church he served
an an Elder.
It is difficult to cover all the
myriad of activities of Dick in a short memorial such as this. Some
labeled Dick a colorful character, but he is the type of entrepreneurial,
pioneering individual that we need in our profession and industry.
Let's hope the "mold was not broken," and there are some more like him