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Robert Johnston


1926 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Robert Johnston Obituary
Robert Johnston
March 6, 1926 - June 20, 2014
Resident of Pleasant Hill, CA
Robert Johnston passed away peacefully on June 20th 2014 with his loving wife, Doris, at his side.
Robert Richard Johnston was born March 6, 1926 in Mt. Vernon, Illinois to Edward G. and Jewel B. Johnston. He was the middle child of three with two brothers George and Donald. Bob, as he preferred to be called, spent his early years in Illinois, Tennessee and South Carolina. While attending the University of South Carolina in 1945 he was called, along with others of the greatest generation, to serve his country. Bob was trained by the U.S. Navy in the new burgeoning and important field of electronics. He served as a Navy Seaman 1st Class until his discharge in 1947.
Following his discharge he attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and in 1949 received his BS degree in Chemistry from the University of Illinois. Bob continued his education and in 1950 received an AB degree in Geology from the University of Miami, Miami, Florida.
In 1951, while pursuing his Master's degree in geology, Socony-Vacuum selected Bob as one of six graduate geology students from throughout the U.S. for an internship in the Foreign Exploration Division of Socony-Vacuum in Venezuela, South America. Bob seized this opportunity and interrupted his University studies to spend several months as a geophysicist/seismic interpreter in Caracas, Venezuela for Socony-Vacuum. He returned to continue his education and in 1952 received his Masters in Geology from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
After receiving his Masters in Geology he was employed by Standard Oil of California (now Chevron) in Bakersfield, California. During the ensuing years Bob moved geographically and advanced organizationally gaining extensive geological and managerial experience. Some of the positions he held were Well Site Geologist; Regional Structural Geologist for Nevada; Crew Geophysicist for LA Basin (LA Basin was the largest land seismic crew ever formed); Anchorage, Alaska; Formation Evaluation Specialist for the Great Basin Division which comprised the states of Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Idaho; Development Engineer to Santa Barbara District; Production Department Engineer; and Development Geologist.
Bob also had some unique opportunities in these early years. One of these was an extensive two year course of training in the Company's Production Department to cover all phases of operations. Bob was the only Exploration Department specialist who received training with the Production Department. Another was his offshore platform experience. In 1960 as Development Engineer to the Santa Barbara District, Bob was on "Hazel", the Company's and California's first permanent offshore (one mile off the Santa Barbara coast line) platform. Still another opportunity was his involvement in 1964 in the early technical and computer services for the Company which gave the Company a competitive advantage in the rapidly evolving and strategically important computerization of geological data.
As his business life was evolving, expanding and improving so was his personal life. In 1957 he married Doris Beckenhauer. Two years later their daughter, Linda Ann, was born. And, in 1962 their son, Richard Eugene, was born, completing their family. As Bob moved about the western US assuming new duties and responsibilities the family moved with him.
In 1967 Bob became Supervisor of Technical Services reporting to Superintendent of Northern California Exploration Division, his first office job. Bob was responsible for computer applications, technical information and graphics. When the Company planned to consolidate and reorganize some 1000 people in San Francisco in 1971 Bob was given a six months special assignment in San Francisco to lead the project.
Bob's next promotion was to Manager of Technical Services, a newly created position reporting to the Vice President of Exploration. In 1980, as Manager of Development Geology, Western Region Chevron USA he had 150 geologists reporting to him and was responsible for all well decisions and Economics of Oil Business. In 1982 Bob became Assistant to the VP of Exploration and in 1983 was promoted to General Manager, Planning and Services for Chevron Overseas Petroleum Inc. In this, his final position, he was responsible for directing the Company's strategic planning and managing all of its internal services supporting exploration and production efforts. Bob retired in 1989.
In the course of his career Bob served from 1975 to 1987 as National Chairman of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) - Committee on Statistics of Drilling (CSD) and received the AAPG's 1988 Distinguished Service Award. In announcing the Award the AAPG said the length of Bob's "…twelve-year tenure as a committee chairman is unprecedented in the annals of the Association." Under Bob's direction the committee recognized early on the need for computerizing the data base and format for the industry's data. The massive amounts of now digitally filed data are still a valuable resource to the AAPG and the industry.
Robert Johnston was a devoted and loving husband and father, brother and son. He will be deeply missed by his adoring wife, Doris, their daughter and son in law, Linda and Joseph Smith, granddaughters Kristine and Jennifer Smith, their son Richard his fiancée Allison, and grandson Nicholas. He is also survived by his brothers, George and Donald. He will be dearly missed by all of us, his extended family, and all the caring staff of Chatteau III who assisted in Robert's care for the last few years.
Memorial Services and interment will be held on July 8th, 2014 at 11:00 am at Oakmont Memorial Park & Mortuary, 2099 Reliez Valley Road, Lafayette, CA 94549 phone : 925-935-3311
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the / PO Box 742030 Los Angeles, CA 90074-2030

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Published in Contra Costa Times on June 29, 2014
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