Weimer, Robert J.
4 September 1926 - 25 August 2021
Robert J. Weimer died of natural causes on 25 August 2021 at Frasier Meadows Retirement Community in Boulder, Colorado. He was 94 years old.
An internationally known geologist, Bob distinguished himself in a seven-decade career as an outstanding teacher, influential researcher, and innovative explorationist.
Bob was born in Glendo, Wyoming, on 4 September 1926. In 1944, at age eighteen, he joined the US Navy's officer training program, where he studied engineering at USC until the end of the War. After being discharged in 1946, Bob enrolled at the University of Wyoming, where he received his BA (1948) and MA (1949) degrees in geology. While in college, Bob met his life partner, Ruth Adams, a journalism student and campus leader who became the secret ingredient in Bob's success. Bob and Ruth married in September 1948 and remained married until her death in May 2017.
From 1949 to 1951, Bob worked with Union Oil in several locations in the Four Corners area. He took a leave of absence to attend Stanford University, completing his PhD in the 2½ years covered by the amount of funding remaining from his G.I. Bill. He returned to work with Union Oil for 1½ years in Wyoming and Montana, and then began working as a consulting geologist in late 1954.
As an explorationist, Bob broke new ground at age 32 with his innovative discovery of the Patrick Draw Field in southwest Wyoming in 1959. This discovery launched a decade of petroleum exploration in the Rockies and nationwide, where companies searched for similar kinds of previously unrecognized or ignored stratigraphic traps. Later, in 1973, Bob applied the same concepts to help discover the Spearhead Ranch Field in the southwestern portion of the Powder River Basin in northern Wyoming.
While Bob was identifying new techniques to locate petroleum fields, he also pursued his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. In 1957, he was hired as a professor at the Colorado School of Mines. In this role, Bob became well-known in the Rocky Mountain geologic community:
• As an academic, Bob chose to research areas that were not only economically productive, but also physically close to CSM and Denver. This made it easy for local geologists to visit the outcrops that Bob studied, and apply Bob's concepts to their companies.
• At the same time, Bob published several papers that quickly became standard references and the starting point for understanding the regional framework of the Upper Cretaceous strata. Local companies applied this framework extensively, thus leading to major productive petroleum discoveries.
• As a teacher, Bob used his experience in industry to bring an applied perspective to classes. His students learned not just geologic theory, but also pragmatic operational concerns. For this reason, many of Bob's students credit his tutoring for their successful careers.
• Bob was influential not only for the quality of his teaching, but also for the number of students he taught. In his 60-year tenure at CSM, Bob personally taught more than one thousand students; many of them took Bob's "Principles of Stratigraphy" class that was required for all geology, geophysics, and petroleum engineering majors. A significant number of those students found employment in the Rocky Mountain geo-community, thus allowing them to build lifelong ties with Bob.
Furthermore, during the summers of 1971 through 1988, Bob also taught continuing education courses for industry groups. A significant portion of the Denver geo-community cycled through these courses, further strengthening Bob's influence in local industry.
Bob served as CSM Geology Department Chair from 1964 to 1969, and held the inaugural Getty Chair from 1978 until his retirement in 1983. For the next 30 years, Bob remained active both as an emeritus professor at CSM, and as a geo-consultant in the Denver area. Among other duties, he meticulously described the rocks along the west side of the CSM campus; this work later evolved into an educational "walking geology" trail.
In addition to local pursuits, Bob also traveled and taught extensively around the world. For example, he taught as part of a Fulbright Program at the University of Adelaide in 1967, then returned to Australia several times to teach short courses. He also taught at the University of Calgary (1970), and at the Institute of Technology of Bandung in Indonesia in 1975. These trips were life-changing experiences for both Bob and his family, and led to many lasting friendships in numerous countries.
Bob's strong feelings for professionalism led to extensive work for many geologic and engineering professional associations. He did extensive service for the local Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists, and was recognized with Honorary Membership (1969), Scientist of the Year (1982) and Legend (2003). In addition, he served as President for two international geologic groups-SEPM (Society of Sedimentary Geology) and AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists)- and served as a Distinguished Lecturer for both the AAPG and SEG (Society of Exploration Geophysicists). Bob was also honored to receive many awards during his distinguished career, including:
• AAPG Sydney Powers Medal (1984)
• Election to the National Academy of Engineering (1992)
• Distinguished Alumni from the University of Wyoming (1994)
• SEPM Twenhofel Award (1995)
• From CSM: Mines Medal (1982), Brown Medal (1990), Honorary Degree (2008)
• American Geoscience Institute- Legendary Geoscientist (2006)
• Honorary memberships with several groups
While Bob was building his career, he and Ruth raised their family on Lookout Mountain near Golden, Colorado. In his 55 years there, Bob served many volunteer roles, including President of his community and Chair of the local water committee. With his geologic expertise, he found the best locations to drill water wells in Mount Vernon Country Club. To this day, that water still fills the taps for Mount Vernon's 100 households, swimming pool, and restaurant in the community. He also served as President of the Northwoodside Conservancy Foundation, and a board member at the Foothills Art Center. As part of a family of homesteaders, he cherished the landscapes of the Rockies, and spent substantial time with family and friends in the outdoors hunting, fishing, backpacking camping, skiing, rafting, and coaching baseball.
Bob is survived by one sister- Joyce; three sons- Tom, Paul (Laurie), Carl (Kathy); four grandchildren- Dan (Natalya), Lou (Sydney), Rudy (Lisette), Kate (Zach); and two great-grandchildren (Roslyn, Lenna). He was preceded in death by his wife Ruth and son Loren.
To summarize a life well-lived: Bob represented the very best of his profession. He understood that in exploration geology, the line between success and failure is infinitesimally thin, and he maintained the humility that is borne from that understanding. His professional service was driven by his deep gratitude for the opportunities that came his way.
Bob was more than an outstanding geologist: he was also a valued friend and colleague to many. He mentored hundreds of geologists in an informal, yet effective and lasting way. He was extremely generous in sharing his time, resources, and enthusiasm with members of his profession and his community. He relished guiding young people to discover the wonders of the geologic world, and helping every person he encountered to feel truly special. Sometimes, in odd moments, one could hear Bob quietly crooning his favorite Louis Armstrong song, "I'm Just a Lucky So-And-So." He will be sorely missed.
Published by Denver Post on Sep. 12, 2021.