James E. Barkdull ’51

When your car is motoring down the highway or your furnace is pumping out warm air, you might owe a debt of gratitude to Jim Barkdull ’51. After graduating from SHS, Jim enrolled at Ohio University.  As a freshman he was required to take a natural sciences course & his choices were biology, zoology or geology.  When he learned that geology meant studying earth sciences, rocks and minerals, he was fascinated. 

After earning his bachelor’s degree in geology at Ohio U, he went on to complete a master’s degree at the University of Missouri.

Jim then began a career as a petroleum geologist. With Atlantic Richfield Refining Company (now ARCO), Jim mapped oil fields in the U.S. – Colorado and Wyoming – and abroad in Libya.  In 1966, he started his own geological consulting business. 

He retired in 1998, returning to Colorado. Then, in 2004, he came out of retirement to help map and develop an oil field in Kansas – at a time when the nation’s energy needs were growing rapidly. Since then that wildcat oilfield has produced close to 38,000 barrels.  “This is the most fun I’ve had in years,” says Jim. “Now I can’t recall what I did during the six years of retirement.”

Nominator: Mike Johnson ’63.

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