Howard Breck

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Howard Breck
Howard Breck headshot.png
Membership Honorary Member

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership 1978 [1]

Contributed by Carl H. Savit

Persistence and determination alone are all powerful -Calvin Coolidge

When Howard Breck was appointed Business Manager of SEG in 1962, SEG's selection committee and officers were hoping only to insure tranquility and effectiveness at headquarters. The bonus the Society happily received was the distinguished contribution to the advancement of the profession of exploration geophysics that qualifies Howard Breck for election as an Honorary Member.

In order for a professional society such as SEG to function properly, the headquarters operation must be responsive both to the needs of the members and to the directives of the elective officers while at the same time it must carry on the day-to-day business of the society. To carry off this kind of a juggling feat without serious conflict over a 16-year period requires the unique combination of tact and diplomacy with firmness and persistent determination that so well characterize Howard.

In his 16 years as Business Manager and Executive Director, Howard Breck has managed to guide SEG through a period of explosive growth in which the membership doubled and the budget increased eightfold. Through this frenetic period, the Society was spared the factionalism, the power struggles, and the financial crises that have plagued many of our sister organizations in the scientific and engineering professions.

Howard's geophysical understanding and management skills had been finely honed by a distinguished career spanning 22 years in the real world of geophysical operations. Most of this time had been spent with SSC and included extensive experience as a party chief and supervisor on U.S. and Venezuelan field crews. His persistence and determination brought him early recognition and reward as the 1950 Party Chief of the Year for SSC.

Progressing through several managerial assignments in SSC, Howard attained the title of Assistant Vice-President, in which position he became well known to a large segment of the profession. In the period 1954-59 Howard successfully organized the first, and for some years the only, continuous-velocity-logging service, a reliable and efficient service widely used in the petroleum industry. Much of the well-velocity information in use today still bears the imprint of the Breck thoroughness and meticulous attention to detail that he brought and still brings to all his endeavors.

To this day Howard Breck's mental filing system is conceded to be superior to the property records and ledgers of SEG's accountants. His budgets and projections and his management of finances have always been prudent and conservative with the result that SEG is unique among professional societies in having minimal dues, no publication page charges, a perennially balanced budget, and adequate reserves.

While recounting Howard's management talents, one should not overlook his solid technical accomplishments expressed in publications and papers in the fields of velocity logging and synthetic seismograms. His interests and accomplishments range over many fields, so much so that his staff has awarded him a series of humorous awards such as one in tire engineering from the "National Tire Engineering Institute."

To the average member, Howard's stewardship of the Society has appeared uneventful. No crises required urgent action; President followed President without engendering rancor or power struggles; great changes in the underlying technologies of geophysics and of technical publication were smoothly accommodated; and the scope of activity of SEG was profoundly but unobtrusively altered. Through it all Howard has remained affable and gregarious, an unassuming friend to all.

Howard Breck has indeed earned and fully deserves at least part of an Honorary Membership; the other part belongs to Howard's wife, Martha, whose support and cheerful good nature were and continue to be a major ingredient in her husband's success.


  1. Program of the SEG 48th Annual Meeting Kickoff Luncheon, Monday, October 30 I Civic Auditorium I 12:00 noon - 2:00 p.m.