Robert C. Kendall served as the 1965-1966 SEG President.
Robert C. Kendall, a Past-President of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists died 9 July 1998 in Lakewood, Colorado after a brief illness.
He was born in 1911 in Jefferson, Indiana. His parents were schoolteachers and his father had a particular interest in geology and meteorology. According to Bob, as a result of this influence, he was able to read geology maps by the time he entered the second grade.
Bob graduated first in his class at Jeffersonville High School in 1928 and continued his education at DePauw University from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1932 with a major in physics and a minor in mathematics. He then earned an MS in physics at California Institute of Technology. He married Anne Morrison on 18 September 1936 in Glendale, California, the beginning of a wonderful 62-year partnership. Twins arrived in 1940.
Bob began his professional career with Shell Oil Company as an assistant seismologist on a crew in Long Beach, California. He advanced shortly to party chief, working out of Bakersfield, California. During this period, he conducted field research on seismic interference patterns in the San Joaquin Valley.
He was then transferred to a field crew in Shell's midcontinent area where he explored for and found numerous small reef oil fields in north Texas. He was promoted to area geophysicist of the Midcontinent Area and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1947. This was followed by a transfer to Denver in 1953 where he served as area geophysicist of the Rocky Mountain Area until 1964.
It was during this phase of his career that I first became acquainted with Bob and we became good friends. Early on I was introduced to one of his many hobbies. We had just spent a long day in the field, observing a seismic crew in southwestern Wyoming, when he suggested we go down to the railroad station in Evanston and watch the Zephyr come through from Portland. I admitted being surprised that he knew the train's schedule. However, it turned out that his hobby was collecting railroad passenger guides. I was able to get a Pennsylvania passenger guide for him since my father was a passenger conductor at that time, Maps were another of his hobbies and he collected several thousand topographic maps. Other interests included gardening, bridge, chess, skiing, photography and last but not least mountain climbing. He climbed most of the peaks in southern California and Colorado, Gold Peak in New Mexico, and Kinabalu, the highest peak in Borneo. Bob was not a one-dimensional person.
Before leaving Denver, he was very active in supporting the use of variable area recording both inside and outside of Shell. Today it is widely used. Bob left the Denver area in 1967 and continued to work another 19 years. He spent three years in New Orleans as a senior staff geophysicist; then he accepted assignments to the Hague and three tours of duty in Oman where he wrote reports on the offshore reefs of Sarawac and the Fahud Field of Oman.
He then returned to Denver (upon retiring from Shell) and consulted for Champlin, Occidental, and Clayton Williams until 1986. During this long career he moved 52 times.
Bob served his professional community as secretary of the Geophysical Society of Tulsa, president of the Denver Geophysical Society, Vice-President and President (1965-1966) of SEG, and on the U.S. National Committee for Geology. While SEG President, he supported the development of the dictionary of seismic terms and strongly recommended the industry develop and use seismic data to aid in predicting subsurface stratigraphy. He was awarded life membership in the Southeastern Geophysical Society and in 1974 DePauw University's Distinguished Alumni Award.
Every professional should have the opportunity to work for a supervisor like Bob Kendall at least once. Bob had the knack of quietly keeping control of geophysical operations and yet allowing his staff enough freedom to work on and develop new ideas and new approaches. He knew how to listen, yet had the technical ability to advise when needed. He was always conscious of the human side and dignity of his staff and was known to protest when he felt political issues prevailed over technical judgment.
What more could one ask.
His wife, two children and three grandchildren survive Bob. They ask that any donations in his memory be made to the SEG Foundation Museum. May this former Sunday school teacher and choir member rest in peace.
- Yorston, H., Tucker, P., Meyer, D., Marsh, M., and Brumbaugh, E. (1998). ”Memorials.” The Leading Edge, 17(10), 1464–1465.