Edward D. Dolly, this year’s Michel T. Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award winner, isn’t comfortable talking about himself.
“I try not to, but I know I have to, to some extent.”
He wasn’t even 100-percent sold on the idea of doing this interview.
When you win such an award, though, people want to hear from you, want to hear how it all came about, so he immediately puts his achievement, his success – this award – in perspective.
“I know each of the previous Halbouty Award winners personally (there have been 11), and to be included among that group of unique and dedicated leaders is further testament to the value I attach to this award,” said Dolly.
And to the award’s namesake.
“I had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Halbouty speak several times at various AAPG functions. He was a dynamic, powerful, eloquent and fiery speaker who commanded the undivided attention of his audience while delivering his message, and he was an impressive leader,” he recalled.
“When he spoke, people listened.”
The Benefits of Teamwork
Dolly understands the interconnectedness in his success and why he’s being honored.
“I have always talked about myself as an ‘I’ in ‘We’ – the ‘I’ came out now and then.”
Born in Davenport, Iowa in 1940, Dolly grew up in central Illinois. By the time he was in the eighth grade, he was already helping his dad in oil fields in the southern part of the state.
By junior high school, Dolly said, he was hooked and knew he wanted to be a geologist.
He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a master’s and then a doctorate from the University of Oklahoma.
Early in his career, Dolly earned the reputation of being a first-rate oil and gas finder.
He liked being on the hunt. He liked the adventure of chasing the unknown.
“I never wanted to be a manager,” he said from his home in Colorado where he, now retired, lives with his wife, Karmen.
“I preferred to practice the profession I spent so many years studying, to be a geologist and work the data. I was in my element working with teams, developing ideas and concepts that led to drilling prospects,” said Dolly.
He understands how that’s not always possible.
“Working alone was also necessary at times, but in most companies, teamwork made things progress faster, and a team could be working on several projects at the same time with each member contributing specific talents and unique ideas.”
Dolly, a past Levorsen Award winner, has no regrets, but he laughs when he thinks about what might have been. He has helped organize AAPG’s 100-year anniversary celebration and talks about what he learned putting together the GeoLegends series, a video collection of interviews he did (along with Paul Weimer) of 50 legends in the profession.
“Throughout the 10 years I’ve worked on this project, I’ve had fun learning a new trade – film production,” he said.
“My interview style,” Dolly said, “was to prepare before each interview with an outline of questions, for both the subject and myself, so that during the videotaping, the subject could tell his story without interruption. I would only ask questions to expand on a specific point or to keep the flow going, and then only if necessary.”
“Working with cinematographers Pax Harris and Sam Carrothers of Medium Films has been a pleasure. They taught me the basics of digitizing maps, well logs, cross sections and photos, as well as how to edit the interviews,” he added.
Dolly considers his part in the production of the GeoLegend interviews to be his contribution to AAPG to honor those interviewed and to provide valuable information for AAPG Members.
Impact on AAPG
Dolly has a confidence that asserts itself freely and openly, but without approaching cockiness. His business DNA is important to him, and he easily reels off his partnerships, especially with Norm Foster and Paul Weimer, and his friendship with this year’s Sidney Powers’winner Larry Meckel (see related story on page 12).
There’s a lot of “I” in “we.”
About that 100th year celebration, he said, “I took on this task because I felt it would be a way to give back in a lasting and significant manner to an organization that has supported geoscientists for 100 years. Charles Sternbach initially chaired the (100th Anniversary) Committee; I later served as the chair, followed by Paul. In the final months prior to the anniversary, the three of us are jointly co-chairing the Committee.”
For all his successes, he left his mark on AAPG, especially the Rocky Mountain Section, where he served as both president and AAPG Advisory Council representative. For decades, he has espoused the benefits of participation in professional societies – he believes it’s a life force for any industry. He has served as both president and counselor of the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists and served on nine RMAG committees, two of which he chaired. For AAPG, he’s been chairman of the House of Delegates and participated on 18 committees, six of which he chaired or co-chaired.
AAPG’s Impact on Dolly
In the profession, in the field, he was an explorer. He took risks. Most paid off.
“After four years spent learning the business with Shell Oil in Denver and taking a number of training courses through Shell’s lab in Houston, I left Shell to join the first of what became a series of independent oil and gas companies,” he said. “The participants in each of those companies in one manner or another built up oil and gas reserves which were then sold to larger companies for a significant payday.”
Are there regrets?
“I now joke,” he said, “that after interviewing all these GeoLegends and hearing the stories of the thought processes and exploration techniques they used, those who found billions of barrels of oil, I should have worked on such a project before starting my career. With that added knowledge, I might have done even better in my exploration efforts.”
He’s now an elder statesman of sorts.
Dolly is an optimist, but there are dynamics on the horizon in the profession and within the AAPG Membership that trouble him.
“Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, the digital world, but we’re losing people. The young people are not renewing their memberships,” he lamented.
He thinks it’s a mistake, he said, because he knows what those relationships and educational opportunities afforded by membership in associations have meant to him.
He gives advice, if asked. He’s asked.
“Never stop learning.”
And then to those just now entering the profession, he advises specific steps to take.
“Attend every talk, short course, field trip, symposium and convention possible – continuing throughout your career. Join professional societies, study groups, and above all, participate in them, both locally and nationally. Network continually, be a people person, keep abreast of new scientific ideas and the latest techniques,” he said.
In conclusion, in retirement, he and his wife, Karmen, are generations-deep into a shared passion - genealogy.
“Our single most significant discovery is the fact that we have an ancestor in common eight generations back!”
It should. It’s the “I” in “We.”