Donald Stuart Macpherson

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Donald Stuart Macpherson
Donald Stuart Macpherson headshot.png
Latest company Geophysical Training International
BSc Music and Fine Arts
MSc Isotope Geochemisry and Geophysics
BSc university University of Alberta
MSc university University of Alberta

Memorial, 2020 [1]

by Nancy House


Donald Macpherson (1941-2020) was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on 6 October 1941. He passed on 20 August 2020. Though he was a proud Canadian till the end, he clung to his Scottish culture and became a fixture with his bagpipes at many events throughout the Dallas–Fort Worth area. He attended the University of Alberta, initially studying music and fine arts and earning a bachelor's degree in 1964 with a minor in math and chemistry. He graduated with a master's degree in isotope geochemistry and geophysics from the University of Alberta in 1965. Don walked into the “best job in the world” as a geophysicist at Mobil Oil Canada in 1965. There, he was responsible for seismic acquisition crews, processing, and interpretation of geophysical data.

Don worked at Mobil Oil in various capacities in geophysics all over the world, especially enjoying his assignments in Vienna and London. Eventually, he was teaching most of the geophysics courses, and teaching them in a way that made them interesting and understandable. He was one of the most passionate instructors of the complex topic of geophysics, clarifying and simplifying it as much as possible. His final position was manager of technical training, after being the lead lecturer in geophysics for many years.

After retiring from Mobil in 1998, he recreated most of his courses and formed his own company, Geophysical Training International, focused on “bringing clarity and understanding of the tools of the trade to people that become involved in (any aspect of) using or interpreting seismic data.” He wrote a simple modeling program, “Siesmod,” that he freely shared with students to illustrate fundamental concepts of seismic reflection theory. He was proud to learn that many attested to using it in their studies. He joined PetroSkills in 2005 as an instructor, retiring in 2018. At the height of this work, he was teaching more than 20 courses a year that took him all over the world. His classes were legendary for breaking complex geophysical principles into simple mathematical concepts.

He served as president of the Dallas Geophysical Society in 2014–2015 and was an Active Member of SEG for more than 40 years.

Donald Stuart Macpherson 1941–2020

In addition to being a great instructor, Don had many unknown talents that would emerge whenever a new topic was introduced. He was a film critic for the Calgary Herald and an artist who fastidiously prepared Christmas cards and envelopes featuring his latest artistic creations to distribute each year. Don also learned how to play classical guitar. He played bagpipes for many events all over the Dallas–Fort Worth area including piping in the Haggis for his annual Burns poetry nights. He volunteered with the Highlander Bagpipe Corps at Highland Park High School in Dallas, As noted in the school's Bagpipe publication of 23 October 2015:

“They get assistance from Donald Macpherson, who works in the oil industry and is a professional piper. Mr. Macpherson has been working with the Pipers for over fifteen years now. He states working with these students ‘Is my fountain of youth’ and the ‘highlight of my week.’ Mr. Macpherson has done eleven gigs with the Dallas Symphony, and considers the highlight of his career to be playing with the North Texas Caledonian Pipes and Drums and Rod Stewart.” (

Mention skiing and you quickly learned that Don was also a ski instructor in Canada, and his home workout was on a special mogul machine. He went to Durango yearly to ski with friends until just a few years ago. He also enjoyed meeting up with his old Mobil friends in the Dallas area, and he was heavily involved with his church.

Don started every day thankful for his friends and the rich life he had, and he ended each day with prayers for all in his circle of friends and family. He was a truly talented, gentle man who was eternally optimistic and grateful for each day he lived. He will be greatly missed by all he touched.


  1. Memorial, The Leading Edge, Volume 39, Issue 10, P. 760.