John Hyden

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John Hyden
John H. Hyden headshot.png
Membership Honorary Member

John H. Hyden (1936-2011)

Memorial [1]

Contributed by David Yowell

I was enormously saddened to learn that John Hyden passed away on 24 November 2011.

In 1963 I answered an advertisement for an editorial assistant. When I showed up for the interview, I was greeted by Howard Breck, SEG’s business manager (SEG’s title for its top staff position in those days) and his assistant, John Hyden. I was offered a position as John’s assistant. Eight or ten months later, John joined The Society of Plastics Engineers in Connecticut, and I moved into his SEG position.

From day one on the SEG staff, I realized that John was not only extremely knowledgeable about the Society, but he was a total delight to be around. John not only brought an outstanding work ethic to the job but also added a special ability to keep the office on an even keel with a worldclass sense of humor, which he used regularly to calm frayed nerves and cool tensions whenever required. John was, in fact, a natural humorist always “at the ready” to use that special talent to ameliorate difficult situations. He wasn’t able to “handle” every obstreperous individual with which he was confronted, but he was miles ahead of anyone else I had ever met. Though the basic road map for our staff operations was set by the Executive Committee, John’s knowledge and experience were enormously valuable in making their broad-based decisions work successfully in the real world. When John returned to SEG in 1974 or 1975, he first oversaw the accounting operations and the Foundation, a set of responsibilities for which he was exceptionally well prepared by his education, experience, and outstanding personality. By 1976 or 1977, Breck, now bearing the title of executive director, was preparing to retire. The Executive Committee began a search for Howard’s successor. They realized quickly the perfect successor to Howard Breck was already on the staff: John Hyden.

John’s appointment in 1978 to succeed Howard was the best decision which could have been made, as was demonstrated time after time as he expertly assisted the Executive Committee and other Society leaders to successfully meet each new challenge.

In the early 1980s, with the Society and the industry both growing rapidly, the Executive Committee realized it was time to expand the staff, increase the size of the building in which it worked, and make the building as attractive as possible to potential tenants so that it would be a significant source of new revenue for the Society, and greatly expand the scope of its operations. John played the key role, with the enthusiastic support and guidance of the SEG Building Committee and Executive Committee. A spectacular piece of real estate, along with an outstanding architect, were found. The result was a world-class structure and grounds.

The stunning six-story, black glass building in its beautiful park-like setting is often referred to as one of the finest examples of a major office structure existing harmoniously with nature in a large, modern, urban environment. John provided much of the vision behind this—the Society’s most magnificent asset. John’s work with Dr. and Mrs. Cecil Green and other key benefactors helped elevate to new heights of recognition and respect those who were already long-time special friends and supporters of SEG, and helped place the Society on a more secure financial base.

Though it may not be widely known, John was indeed the key player who brought all of the important elements of this development together. During his tenure at SEG, John guided the Society through numerous endeavors. In the early 1980s, the Executive Committee decided to expand its publications beyond the interna- tionally respected, peer-reviewed journal Geophysics to in- clude a less formal, more readable publication. They turned to John’s expertise to “make it happen.” He hired an outstanding staff to produce The Leading Edge.

John also supported SEG’s increasingly important fund-raising via the SEG Foundation, and when the Society wanted to expand its conference and exposition exposure in China and Russia, as well as other areas of the world, John’s diplomatic skills helped SEG’s early international efforts. I know this because I was there and was far more aware than others might have been of his goodwill and outstanding diplomatic skills on behalf of SEG.

The list of John’s superb work on SEG’s behalf would fill a sizeable book—work for which he was officially recognized with the bestowal of Honorary Membership. John’s accomplishments on behalf of SEG materially, pro- fessionally, in fund-raising, and in public relations, though enormous, were matched by his sterling integrity, his marvelous wit, his overall character, and finally his “class” as a human being.

In my nearly 40-year career with SEG in the United States, in Canada, and in representing the Society’s interests all over the world, a finer and a classier gentleman I have never known. And, as one might have already concluded, he was far and away the best “boss” I ever worked for. John’s accomplishments for SEG, which were many and exemplary, were exceeded only by his humanity and his unsurpassed character. John Hyden was a “gem” in every way. I am personally grateful to have worked for him. SEG and its worldwide membership truly owe John an enormous debt of gratitude.

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Cecil Green

I take special pleasure in preparing this citation for SEG Executive Director John Hyden, on the occasion of his being awarded the distinguished position of Honorary Member in our prestigious Society. I find this an easy and natural commentary because of my long-time and high regard for John resulting from his outstanding performance as SEG Executive Director since 1979. In fact, he is doing so well that I have taken the liberty of instructing that he stop growing older so as to avoid ultimate retirement. This appraisal is due largely to his good fortune in having the three most essential qualities for the best leadership people orientation, innovativeness, followed by related entrepreneurship.

His possession of these qualifications has been well demonstrated by good budgetary control, the successful preparation and ultimate creation of the present-day Society headquarters, and maintenance of a highly competent and professional staff who have provided consistent implementation of SEG's services through the rapid growth and severe restructuring of our industry.

John's admirable performance in his effective degree of collaboration with industry and other professional societies has been of significant benefit to our Society. His close relationship with successive Executive Committees and other committees has been an important enabling factor. But, it's no surprise John has done such a good job in helping the growth during the good times and stabilizing performance of the Society in the uncertain times, since he first joined the staff in 1960 as publication manager, with experience as a district editor of the Oil and Gas Journal and a degree in business administration from the University of Tulsa. In addition, he served in several staff capacities, including business administrator, prior to being named Executive Director. In 1970, John received the Administrative Management Society's Gold Key Award. He is a 29-year Associate Member of SEG, a member of the American Society of Association Executives, Tulsa Society of Association Executives, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. So, while we commend John for having done such a good job in steering the continuing development of good old SEG, we also congratulate the Administration for its good judgment. John has added greatly to SEG's ability to accomplish its goals worldwide. We are pleased to recognize his diligent efforts on behalf of SEG and welcome him as an Honorary Member.


  1. Yowell, D. (2012). ”Memorials.” The Leading Edge, 31(8), 992–992.