Ken Johnson
(1921 - 2000)

Robert Cowdery
Wichita, Kansas
No Picture 

With the passing of Ken Johnson, Wichita lost one of the most conscientious and honest geologists.  His friend, Marvin Frankamp, described Kenny as being "the salt of the earth."

Ken commenced his journey in Arkansas City as the youngest of the three children of Ellene and Herbert Johnson.  His two sisters survive: Melba resides in Plainville and Florine resides in Shawnee mission.

When Ken was four years old the family moved to Cedarvale, Kansas.  He attended elementary, secondary schools, and Cedarvale High School where he graduated in 1938.  He returned to Arkansas City where he worked until he entered the service in 1942.  His tour in the Air Corps included bases in Hondo, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and Panama City, Florida.  After his discharge from the service in 1946, Ken enrolled at Wichita Business College where he spent one year studying business.  In October of 1947 the E.H. Adair Company employed him as an assistant bookkeeper.  Ken soon discovered that wellsite geologists were being paid $65 per day, which was far, more than his $40 per week salary.

In 1948, Ken married Bea Keyser and she survives along with their two sons: Keith who works for the City of Wichita and Bruce employed by Boeing.  Ken is also survived by four grandchildren.

A friend urged Ken to enroll at Wichita University.  This same friend suggested that he take geology courses as early as possible in order to make a decision as to whether he wanted to pursue geology as a career or continue in business or accounting.  Fortunately for the profession and industry, he chose geology.  Bea and Den decided that they could manage college if Ken could work part-time.

In June 1952, Ken received his BA degree and was then employed as a geologist by E.H. Adair.  There he was to receive his early training in wellsite supervision under the tutelage of Delmer Powers, a long time Wichita independent geologist.  Ken recalled when interviewed earlier that Delmer was very meticulous and he learned to examine samples very carefully from Delmer.

Ken picked the year 1963 to enter the consulting field when the oil business was in a slump.  This downturn forced Ken to leave the consulting field and obtain employment at Boeing and later Cessna.

He re-entered the geological field when he was hired by Petroleum, Inc.  In 1977 he again became a consultant.  His timing was excellent as the business was booming and Ken found full-time employment as a wellsite geologist where he excelled.

In 1980, Ken was offered employment with Patrick Petroleum where he remained until that company closed its office in 1982.  From 1982 until 1986, Ken maintained an office in downtown Wichita.  As drilling activity declined in 1986, he commenced a gradual withdrawal from active consulting.

Throughout his career Ken received strong support from Bea.  She worked while he was in college an then returned to the home to raise the children.  Later she worked for Boeing for 23 years before retiring in 1991.

Ken will be missed by his many friends and remembered by his professional associates as both a particularly competent wellsite geologist and as a subsurface geologist.

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