Eric Jager
(1918 - 2000)

Robert Cowdery
Wichita, Kansas
No Picture 

The oil industry and the geologic profession lost a true "oil finder" of the Mid Continent are when Eric Jager died in Dallas.  Eric not only found major reserves, but he trained a number of geologists who after working for Eric, founded their own successful companies or became recognized "oil finders" in their own right.

Eric was born in Wichita in July 1918 to a prominent Wichita family.  His mother, Margaret Case Jager was a member of a family that owned a number of lumber yards in the area.  His father, Dr. Thor Jager, was a diagnostician who was widely known and highly respected in a five state area.  His brother was a research M.D. and his sister, a journalist in the Washington D.C. area. 

He received his education in Wichita schools including Wichita East High School where he graduated at the age of 16.  He followed this educational feat by graduating Cum Laude from Harvard, in 1939.  Eric then received an MA in Geology and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Texas, Austin.

While at the University of Texas, Eric met Emma Old of Mt. Pleasant, Texas and to this union were born three children: eric Thor who lives in the Kansas City area, Karen (Jager) Graves who lives in Dallas, and Jan (Jager) Martin of Tucson.  There are also a number of grandchildren.  Charlotte Weidman who worked with Eric for a number of years recalls his devotion to his family.

After receiving his MA, Eric secured employment with Gulf Oil in Wichita.  Among the employees of Gulf at the time were many well known wichita geologists including; Anthony Folger, Wayne Walcher, Bob Carmody, Jack Heathman, and Virgil Cole.

In 1942, Eric entered the Army where he was to serve until 1945.  This period included 18 months of duty in the European Theater at the height of World War II.  Eric was involved in considerable action as a platoon leader and Company Commander of an Armored Reconnaissance Unit of the 3rd Army.  Eric recalled that he saw General George Patton, the Commander of the third Army many times when Patton would arrive at the front lines in a shiny helmet with the sirens on his vehicle screaming.  Eric's service in this dangerous activity earned him the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and five campaign stars.

After his discharge, Eric returned to Wichita and was employed by Stanolind Oil for three years.  In 1948, a successful local entrepreneur, R.H. Garvey was investing a considerable amount of the family income in oil.  He was looking for someone to establish an oil company for him.  He selected Eric and Petroleum Inc. was formed.  Eric used an isopach of a seismic interval to find numerous fields in the Stafford County, Kansas area.  Later, Petroleum Inc. expanded until at various intervals it had exploration offices in: Lafayette, Shreveport, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Liberal, Denver, Casper, and Calgary where operations were conducted under the name of Garvey Exploration.  Eric also had the overall responsibility for as many as 16 drilling rigs that operated under the title of Garvey Drilling.

As the company evolved, Eric trained many of the area's successful "oil finders."  The list is long and includes: Jim "Cowboy" Morris, Thornton Anderson, Karl Becker, Fred Stump, Gus Messinger, Dick Linehan, Gene Falkowski, hank Filson, Jay McNeil, Jene Darmstetter, Kenny Johnson, Bill Romig, Dick Zimmerman, Ron Irion, and Joe Moreland.

In 1985, Eric retired after an illustrious career and with the satisfaction of knowing that he had built a successful and dynamic oil company.  With retirement, the opportunity came to enjoy the camaraderie of the "first table" at the Petroleum Club and to enjoy other pursuits such as reading, walking, and travel.

After spending some of their retirement years in Wichita, Emma and Eric moved to Dallas where their daughter, Karen lives.  While in the Wichita area he participated in community affairs including service as a member of the Wichita Symphony Board and involvement with the Wichita Art Association.  He continued this type of activity in Dallas .

Eric was an Emeritus Member of The American Association of Petroleum Geologists having been a member since 1942.  He was also a member of The Kansas Geological Society since 1948.

This man added much to the "oil lore" of Kansas and other areas.  His legacy includes finding oil while training and mentoring other geologists.

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