G. H. Westby

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Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

The award of Honorary Membership in the Society of Exploration Geophysicists traditionally goes "to those who have made a career-long impact on geophysics and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists." This is true in the nth degree for Gerald H. Westby--Active Member and Charter Member of the Society.

Gerry's entire career is tied to geophysics, from early education to active participation after retirement. Born in Stoughton, Wisconsin, he attended nearby University of Chicago, receiving a Ph.D. in geology in 1920, B. G. (Before Geophysics). He studied at Stanford in '24, and in the Colorado School of Mines' first class in geophysics in 1926-27. He was awarded an Honorary Degree, that of Doctor of Science, by the University of Tulsa in 1964.


Gerry's oil finding vehicle, known all over the world as Seismograph Service Corporation, or SSC, now advertises its slogan as "The Finders." He found SSC in 1933, when he joined the company as vice-president. Previous to that, he had started his "finding" career in 1924 as a field geologist for Empire Oil and Refining, now Cities Service. True to his bent, he became chief geophysicist of Empire in '27 to '33, the time of his momentous switch to SSC.

That change was earth shaking, for Gen3r became president of SSC in 1935, and SSC quite literally began shaking the entire world with seismic shots. It became, under Gerry, a leader in the geophysical contracting business, with a reputation for quality of data and excellence of interpretation techniques which was highly beneficial to clients and stimulating to competition. A company is known by the subsidiaries it keeps. To operate world wide, and to diversify, SSC established a dozen substantial subsidiaries, including Lorac Service Corporation. Of these, Westby was president of nine, and managing director of three associated with and including Seismograph Service Limited, the English subsidiary.

After 31 years of "finding," SSC, retaining its name, merged with Raytheon Company in late 1966, at which time Gerry stepped either down or up to chairman of the board and chief executive officer of SSC and nine subsidiaries, and a director of Raytheon. He retired from this no mean task in October 1970, but he is still associated with SSC as a consultant.

The stature of the man can also be measured by his considerable civic responsibilities and actions. Gerry

Westby was president of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce in 1947, chairman of the International Petroleum Exposition Hall of Science in 1953, chairman of the University of Tulsa Board of Trustees 1966-69, and chairman of the Tulsa Psychiatric Foundation 1963-65. He was 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in World War I, and Commander, NE Oklahoma Group, of the very active Civil Air Patrol 1941-45 in World War II. As early as 1950, the University of Chicago Alumni Association gave him their award for leadership in civic, social, and religious activities.


Gerry was Vice-President of SEG no less than three times, and Secretary-Treasurer for one term. He was a distinguished lecturer for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists one year. He is a member of eight earth science societies; he has contributed a number of papers to the literature.

Other less technical memberships include the All Souls Unitarian Church, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and six clubs, including the New York Yacht Club. He founded the Tulsa branch of the Foreign Policy Association.

On the lighter side, Gerry is a charter member and pianist for the Rare Bach and Let 'Era Have It Boys, a Dixieland Jazz group which he named. He is a pilot of long standing, with a twin-engine and instrument rating, and a sea captain of long standing as well. The only activity he has abandoned is tennis; this is only because of the press of other duties and interests. He still is an ardent swimmer, doubtless an insurance against a yachting mishap. Gerry is a devoted family man. He has two boys and three girls (a full house) and a charming wife, Kathleen, who deserves an equal commendation for her civic activities in home town Tulsa.

In summary, Gerry Westby has been a superb geophysicist for all seasons--personable, well liked, and dedicated to geophysics above all. This award of Honorary Membership is a fitting token of the very high esteem and respect he has earned from his fellow members of this Society, as well as for his accomplishments which have so greatly furthered the causes of mineral and hydrocarbon exploration over the world.