The Settegast-Kopf [email protected] Creek
15015 Southwest Fwy
Sugar Land, TX 77478
(281) 565-5015
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Robert Sheriff

1922 - 2014
Robert Sheriff Obituary
DR. ROBERT E. (BOB) SHERIFF, passed peacefully at his home in Missouri City, Texas, on November 19, 2014.
Bob was born in Mansfield, Ohio, on April 19, 1922, to Reverend Charles F., a Lutheran minister, and Marjorie R. (Norton) Sheriff. The eldest of two children, Bob was raised in Mansfield and graduated from Wittenberg College in 1943 with a BS in Chemistry before attending Ohio State University for graduate work. In 1943, Bob was recruited for the famous WWII "Manhattan Project" in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and worked there until the end of the war on uranium isotope separation. In Oak Ridge he met Margaret M. Sites, another Project employee, and they married October 13, 1945. In 1949 Bob fulfilled his promise to take Margaret to Europe. After steaming overseas they biked and hitchhiked from Great Britain to Italy, the first of this couple's many international travels. Bob received his MS in Physics in 1947 and PhD in Physics in 1950 from Ohio State University and then accepted an offer from Standard of California (Chevron) to work in their new geophysical research lab in southern California. Bob worked for Chevron in a variety of geophysical and managerial positions for the next 25 years, including managing geophysical crews and drilling activity overseas in South America and Australia in the 1950's and 60's. From home base in Port of Spain, Trinidad and then Perth, Western Australia, and now with 6 young children in tow, Bob & Margaret traveled round the world 3 times on extended home leave trips before transferring back to the USA in 1966.
After retiring from Chevron in 1975, Bob served 5 years as Senior Vice-President of Development with Seiscom-Delta Corporation before joining the faculty at the University of Houston as a fully tenured Professor of Geophysics. His main interests were seismic detailing of reservoirs, 3-D seismic interpretation and seismic stratigraphy. Bob expanded his teaching activity with many US and international geophysical 1-2 week short courses. These took Margaret & Bob all over the world from the 1980's through the 2000's. In 1988 Bob took a sabbatical from UH and spent a semester teaching at Charles University in Prague. He spent another semester teaching at Curtin University in Western Australia in 1993. In 2003, Bob retired as Professor Emeritus from the University of Houston with over 23 years teaching geophysics. Bob maintained an office at the University for many years afterwards as he continued to stay involved with the geoscience department and attend Friday seminars each week.
Bob & Margaret took an interest in the bright young minds they met overseas and endowed several SEG Scholarships for international students wishing to continue their studies in geophysics at the University in Houston. Bob & Margaret believed strongly in the value of education and established the endowed Faculty Chair in Applied Seismology, an endowment in Applied Geophysics, an endowed Professorship in Sequence Stratigraphy and an endowed Professorship in Geophysics at the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics of the University of Houston. Bob thoroughly enjoyed teaching and had faith in education as the driver in human progress. One of Bob's greatest strengths was his ability to explain complex subjects clearly and directly.
Bob is widely known and respected in the geophysical community for his numerous publications. Bob has authored and co-authored over 6 geophysical textbooks, many still in print today. Bob was an active member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG), the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAEG), and the Geophysical Society of Houston (GSH). He served as First Vice President for SEG from 1972-73 and also served on numerous SEG Committees through the years. Bob was active with GSH and continued attending lectures, short courses and special interest meetings long after he retired. In 1969, Bob received the prestigious SEG Virgil Kauffman Medal for his initial publication of the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Exploration Geophysics. Along with dozens of other industry and educational awards over the years, Bob was again honored in 1998 with SEG's highest award, the Maurice Ewing Award, for his lifetime achievements in geophysics. In 2006, SEG members voted Bob's 1973 dictionary as the top geophysical book ever published for the industry, citing a copy could be found in every working exploration office.
Growing up with National Geographic magazines in the house, Bob developed a passion for adventure and travel. With a corresponding passion, Margaret proved to be the perfect companion. In their extensive travels together they visited all 7 continents and nearly 100 different countries in all parts of the world. In 1996, they fulfilled a life long goal to visit the 7th continent. From Australia, they took a small cruise ship to Antarctica and enjoyed walking with penguins, sailing past the Ross Ice Sheet and touring huts left by early Antarctica explorers. Bob's delight in travel never diminished and he and Margaret were still taking overseas trips well into their 80's.
Bob equally had passion for music and art. He was a life-long opera enthusiast. As a teenager, when the New York Opera visited Cleveland, Ohio, Bob and a friend would hitchhike to the city to attend the shows. Bob had a prodigious self-education in history, great books, geography, music and the arts. Bob attended dozens of concerts, programs and exhibits each year at the Houston Symphony, Moore's School of Music at the University of Houston, Theater Under the Stars, and especially shows at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
Bob was active with Church Youth Groups and local School Board politics during his child rearing years. He was a long time member of Pines Presbyterian Church in Houston. Along with his enjoyment of reading and writing, Bob loved long walks and working in his yard.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents; son, Richard K. Sheriff; and son-in-law, Anthony J. Makowski III. Left to honor and cherish Bob's memory are Margaret, his wife of 69 years; sister, M. Ruth (Sheriff) Fellmeth of Canal Fulton, Ohio; daughter, Anne Makowski of Highlands Ranch, Colorado; daughter-in-law, Susan Sheriff of Rowlett, Texas; daughters, Jeanne Sheriff of Fort Collins, Colorado, Susan Hunter and her husband Jim of Missouri City, Texas, Barbara Barnes and her husband Bill of Junction, Texas, and Linda Barasch and her husband Spencer of Arlington, Texas; his grandchildren, Gen Bennett and her husband Casey, Kathy Makowski, Tony Makowski IV, Rachel Patterson, Taylor Sheriff, Bill Wallberg and his wife Lauren, Laura Hunter, Jessica Hunter, Stephen Hunter, Alix Barasch, Lance Barasch, and Katie Barasch; and great-grandchildren, John, Joey and Lorelai Bennett, and Ada and Violet Wallberg.
A Memorial Service for Dr. Sheriff will be held at 2:00 PM, December 13, 2014, at The Settegast-Kopf Co. @ Sugar Creek, 15015 Southwest Freeway, Sugar Land, TX, 77478. A reception will follow immediately afterwards.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Robert & Margaret Sheriff Endowment in Applied Geophysics online at https://giving.uh.edu/nsm, or by mail to University of Houston, 214 Science and Research II, Houston, Texas, 77204-5008. Contact Janis Parsley at 713-743-8375 or [email protected] for more information.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Nov. 23, 2014
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