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