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A Tribute to Robert W. (Bob) Allen, 1923-2019

Authored by Dr. Bob Neman, and co-authored by Joel Alberts

Robert W. Allen was born on April 16, 1923. He was the second of three sons of Dr. and Mrs. Edward P. Allen of Oklahoma City. His older brother, Phil, is deceased and brother Paul lives in Oklahoma City.

In 1941, he graduated from Classen High School in Oklahoma City and in September of that year, Bob was one of two from Oklahoma to attend VMI, Virginia Military Institute.

On December 8, 1941 he enlisted in the Reserve Corps of the U.S. Army Active Combat Battalion. He was first assigned to the University of Pennsylvania and was then assigned to the 138th Engineer Combat Battalion. They crossed the Rhine and went into Central Germany.

After being discharged in 1946, he attended the University of Oklahoma and received his BS Degree in both Zoology and Geology. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

On August 21, 1948, he married Barbara Smith of Oklahoma City. They had three children, Katherine Carr, Robert W. Allen Jr., both of Ardmore OK, and Diane Fuller of Apple Valley, California. There are six grandchildren, four great granddaughters and one great grandson. Bob lost Barbara on January 24, 2007. He later married Francis (Fran) Graffham on November 7, 2010. He is survived by his wife, Fran, and his children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren.

From 1949 until 1954, Bob worked a a geologist for the Globe Oil and Refining Company in Oklahoma City. In 1954, the family moved to Ardmore where he became Division Geologist for Southern Oklahoma for Continental Oil. In 1962, he opened his office in Ardmore as an independent consulting Petroleum Geologist.

Over his long career, Bob received numerous awards: In 1988 he became the 17th Honorary Life Member of the Ardmore Geological Society, an affiliate of the AAPG that has been active in Ardmore since 1921.

In 1997, the Mid-Continent section of AAPG gave Bob the Certificate of Merit Award for 55 years of membership. In 2003 Bob received the “Rotarian of the Year” award from the Ardmore Rotary Club.

In 2005, The Mid-Continent section of AAPG awarded him the Robey H. Clark Award. and in 2010, the AAPG Special Award was presented to him at the National Meeting in New Orleans. He has also been named an Oklahoma Legend by the Oklahoma Geological Foundation and has received the Distinguished Service Award from the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy at the University of Oklahoma.

Bob served as an officer on many boards including the First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore, the Ardmore Higher Education Center, The Southern Oklahoma Blood Institute, and the Alumni Advisory Council for the School of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Oklahoma.

Bob Allen adored the Arbuckle Mountains. He also would rather lead a good field trip than almost anything except drilling a new well. An authority on the Arbuckle Mountains, Bob loved to teach field geology to anyone willing to listen and over about a span of 40 years, he led hundreds of field trips for audiences ranging from scout troops to AAPG past-presidents. One of the highlights of his field-tripping experiences was the day we took Jim Gibbs, Marlan Downey, and John Lorentz to the Lazy S Ranch north of Ardmore.

For 25 years, Bob led Halliburton’s new classes of engineers into the Arbuckle Mountains. For 9 hours Bob would take them to the Basal Oil Creek and Woodford Formations, a “dead” Viola quarry, a “live” quarry in the West Spring Creek Formation worked by Martin- Marietta, the Washita Valley fault, Turner Falls, angular unconformaties, and the Goddard Youth Camp Museum south of Sulphur, Oklahoma.

At this museum, Bob would show the class his magnum opus – his diorama depicting a cross section beneath the East Davis Oil Field. Bob loved to teach people “what is beneath your feet” and was in the process of writing a monograph on the subject at the time of his death on April 29, 2019.

The Summer, 2018, issue of the Sooner Magazine, published by the University of Oklahoma, featured Bob in an article titled “Technology Rebel and Early-day Wildcatter Stands on Solid Ground.” This statement accurately summarizes his long and illustrious scientific career, as his favorite quote was “You have to look at the rocks to know where you’re drilling.”

The quintessential petroleum geologist and educator, he will be missed by many.

Bob’s passion for the geology of southern Oklahoma and his love for teaching others is best put in his own words. “Rocks are beautiful, and geology is important for everyone to understand, not just geologists.” -Andrew Cullen

Below is a cross-section by Bob Allen & Bob Neman from an OGS workshop in 2012.