Saying Goodbye to a Champion of AAPG

In the middle of December we received sad news at headquarters: AAPG Honorary Member and leader R. Randy Ray had passed away after a quiet 15-month battle with cancer. He was 66 years old.

The news came as a shock as Randy, a private person, did not wish to publicize his illness. But as his wife Kathy wrote in a note to Alan Wegener, AAPG’s managing director for global business, it was his AAPG friendships and committee service that kept him going during the clinical trials and treatments that he undertook.

Feelings of loss are not uncommon when we lose a friend or colleague, and that has proven particularly true in this case. As Alan observed to me, Randy was a champion of both AAPG and its staff.

He was a tireless volunteer, working from his base in Lakewood, Colo., contributing both to his local societies – the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists and the Denver Geophysical Society – and international societies, like AAPG and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG).

His Impact on AAPG

Vision energized by optimism and enthusiasm fueled his activities. As both a geologist and geophysicist, Randy sought to build bridges between the disciplines.

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In the middle of December we received sad news at headquarters: AAPG Honorary Member and leader R. Randy Ray had passed away after a quiet 15-month battle with cancer. He was 66 years old.

The news came as a shock as Randy, a private person, did not wish to publicize his illness. But as his wife Kathy wrote in a note to Alan Wegener, AAPG’s managing director for global business, it was his AAPG friendships and committee service that kept him going during the clinical trials and treatments that he undertook.

Feelings of loss are not uncommon when we lose a friend or colleague, and that has proven particularly true in this case. As Alan observed to me, Randy was a champion of both AAPG and its staff.

He was a tireless volunteer, working from his base in Lakewood, Colo., contributing both to his local societies – the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists and the Denver Geophysical Society – and international societies, like AAPG and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG).

His Impact on AAPG

Vision energized by optimism and enthusiasm fueled his activities. As both a geologist and geophysicist, Randy sought to build bridges between the disciplines.

He was a longstanding member of both the AAPG Geophysical Integration Committee and the AAPG-SEG Cooperation Committee. He was one of the originators of the Denver Geophysical Society’s 3-D Seismic Symposium, which is planning its 24th installment in March of this year.

For six years Randy served as chair of the AAPG Global Events Oversight Committee, continuing as a committee member until the day he died. He loved conferences.

In 2009 he was the general chair of AAPG’s Annual Convention and Exhibition in Denver. When AAPG joined with SEG and the Society of Petroleum Engineers to launch the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference in 2013, Randy served as an enthusiastic member of the technical program committee. The following year he served as SEG co-chair for URTeC.

As AAPG President Charles Sternbach eulogized, “Randy is organizing a conference in heaven, it will be multidisciplinary, and the house there will be packed, too!”

When SEG approached AAPG in 2012 about launching a new interdisciplinary journal – Interpretation – focused on subsurface exploration, Randy stepped forward to serve as AAPG’s appointed deputy editor-in-chief. He was committed to the topic, to cooperation between AAPG and SEG and to the journal’s success.

A Possibility for Joy

I got to know Randy best during his term as chair of the House of Delegates serving on the Executive Committee in 2013. This is a leadership position that requires an ability to balance many diverse interests and opinions. A good listener, Randy solicited and absorbed perspectives from many individuals and processed that input through a primary filter: what is best for AAPG and its members?

He actively used his AAPG experience to broaden his own knowledge and perspectives. Attending the AAPG International Conference and Exhibition in Singapore was his first trip outside the United States. He followed it with several visits to APPEX, AAPG’s prospect and property expo in London, accompanied by his younger son.

And while his friends feel a sense of loss, it is his family – his wife Kathy and his sons Austin and Brandon – who were closest to him and bear the heavy burden of sadness and grief during these moments.

But even in mourning there is a possibility for joy.

“Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our natural lives,” observed author C.S. Lewis in “The Four Loves.”

Anyone who witnessed Randy and Kathy together has evidence of this fact.

It was affection that also drew Randy to AAPG, SEG, RMAG and DGS – he liked people and they genuinely liked him. These relationships were a great source of both professional and personal satisfaction. In my reflections about Randy over the past several weeks, what strikes me was how intentional he was about his relationships.

Here at AAPG we talk a lot about networking, community and
relationships. But how often do we
take the time to make that phone call, send a hand-written note or simply listen attentively while someone else is talking? Randy did all these things.

A personal example: When Randy chaired the HoD, he held his midyear leadership meeting in Boulder, Colo., showcasing the hospitality and charm of that college town.

One year later, as a newly-married man, my wife Susan and I checked into the same hotel for a few days. In our room we found a beautiful, small chocolate cake with a hand-written note, “Congratulations and best wishes on your marriage. Sincerely, Randy and Kathy Ray.”

It’s not the size of the gesture that counts. It’s the intent. And I’ll never forget it.

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